Tagged: LOOGY

You Don’t Know What You Got ‘Til It’s Gone: A HDIB? Reflection

There is so much truth to the title of this post, and while I will never be able to bring to you the full expression of this saying, I know that there are youtube videos of Pat Benatar, Debbie Gibson some old hippie chick, and a dreadlocked dude that seems to be really popular with that ladies that make every effort to do so. I won’t sully this post with embedding those attempts, but hey, if it’s your thing, Google away.

Sometimes, you have to let go, and say goodbye. Well, maybe not goodbye, perhaps more of wish those no longer with us a peaceful journey. Two of my subjects here at How Do I Baseball? have passed on to the other side, and I am not only grasping at fully comprehending the gravity of the situation, I find myself not truly acknowledging that this might be it.

We all mourn in our own ways. This, as embarrassingly pathetic, and dramatic as it is, is mine.

May you never be forgotten, Scott, and Doug – you will be forever our LOOGY Liasons.

Rad and Slaten, together forever in our minds, hearts, and my spare bedroom

Scott Radinsky: A Love Story

I feel that it is time to make myself vulnerable, and bare my baseball soul to all four of you kind, gentle, possibly lactose intolerant readers.

I come with a tale not only of adoration, but of respect, and emulation of a man who I have made one of my interwebs aliases, and whose visage you see anytime you wander through the ‘How Do I Baseball?’ parcel of URL land. That man will be unmasked in the following text, and I feel that this exposé is a long time coming for the current Cleveland Indians pitching coach, to not only celebrate his baseball career, and his accomplishments, but also to show him as the Renaissance Man that he truly is. Plus, everyone knows him as this guy’s brother in law so let’s try and get him into the limelight for once, yes?

Scott Radinsky, this is your life, my homage to you, and the final unveiling of my unrequited man crush.

Did you ever know that you’re my heeerooo

As previously mentioned, he is the pitching coach for the Indians, having started his coaching career with them soon after his playing career careened to a halt with Cleveland after 2 innings of work in 2001, after a MLB tour of duty spanning 11 years, primarily with the Chicago White Sox, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. During this time, he put up some very respectable numbers, especially with my occasionally beloved Dodgers. Being the all-purpose lefty out of the bullpen when I pitched, I went out of my way to mimic his style, down to his delivery, and how he wore his cap. He was what I wanted to be – the funky lefty coming out of the Dodgers bullpen, socks high, coming only out of the stretch (because windups are fo’ suckas), and whipping a fastball/slider combo to those who dare dig in the batter’s box on my watch. You can peruse the juicy bits of his career here, but briefly, a career 118 ERA+, with career years (as determined by WAR) in 1991, and 1998, and a 63% winning percentage to go with 52 saves made for quite a career showing for the lefty from the San Fernando Valley. Also a recipient of the Tony Conigliaro Award in 1995, Rad left the game as one of the more decorated Jewish pitchers the game has had, placing 2nd in career appearances, fourth in ERA, and 11th in career wins. LOOGY, setup man, closer – regardless of the title, Radinsky did the job asked of him, but did make his name as an 8th inning man, pitching about 40% of his innings in that game frame. Yet, he definitely rose to the occasion when in the closers role, saving 90% of games he came into the game with a save opportunity, holding hitters to a .102 BAA in the games he saved.

The Ballad of Rad goes beyond that for me. A cancer survivor, he spent the entire 1994 season undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. During this time away from the playing, he never left the game, spending his time away chemotherapy sessions as an assistant coach for his alma mater, Simi Valley High School. The holder of numerous pitching records for the Pioneers, Rad put the SVHS program on the map, being the first MLB’er to come out of the school, while also being a key component of the early development of Jeff Weaver into a sometimes MLB capable pitcher. On a personal level, he mentored two former college teammates of mine on that 1994 Simi Valley team, who both came away with nothing but positive things to say about Scott as both a player and a person, adding that it was his tutelage that allowed them make the final jump from good player to great, Division I ready players.

With his high school baseball career came another type of career, that of frontman for a number of punk groups over the span of a couple of decades. Getting his feet wet in the 1980’s Nardcore scene with Scared Straight, he then went on to front punk mainstays Ten Foot Pole, and Pulley.

‘I celebrate the man’s entire catalog’

It doesn’t stop there. Proprietor of one of the larger, and most well known skate parks in the country, Scott plunked down a significant amount of money to open Skatelab, and to see the creation of the Skateboard Hall of Fame, and Skateboard Museum within its walls.

It’s been quite a life thus far for Rad – baseball, skate parks, surviving cancer, and lead singer of three punk bands – it is one that I have personally striven to equal, or come close to it, in my own way. To be selfless, and at the same time indefatigable in your pursuits, and to conquer his personal battles, be it cancer, or Ubaldo Jimenez, shows the heart of a man who gets what life is about – fulfillment, and happiness through any storm weathered.

So the next time you see him saunter up to the mound during an Indians game to check on Chris Perez, and his propensity for projectile vomiting, give a round of applause to a man who is living the dream that we all never want to wake up from, closer vomit notwithstanding.

DavidWikipedia: David according to the Hebrew Bible, was the second king of the United Kingdom of Israel and, according to the New Testament Gospels of Matthew and Luke an ancestor of Jesus.

In Memoriam…? Doug Slaten

As my ‘About’ attests, I am a fan of the lefty reliever specialists, LOOGYs, if you will. As some of you may also know, I have been a hardcore Doug Slaten follower, as he has journeyed through the back roads of the backends of various bullpens. I have my reasons, as I will touch upon shortly, but for the moment, I would like to salute Doug for some great fond memories. I would also like to thank him for his game worn Nationals away jersey, and his locker plate:

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Slaten, a recent DFA victim by the Pirates, has done what many a lefty has done in the game, and that is come in, get the occasional lefty out, and in general, grease the wheels for a win; he has done so in yeoman-like fashion. No frills, just get outs. His stay with the AAA Indianapolis Indians this year was awe-inspiring numbers-wise, giving up a solitary run all season, but also damning of his place as a AAAA player, as we can gather from his MLB numbers. Yet, to carve out a 7 year career as a lefty with middlin’ at best stuff is impressive, and it is with this post I applaud Doug for his work, dedication, and persistence in getting this far as a professional pitcher.

A 17th round draft pick back in 2000, Slaten bounced around a number of California junior colleges – Glendale CC, LA Pierce JC, and El Camino CC – until bouncing some more, this time around the minors, culminating in a Southern League All Star nod in 2006. Overall, Doug flew under the radar, and for all intents and purposes, was destined for bullpen work. While never a prospect, it must be noted that a 7 year career out of a 17th rounder is more than anyone can ask for. Ponder this – in 2000, 7 LHPs were drafted in the 1st round, with the top 3 picks (#4, 9, and 10) never making it to the bigs. Of the other 4, Sean Burnett has had the most decorated career – as a lefty short reliever.

Hindered by injuries, his pitching repertoire, and the ceiling of his talent, Slaten’s career has nevertheless fascinated me, and I unabashedly follow his trajectory. I see what could’ve been for my own baseball career, as a lefty reliever with iffy stuff, that just got hitters out while bouncing around the California junior college and NCAA ranks in his day. I never made it – injuries, and a simple ‘no’ to an offer for a tryout made an abrupt, but euthanasic end to that life chapter – but you always tend to find yourself in others that did. While Doug and I are more enantiomeric than mirror images, there is that arrogant, narcissistic notion that creeps into my thoughts on occasion that makes me feel like I somehow blazed a trail for him, being a few years older, and having shared some cursory baseball career parallels. Of course this is total BS, but fandom and rational thought are things that will never be twinned or made to agree.

I leave you to peruse the baseball URL of your picking to further investigate Slaten, and his career, whose nadir didn’t make it much past sea level in terms of altitude. I hope you look into the numbers, and look at them not so much in sympathy, but more as a Rosetta Stone of dedication, hard work, and unbridled passion of a game that is littered with instances of fractions. Only a fraction make it to the bigs, and fractions of seconds determine the difference between weak grounders, and home runs, as well as nasty sliders, and unintentional BP fastballs.

The fractions summed up to a whole number for Doug, and I hope he can tack on another one.

Year 8.