A Good Pitcher by Matthew Robins

He was a good pitcher. A good reliever. He had all the pitches. Good slider. Good fastball. Good changeup. And an ERA of 2.15 and he knew all his catcher’s signs.

It was bottom of the 9th and 1 out. Bases were loaded and the game was tied.

The home team’s center fielder knocked a dribbler back at the mound. The pitcher charged the ball and threw it to first. The ball reached the bag before the runner, but the player on third base snuck to the plate behind the pitcher. He scored. The game was over. The pitcher’s team lost.

After the game, the manager told the pitcher the team would be letting him go. The pitcher didn’t understand.

The pitcher claimed, “I’m a good pitcher. A really good pitcher. There’s no reason to let me go.”

He said he had all the pitches. He told the manager he had a good slider. A good fastball. A good changeup. And an ERA of 2.15 and he knew all his catcher’s signs.

The manager said, “You’re a good pitcher, but you’re not a good player, so we gotta let you go.”

The pitcher still couldn’t understand.

So the coach asked, “When you’re in the bottom of the 9th and there’s 1 out – when the bases are loaded and the game’s tied, what do you do?”

“I watch my catcher’s signs. I throw what we agree to throw. If he calls for a fastball, I throw a good fastball. If he calls for a slider, I throw a good slider. I focus. I concentrate on making the right pitch. And I usually do.”

“Then?” the coach asked.

The pitcher paused.

“If I get the ball, I go for the out.”

“That’s it?” the manager asked.

“That’s it,” he said. “That’s my job.”

“There’s nothing more?”

“There’s more?” the good pitcher asked.

“What do you do with a popup?”: the manager asked.

“I catch it. I catch it and get the out.”

“Of course.” the manager said. “But what else?”

“I’m not sure,” the pitcher said. “I’m not sure what you’re getting at.”

“The right answer is, ‘It depends’,” the manager said.

“Depends on what?”

“What else is happening in the game,” the manager said.

“Oh,” the pitcher said

“You’re a good pitcher,” the manager said. “But, like I said, you’re not a good player, so I think we’ll be letting you go.”

At home, the pitcher told his wife, “I think they’re letting me go and I think it’s unfair.”

She asked why the team was letting him go.

He said he couldn’t figure it out. He said he was a good pitcher with a low ERA and plenty of good pitches and he knew all his catcher’s signs.

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