I find Steve Simmons difficult to read, watch or hear on the radio. His media persona is exactly what you’d expect from a Toronto Sun writer, regardless of sub-speciality. His speciality is sports per se but more specifically, Simmons’ speciality is hyperbolic hot takes on sports.
Simmons’ latest hot take is that Marcus Stroman is a jerk and anonymous sources within the Blue Jays agree with him.
While most Jays fans adamantly disagree with Simmons’ take on Stroman, I’m not so sure that we should completely dismiss what he’s saying. First, it’s important that we navigate the racial issues of playing the game the right way. Being fiery, vocal, and enthusiastic do not make Stroman a jerk. Baseball’s unwritten rules of decorum are out of date and often silly.
The reason that Stroman might be a jerk is the same reason that Carter Capps may also be a jerk. They bend the rules as far as possible to give them an advantage. What they’re doing isn’t illegal but it’s certainly not what we’ve come to expect.
Capps found a method within the (old) rules that greatly increased his effectiveness. It’s incredibly effective but also incredibly annoying to watch. Still, part of me gives Carter Capps credit for his innovation. A larger part views it as exploiting a rule that wasn’t specific enough.
Stroman, for his part, has done something similar over the past year and a bit. Both with quick pitches and delayed, windup hitches.
Both of these methods are also incredibly effective at throwing off a hitter’s timing but again, they’re both annoying as hell to watch. They are, dare I say, kind of jerk moves.
Wind-ups have always been an integral part of differentiating pitchers and to be honest, I’m shocked that it’s taken so long for pitchers to start augmenting them to the extremes of what’s allowed by the rule.
Johnny Cueto was arguably the first modern pitcher to add unnatural delays into his motions as you can see here:
These deliveries aren’t illegal as of yet and due to the effectiveness, they’re obviously spreading. If these mechanics are within the rules, they are within them just barely.
So, on one hand, you have to give all the credit in the world to Stroman for realising the importance of timing for a hitter and disrupting it. On the other hand, it really is kind of a jerk move.