Monday, March 21, 2011

Farewell, Neshek

Yesterday, the the Twins announced that Pat Neshek had been claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres. I was sort of shocked by the news, but I guess it shouldn’t be so surprising.

After coming back from Tommy John surgery last year his fastball was barely touching 85, and he was giving up home runs this year at a pace that would make Jose Lima cringe.

I prefer to remember mid-2006, when he first debuted in the big leagues. My dad, brother, and I went to a game in July (I’m all but certain it was this one). The Elmer’s glue and Scotch tape holding Brad Radke’s arm together must have been a little loose, because he was about as hitable as he could have been. We thought about leaving midway through the fourth, but then the Twins got a couple in the bottom of that inning. In the top of the 7th, Neshek came out. I knew what to expect from the couple of times I’d seen him (I believe the game in question was his 7th major league game), but it was all-new territory for my brother and dad. We marveled at the motion, how the ball seemed like it was coming from no place in particular. Pretty soon, we were marveling at how lethal he was – he struck out three in just under two innings, with none of those three batters looking like they had the slightest clue what they were up against. I had a new favorite Twin.

I soon found his blog, and have been a loyal follower in the years that followed. I’ve been out of the baseball card scene for a little over 15 years now (I never really came back to it after the strike), but the one card from the last decade that I do own is one of Neshek’s minor league cards (autographed, of course) that I just had to have off eBay. It’ll probably be the last one I’ll ever need.

This move makes me a little sad. I’d really hoped Neshek could come back to his former glory. He still could – fingers crossed. Here’s hoping Petco does him right.

In honor of one of the more unique pitching motions in recent memory (and one of my favorite Twins ever), here’s some bullpen footage some random dude took three years ago.


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