The Dictionary.com Word of the Day for July 28 is deadpan. Deadpan, an adjective, is defined as “displaying no emotional or personal involvement.” That was my, and can be your, vocabulary lesson for the day. Now, on to baseball.
With all else equal, it is my humble opinion that a deadpan pitcher will always be better than a pitcher who displays emotion. To see what I mean, put yourself in the shoes of a hitter as he steps to the plate. There is one out, and the previous batter just laced a single to right field. You are feeling comfortable as you walk toward the plate, realizing that a hit from you could start a rally. This is a big moment in the game, and you are feeling good. Then you glance up at the pitcher.
(I’ll present two scenarios, and you decide which one will lead you to feeling even more confident than you already feel) Scenario 1: the pitcher snaps the ball back from the shortstop, cusses into his glove, trudges to the mound as if he were just dumped by his girlfriend, and steps onto the rubber. Scenario 2: the pitcher calmly catches the ball from the shortstop, walks confidently back to the mound, steps onto the rubber, and throws a deadpan stare your way as if he wanted to give up that single in order to force you into a ground ball, inning ending double play. Under which scenario would you expect to feel more confident and comfortable as a hitter? (Feel free to answer in the comments section)
To give a bit more color I will provide an anecdote that was relayed to me by the Mariners Minor League pitching coordinator–I’ll call him Stater, which may or may not be a real nickname. So, Stater had seen a video of Braves legend, Tom Glavine. The video was edited so that a viewer simultaneously watched two of Glavine’s games, side by side. The camera was fixed on Glavine, meaning the viewer had hardly an idea as to how the hitters were hitting the ball. Apparently, Glavine dominated in one of the games; he was crushed in the other. Nonetheless, Stater described that from watching Glavine alone, the viewer had no idea which game was Tom’s good one and which was his bad. The reason? Aside from a few unfriendly glances at an umpire, Glavine reacted very little in response to what happened on the field. Glavine is a deadpan pitcher.
You may disagree, but it’s my opinion that if Tom Glavine does something on a mound, then it is probably a good idea. Let’s all be deadpan pitchers.