Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ahhhhh, Wipeout Slider! (Cue the Surf Music!)

The slider has become the most multi-faceted pitch in recent years. There's the back-door slider, sneaking into the far end of the strike zone like the neighborhood tomcat stealing into the house to visit a cuckolding missus.

Earlier this season, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer spoke of Justin Masterson's "lefty slider," as the righty hurler calls his devastating pitch.

Wrote the PD over the summer:

Masterson also mixes in a four-seam fastball and changeup -- and, for good measure, a pitch he calls "the lefty slider." It is a pitch Red Sox slugger David Ortiz thought he could hit until the ball ran so far down and away that he ended up coming nowhere close.

And don't even get us started on the "slurve." (Speaking of the slurve, is there a less euphonious mash-up known to man, barring, perhaps "jeggings"?)

Anyway, we digress. The slider has lots of offshoots. And add to it the "wipeout slider," as baseball wiz Kevin Towers describes Padres late bloomer Luke Gregerson. Actually, the term comes from former Padres outfielder John Vander Wal:

“[Vander Wal] said he had a wipeout slider for righties and lefties and was ready now,” Towers told the NY Times. “When I hear that from a guy who made his living as a pinch-hitter against the top relievers in baseball, that’s music to my ears. I’m going to take a chance on that guy.”

UPDATE: The NY Times had it again in Tuesday's paper, talking about CC Sabathia. Obviously scribe Tyler Kepner liked the phrase so much after hearing it from Towers that he used it again.

Twice [Sabathia] humbled the major league home run leader, Jose Bautista, with his signature wipeout slider.

Ihave no idea what a "wipeout slider" is--if it cuts, darts, dives or tumbles. I can only assume a wipeout slider is a very good one.

Keep in mind everyone involved in the above excerpt has San Diego roots, so I'll assume it's some surfer thing.

Yet Google shows that the term pops up a handful of times around the country, dating back at least a few years. Over three years ago, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story on Pirates draftee Daniel Moskos reported:

He has a "wipeout" slider, according to one evaluator, that he throws at 85-87 mph.

And Baseball America described ballyhooed Cardinal farmhand Mitch Boggs thusly:

He has ditched his curveball and developed a wipeout slider that ranks as one of the best in the system

Sounds like scout-speak--or a true inside-baseball--term to me.

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