Friday, April 1, 2011

Aces Wild in MLB Openers

As the aces of MLB make their debuts these days, there's a fun story in the NY Times worth checking out on the importance of the "ace" in baseball.

Ace has a lot of meanings. It's an unreturned serve in tennis. It's a founding member of KISS. It's a pet detective. It's a fighter pilot with nerves of steel. It's also the product of the union between statuesque softballer Jennie Finch and former Major League journeyman pitcher Casey Daigle.

Er, is 'nice ace' too sexist? If so, then disregard.

Writes the Times:
Daigle always wanted a son named Ace, he said, and it helped that he married a pitcher, Jennie Finch, the Olympic softball gold medalist. Finch has retired from her sport to raise a family. Daigle, whose career earned run average is 7.16, will start the season in the minor leagues for the San Francisco Giants, insurance for the rotation that won the World Series last fall.

Casey Daigle is most certainly not an ace. His four year old son Ace, however, is.

(And don't get us started on "Acer", which was the nickname given to the cocky hockey goalie with the David Foster Wallace hair we went to college with...what did the girls see in him?, and is the make of the computer monitor sitting 24 inches from my face.)

An ace, in baseball, is, of course, the go-to pitcher. In college, it's the Friday Night Guy, who sets the tone for the three game weekend series.

Here's a 2011 prediction from reliable NY Post baseball reporter Joel Sherman on Mets hurler Mike Pelfrey: "...takes a step back, his ERA climbing toward 4.50 as the ace burden without Johan Santana around is too much for him." (Sherman is definitely the ace of the NYP baseball crew.)

Here's how Giants GM Brian Sabean defines an ace in the Times:

An ace, Giants General Manager Brian Sabean said, carries an aura with him before he pitches, and backs it up consistently.

“There’s a difference in your clubhouse,” Sabean said. “People are thinking, ‘This is win day.’ ”

(NY Times...definitely the ace of the New York newspaper crowd. Sorry, Sherman.)

A crew of baseball folk came up with a list of just 13 currently active Major League hurlers deserving of the title for NY Times baseball ace Tyler Kepner: Chris Carpenter, Zack Greinke, Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Cliff Lee, Jon Lester, Lincecum, Price, Roy Oswalt, C. C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander.

Sabathia of course took down Verlander up in the Bronx yesterday, out-acing the Tigers' top hurler despite not getting the win.

Here's one to chew on for the weekend: If it's the National League, and a team's ace is not on deck, but one behind the guy who's on deck in the lineup, what does that make him?

An ace in the hole, of course.

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