Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sanchez, With a Twist of Tiant

Aaron Sanchez was doing his thing against the Yankees the other night, hurling pitches on behalf of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yanks appeared somewhat befuddled by his delivery.
"Sanchez does that Tiant Turn," said announcer Michael Kay. "It's a little disconcerting."
He was, of course, referring to Luis Tiant, who would spin toward second base before dealing a pitch. The Cuban Tiant won 229 games, many of them for the Red Sox, in the '60s, '70s and even into the '80s, generating extra power with his distinctive twist.
A discussion on Baseball Prospectus regarding Tiant mentions the "Tiant Twist". Said Doug Thorburn:
I wish that I could say that I had seen every manipulation of the Tiant twist, but I have only seen a handful of clips. But I dig it.
Perhaps Johnny Cueto of Cincinnati is the best known practitioner of the Tiant Twist. Here's what the Red Legs Baseball blog said on Opening Day last year:
Johnny Cueto looked great, but still uses the Tiant-twist. He'd better be right that the twist isn't causing his injuries, because we can't afford another oblique strain.
Tiant Twist seems more popular a term than Tiant Turn, but I do see a cocktail out there in the webiverse called the Tiant Turn. It's made of Brugal Anejo, Sherry, Mezcal and Orange Bitters, and garnished with an orange twist. 
I shall now raise a glass of Tiant Turn, and perhaps one of Tiant's trademark El Tiante cigars, to that colorful old pitcher. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

BATTER CHATTER BOOK REVIEW: "Abused by the New York Yankees", by Paul Priore and Gary Toushek

I was approached by the co-author of Abused by the New York Yankees, Gary Toushek, a few months ago, the writer wondering if Batter Chatter might be interested in writing something about the book. In fact, I was interested. Authored by Paul Priore, former Yankees assistant clubhouse attendant, the book takes on one of the most imposing sports franchises in the world with some scorching allegations. Abused also takes on the most beloved player in franchise history, and tars him with a salacious sex scandal.
I didn’t know what to think.
And so I read.
Abused is not a good book.  First off, it’s self-published—not a surprise, given the subject matter, and not a bad thing; I’ve self published myself and tend to not discriminate against the DIY set. But it looks off-brand, more like a bound galley than a book, and reads as if it is in desperate need of an editor, in just about every paragraph. It reinforces the cynicism some readers have about self-published works.
A gay man, Priore has a giant bone to pick with the Yankees. He alleges that a prominent pitcher sodomized him with a baseball bat while several teammates cheered. He mentions walking into the clubhouse sauna and finding two of the Core Four—Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada—locked in a tangle of, shall we say, passion. (The phrase “erect paddywackers” actually sees the light of day in this passage.) He alleges a whole lot of things. Then he alleges more.
If he had spelled out a handful of incidents in which he was aggrieved, the book would’ve been much stronger. Instead, Priore blasts every darn player, manager and front office exec he ever came in contact with, which turns the book into a long-ass, scattershot screed. George Steinbrenner is “Ol’ Turkeyneck.” He suspects that two marginal players in the Nineties, both married men, share amorous affection for each other, and sees homosexual tendencies all over the game—from catchers flicking crotch-level signs to pitchers, to players joking about penis size in the shower. It becomes clear very early on in the book that he has an axe to grind with any and all aspects of the Yankee universe.
He constantly names names—players he says committed actual crimes in the clubhouse, and also others who simply acted like knucklehead ballplayers, with no idea that, two decades later, the assistant clubhouse attendant would out them for loutish behavior in a book.
In case you didn’t get your fill of dry writing across the first 500 pages, Abused concludes with a report from the man who administered a polygraph test to Priore. Included to establish Priore’s credibility, the report had the opposite effect on me—the author trying too hard to show us his far-fetched claims are legit.
Full disclosure, I root against the Yankees and, am sheepish to admit, take delight in their misfortunes. (Their best hitter is A-Rod! Hah!) But I derived no pleasure in Abused by the New York Yankees, and, in fact, found it grossly unfair.