It is with some frequency that we as baseball fans are made privy to a prospect’s hit tool via an all-too-familiar allusion, that annoyingly vague reference to the distinct sonic quality of said prospect’s bat against a recently pitched ball.
“The ball just sounds different coming off his bat,” we are told.
“When the ball comes off his bat, it just sounds different,” we hear.
“Different, is what the ball sounds like off his bat,” our ears pick up.
In an effort to better understand the qualitative nature of this allegedly singular sound, French financier Carson Cistulli recently dispatched ace informant Toots Delvecchio to Spring Training with one specific assignment: “Bring me back some nachos, and a Coke with ice.”
In the meantime, Toots filed this report.
FLORIDA, The State Of — Being an ace informant, I began my ace informanting by watching Phillies prospect Boomer Buchanan take a few hacks in BP. And let me tell you, Toots-style, that the rumors are true: The ball does sound different coming off that guy’s bat. How different? Put it this way: It sounded exactly like the time when Joey Bullets put a .38 into Tommy the Tongue. Or so I hear.
Next I traveled south, to Bradenton, to watch Pirates prospect Stroker Strokowski take a few cuts. And man, let me tell you like only Toots can tell you, it sounded exactly like that time when Odious Tony crammed Surprisingly Flexible Jimmy into a 3×3 floor safe and then slammed the steel door shut. Or so they tell me.
Next, down in Sarasota, I looked on as O’s Triple-A outfielder Bruiser McBane went deep on some leftie Tigers mope. I forget his name, but it don’t matter. What does matter is that the sound was exactly – and I mean exactly – like the sound Vinny the Snitch’s ’74 Cadillac made when it went ka-boooooooooom, courtesy of Frankie the Detonator. At least that’s what I heard on the Discovery Channel or whatever.
Up in Port St. Lucie then, I saw Mets prospect Brawny Braunstein go yard on this Sox cugine and wow! – yeah, lemme tell you, it was just like the time when Cheatin’ Vito’s wife, Not-At-All-Clueless Vicki, slapped the absolute bejeebers out of the guy right there in the elevator of his goomah’s building. I think her name was Blistery Sue, but I really don’t recall. What I do recall, oh man, is that slap echoing all the way up to the eighth floor – smmmaccckkk! – where I might or might not have watched Frankie the Detonator build the timer.
Farther north in Kissimmee, I saw Yankees prospect Bulky Delvecchio (no relation) take some Astros mook deep, and I mean deep, like Surprisingly Flexible Jimmy-in-a-safe-at-the-bottom-of-the-friggin’-Atlantic deep, or so I hear, and I’ll just say that the sound was absolutely identical to a thunderclap during a late-August storm in the Nevada desert when you’re burying Tommy the Tongue. I imagine.
John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.