Dontrelle Willis retired on Monday at the age of 30, bringing to an end one of the most baffling baseball careers of the past decade. The day before, Mark Prior, nursing an oblique strain, threw a bullpen session for the Pawtucket Red Sox. He hadn't pitched in a game since June 21, when he scuffled through an inning of relief work, walking three and giving up a run. I tend to think about Prior and Willis as a pair, despite their many differences—or more exactly, because of their many differences. They're the opposing poles in the game's spiritual landscape—robotic perfection vs. grinning exuberance—and for an amazing stretch in 2003, the two of them offered competing visions of how success could be attained. They made baseball feel ...bigger.
Kinja is in read-only mode. We are working to restore service.