The incredibly stupid debate over whether it’s harder to hit a 100 mph fastball or hit a half-court shot has been on the internet for a while, because if there’s a stupid debate to be had, it’ll happen online at some point.
The answer is obvious. If you go to a basketball game, you’ll probably see a fan get pulled out of the stands to try a half-court shot, because it’s difficult, but doable enough to be a contest at a game that someone can win. You will never in your life see someone pulled out of the stands at a baseball game to hit a 100 mph fastball, because it’s absolutely not happening. You’re not touching that kind of heat.
The old, dumb question came back to the fore last week because of an online poll by House of Highlights in which 42 percent of respondents were either idiots or trolls. But it did lead to the question being asked of MLB All-Stars in Denver, and their reaction — to being asked about the difficulty of the thing that they’re the best in the world at doing — goes a long way to showing why this question need never be asked again.
The problem with this is that the context makes it come off a little bit “please like my sport,” and even though the answer here is obvious, the ballplayers do have some incentive to emphasize how difficult it is to do what they do. When you hear from the best of the best, you can appreciate that, yes, they’re at a different level, but not how high up that level is.
For that, there’s the latest news from Newport, R.I., and the Sunset League, where David Robertson recently showed up to toss a couple of innings as part of his preparation to pitch for Team USA in the Olympics and continued comeback from Tommy John surgery last year.
Robertson doesn’t throw 100 mph. That’s never been his game. Instead, his signature pitch is the curveball, and that’s what made an impression on the Sunset League.
“I had trouble catching his changeup and his curveball,” Alex Martinez, a college catcher who has been catching bullpen sessions for Robertson lately, and brought him to the summer league to get work against batters, told the Providence Journal. “His curveball — I’ve never seen it before. The spin rate on that was nuts.”
Trying to hit against Robertson? “It was just different than any type of slider or curveball I’ve ever faced,” said Alex Vescera, a 30-year-old who played college ball at Franklin & Marshall. “It fell off a cliff — it was so sharp. It falls off the table. It was up, up, up — then bang. Gone.”
In two innings against decent amateur competition, Robertson struck out five of the 10 batters he faced. He also allowed three hits, all by current teammates of Martinez at Rhode Island College.
Joey Coro, David Iannuccilli, and Jake Randall all have a story to tell for the rest of their lives about getting a hit off a World Series winner, All-Star, and Olympian. You? You do not have such a story. Stick with trying to sink that half-court shot, it might just pay off for you someday.