Not anytime soon, that I’m aware of.
Some of my friends refuse to watch the show because “it can never happen”. I like the show. I like how it puts you in the place of a young 20 something woman who is a MLB rookie. Yes, you get the sensationalism of Michelle Wie and Tiger Woods – and you get to see the pressures they are under, first hand. You get the sense of what some of the issues might be in the locker room. The gender bias, etc.
But what about this “woman can never be a major league pitcher” thing. Anything to it?
I believe not. And let me lay out some cases for you.
- In the TV show, the woman is throwing I think in the high 80s. This in itself is not a disqualifier, as you have people who throw well into the 90s never make it to the majors. Location and control are a big factor, but so is movement. If your ball has a lot of movement, and you change speeds effectively, you can be effective.
- Screwball. Let me also tell you a quick story. I played legion baseball. I could hit pretty damn good, and finished my senior year at .389 on a bad team with no pitching. It was my coach’s first year, and he’d go on to have a lot of success over time. He brought in some coaches from the Hill School, one was a former SEAL and the other was a pitcher at a school named Bucknell. I wish I remembered his name. Anyway, I used to light up batting practice pitching. At our high school, I’d routinely put the ball over the right field fence, and across the street into the trees. Sometimes, I’d talk smack. Well, Bucknell had enough of my shit one day during BP and threw me a screwball. He was a right hand pitcher, I was a left handed batter, and the ball dove and tailed away from me. He threw me like 20 of these. I don’t think I even touched one. Shut my ass up really quickly. So – I could hit pitching in the 80s. I could hit for high average. I could hit for power. I couldn’t touch a screwball to save my life. It was probably in the low 70s. I could not imagine one in the 80s with more movement. Then, use a fastball and curveball as change ups to mask speed and location. It could be a nightmare.
- Jamie Moyer. Not sure many of you know who he is. Look him up. As a die hard Phillies fan, I got to watch this guy pitch into his late, late 40s. His fastball topped out at 82-83 mph. His change up was 67-72. He had a respectable ERA for years, and I think he could have kept going. How did he do it? Movement, location, change of pace. This is about the most clear picture I can think of how someone who doesn’t throw hard could be a major leaguer.
- Knuckleballers. The list of these go on and on. some throw much harder than others. Some never threw that hard. This adds to the above arguments, that junk ball pitchers might stand a chance with movement on a ball.
That being said, while a junk ball pitcher throwing in the low 80s could be a woman on a MLB team, where I think they might have stepped off the ledge a little has to do with her being on a National League team. For any of you reading from outside of the US (I have a few), the National League requires pitchers to bat in the lineup where American League pitchers do not bat, and a Designated Hitter is used. Often, this DH is a big, powerful hitter that may not play the field entirely well. When a NL team plays an AL team, the rules used have to do with who is the home team. Every year, there are some games scheduled between the AL/NL outside of the world series.
So – do I think a woman can hit a 98 mph fast ball? Maybe someday, but today isn’t likely. It’s not really even something I can pretend to entertain. A woman may be able to throw an 82 mph screwball, but hit a baseball going that fast? Ehhh….would it have been more believable to have her playing for an American League team? Yup.
If you haven’t watched the show yet, I encourage you to do so. Ali Larter is tough on the outside, but sweet. Mark Paul Gosselaar is a 42 year old playing a 36 year old catcher who is the locker room leader. The dad from the wonder years is the grimy old school coach.