You know in sports movies where there’s that one scene when the protagonist and/or his buddies/spouse/kids/moral compass is all like, ‘This is it. This is your only shot,’ even though it’s highly unlikely some major league team is going to watch a player throw five pitches and sign him to a contract let alone send him directly to the major leagues and that they’ve probably at least watched tape of the protagonist pitch or saw him at the five tryouts before that moment? You know that part?
You know how 100 percent of the time Dennis Quaid grooves a heater on the black and then there’s a cut to the radar gun and the little red numbers flash 098 and the portly man in the Hawaiian shirt takes of his fedora even though no one wears fedoras anymore and looks at the guy next to him who just happens to be the general manager or manager of the club?
Well Ryan Robowski did just the opposite of that.
I was going to wait a week, allow every JMMA nominee to get in a few games and allow myself enough time to research and profile each nominee. That changed on Saturday.
I was flipping down through the murders row of sports channels and accidentally came up one short of ESPN. The channel above happened to be MLB Network. And unlike about two weeks ago, I now magically got MLB Network. And the Tigers were on.
It was the start of the sixth inning, the Tigers and Blue Jays were tied at three and Ryan Robowski was just coming into the game.
This was his moment. This was likely the only inning I would ever watch of Robowski pitching in his life. He had one shot if he wanted the crown.
As Robowski warmed up, MLB Network pulled up the panel on the right side of the screen and flashed his stats and the color announcer — I never got his name — began to break down Robowski’s game.
The announcer started off strong, acting like he knew what he was talking about, calling him a left-handed specialist, throwing a couple stats in, outlining how he would be used by a club, but he ran out of things to say by Robowski’s fifth warm up pitch and ended up circling around to what he already said. Robowski finished his warmup and the announcer, who had thoroughly run out of steam had to wrap it up. He did so with this gem.
“Just a left-handed specialist. Not much — not much stuff there.”
On Robowski’s first pitch, the Toronto hitter (I refuse to look up his name) hit a firm line drive down the first base line. One of the many Tuiasosopos (I spelled that right on the first try by the way) dove, knocked it down and … chucked it 10 feet over Robowski’s head. It was called a single. Robowski struck out the next batter on three pitches, then walked two guys to load the bases.
It couldn’t have been more than a few pitches to the next batter, some fella by the name of Lance Zawadzki, when Robowski lobbed a ball over the plate. Zawadzki’ hit the ball with such force there was an audible ‘oooh’ from the crowd. The sound the bat made when hitting the ball — it was beautiful. It wasn’t just the ball just hitting the sweet spot on the bat. I’m pretty sure for the first time in my life, I heard the ball hit the bat’s G-spot. The right fielder half-heartedly jogged as the ball traveled over the scoreboard in right field.
That was all I needed to see.
Robowski may be good. He may make the majors some day. But the Hustle needs players who step up when the moment comes, who can make Dennis Quaid’s fake kids dance around in joy. Robowski didn’t do that. And that sir, is how you get cut.
The stats for all the contenders through the Tigers’ first three games: