Thursday, January 02, 2014

Mark Mulder Come Back

Mark Mulder to Try MLB Come back with Anaheim Angels
OK, I hate writing sports articles, because I love the game so much.  In my not so distant pass I could name almost every starting 8 for every team in the Majors as well as their 5 starters and their closer.  That's a lot of useless data for someone that doesn't work in the front office of an MLB Franchise.  It is a source of living vicariously through those less than half your age.  At a certain point you find yourself "watching" more than "doing" I'm sure Charles Krauthammer would agree.
Soon, you start becoming critical of the general manager and the scouts of your favorite team.  Then you criticize the Team Manager for over using your  favorite pitcher.  Actually, once you get to the point of being a Baseball super freak, you don't really have a  special team anymore.  Rooting for the Home team clouds your ability to appreciate the skills of great players from other teams.  So I guess although I wear a S.F. Giants Cap and was a Fan of Buster Posey since his college days, and still run into Willie Mays every now and then, I still love to watch Felix Hernandez of Seattle Pitch, I love watching Yasiel Puig of the Bums (Dodgers) make magical catches in the outfield and I can enjoy a 1-0 pitching duel. No matter who the teams are.  In fact, I enjoy......No!, LOVE watching little league games.
This brings us to Mark Alan Mulder.  Mark was a two time All-star for the Oakland A's. He finished 2nd in the Cy Young Award voting in 2001 with 21 wins.  He was one (And some say the best at the time) of the "Big Three" Starters for Oakland in the early 2000s which included All-star Tim Hudson and Barry Zito.  Towards the end of the 2003 season, Mark started suffering shoulder pain.  His performance went down and his ERA (Earned Run Average) went up.  He continued to produce for the A's in All-Star fashion but was hurting.  The A's general manager "Billy Beane", author of "Money Ball" traded the left handed starter to St. Louis for the young prospect "Dan Haren" at the end of the 2004 season. 
In 2005, Mulder brought his American league ERA of 4.46 down to 3.64 which is not unusual for an A.L. pitcher when he makes the transition to the N.L. as he no longer has the DH to pitch to.  But the previous/mysterious pains and unidentified injuries would lead to a rotator cuff tear.  His career was never the same.  His last outing was a 16 pitch start in 2008 as he threw 8 straight balls before he left the mound in pain wearing a Cardinal uniform.
In 2010 Mulder officially declared his MLB career over.  He became a broadcaster for ESPN.  While covering a Dodger game for ESPN, he noticed the throwing motion of Dodger pitcher Paco Rodriguez.  When he attempted to copy the Dodger pitcher's delivery, he found that he could do it without causing any pain in his shoulder.
At a recent Birthday party for one of his daughters, Mulder got a chance to throw to his friend and former catcher Kyle Lohse.  Mulder was in fact able to throw hard without pain (using Rodriguez's pitching style).  In November the 36 year old former All-Star got himself in shape and threw off a pitching mound in front of several scouts at the winter meetings in December.  The Angels saw him throw a 90 mph fastball on two separate occasions. 
So Anaheim offered Mulder a chance to compete for a spot on the Angel pitching rotation this spring.  America loves a comeback story and if Mark can make it work, he'll have middle aged men across America rooting for him.  Or at least in southern California.  I've met Mark and he's a wonderful person.  I'll be pulling for him.  I only wish he could have been re-united with Tim Hudson who signed a contract with the San Francisco Giant's organization this past winter.  We will be watching and rooting.


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