My wife and I were in Seattle in June, 2008 when Tyler Clippard made one of his two starts that season. In the sixth or seventh inning, the Mariners loaded the bases and Richie Sexson came to bat.
Yeah, I know. Most of the Mariners fans around me groaned and assured me the rally was over (Mariners fans are the nicest people in the world, by the way). Still, Sexson was a power hitter capable of turning the game ugly. It was not a particularly easy assignment for Clippard but Manny Acta opted to let him handle it.
Clippard struck Sexson out. Again, yeah, I know. Richie Sexson. You're just going to have to trust me. Something about the way Clippard carried himself, well, it was encouraging. I thought the Nats had found a reliable starter.
That said, I want the person who decided to make him a reliever to come forward and be awarded a medal. Even if it was JimBow. Tilt your head ever so slightly and let us hang it around your neck. Let us applaud. Great call.
Most of those kind of switches are made because a team either doesn't have room in its rotation or isn't too sure exactly what it has in a certain pitcher (coughMockcough). That's probably the case with the Clippard decision, too, but to use a bad cliche, he took to it like a duck to water.
There may not be a National I enjoy watching work more these days. He rares back, he fires and BAM. Go sit down. I don't think it's possible for me to like him more, even if he pulled a Kenny Powers after each strikeout.
And he looks so daggone cool in those glasses. Eighteen strikeouts in 13.2 innings, with four Ks coming last night.
He's the Nationals' All-Star rep at this point (never too early for that nonsense, is it). I'd even name him First Three Weeks Cy Young. To heck with Ubaldo and Halladay! OK, I'm way biased and way off base there. My point is, he's lights out and fun to watch.
Last night's real stars were Rip Van Dunn, finally waking up, and Luis Atilano, whose seven-letter last name was prounced a dozen or so different ways on television (at-til-lawn-o, my friend Jill says). A debut to remember, for sure, and I'm interested to see what he can do in the future. Is he a keeper or a spaceholder? Do we send flowers and chocolates to Atlanta as a thank you? Get back to me on all that.
Right now, I'm headed to eBay to type in "Tyler Clippard glasses" and see what comes up.