Time goes by so incredibly fast, and it’s going by faster the older I get. It seems like yesterday, although it was 2003, that the Rice Owls won the College World Series. I remember their 3 aces, Niemann, Humber and Townsend, along with Lance Pendleton and their arm-shredding coach, Wayne Graham. I remember OF Chris Kolkhorst, who I thought fer Sher was gonna be a star, 1B Vince Sinisi, who I thought had a good chance to make it to the majors until I realized he was being blocked by Mark Teixiera and/or Hank Blalock – but I digress, and SS Paul Janish, who, to my surprise, made it to the bigs with the Reds. And of course, closer David Aardsma, who
Anyway, they were all sophomores so Niemann went to the Rays first round 04, Humber went to the Mets first round 04 and Townsend to the Orioles first round 04 – he refused to sign with them and the next year signed with the Rays first round after sitting out a year.
Townsend needed TJ surgery in 05 – and he never regained his pitching ability – got as high as AA in 08 where he threw 22 terrible innings, and was done. At least he had all that bonus $$$.
Niemann took 4 years to reach the majors, started 2 games in 08, and has been an OK 4th/5th starter with an aggregate 97 ERA+ over 516 IP and 86 GS. Not so great for a first rounder, but at least he, unlike Townsend and humber, didn’t have to have his elbow rebuilt.
Phil had a Wade Townsend start to his ML career – well, unlike Wade, he signed right away. I meant that the Graham shredding had done a number on his pitching elbow and he had to have TJ surgery in 05. He was coming back when he was traded to the Twins in the johan Santana trade. He did lousy at AAA for 2 years with Minnesota, as well as his 20 scattered innings in the bigs and they gave up on him.
The Royals signed him for the 09 season and he threw 20 blah innings in the bigs and 188 blah innings at AAA, unremarkable hit and K rate.
The A’s picked him after the season, thoguht about it, dropped him, and the White Sox took him off waivers. I guess Don Cooper was the ticket for Humber, because something clicked for him at age 28 and he pitched better in the majors than he had done at any organization’s AAA club – threw 26 games and 2 in relief over 168 innings with a 3.75 ERA 112 ERA+ and a 1.17 WHIP. Nothing extraordinary though – had 6 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and 8.5 H/9. No game lasted more than 7 IP, and he had 4 games in which he gave up no runs over those 7 IP.
But you know, sometimes the unlikeliest guys throw no hitters or perfect games. Anyone remember Bud Smith? No one would remember Armando Galarrhaga if it wasn’t for the blown call. And some of the greatest pitchers ever haven’t thrown any nonos – Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Roger Clemens.
And it’s unbelieveable how many of the recent nonos have been thrown against the Rays – I mean, since they got good in 08 – with all their great hitters, how is that possible??? I’m always surprised that the post 08 Astros haven’t gotten no-hit and the one that Zambrano got against the immediately post-Ike shell shocked team, you know, where the guys couldn’t even get in contact with their family members, it doesn’t count to me.
It’s baseball and youneverknow…
But what I want to know is – what on EARTH went wrong with the Mariners? It’s like the minute Edgar Martinez retired, no one could hit, well except for Ichiro and all those slap/infield hits. But it seemed to be the park where good hitters went to suck. Yeah, their GMs seemed to sign a lot of old FA, but for some reason, they went from good to bad as soon as they got to Seattle and their fans have about given up in spite of the small surge of hope when they hired Zdurencik, who doesn’t seem to have made a bit of difference in either the major league or minor league club.
It’s amazing how fast a good club can go bad, especially when clubs don’t really make any sort of serious backup plans and keep old, worn out guys playing full time when they don’t merit it any more. I still don’t understand why they don’t seriously try to work harder with the talent they DO have in the minors. Like, say, Humber. How is it that he rotten in 3 different Organizations for all that time? Why did he get picked up after all those years of suckage and why did he suddenly have success?
But hats off to the guy and best wishes for his future.