A week ago Friday, Mascot Stalker Liz Clayton and I witnessed the Staten Island Yankees’ ambidextrous closer Pat Venditte walk in a couple of runs before blowing away 3 Mahinng Valley hitters in a row en route to his 6th save of the NY-Penn League season. Venditte, subject of nearly as many YouTube clips as that skateboarding dog, can now cope with the additional notoriety of inspiring a highly publicized rule change, writes Newsday’s Katie Strang.
Venditte’s talent has prompted Minor League Baseball to add a rule that gives the batter the last call in such standoffs. The pitcher now must indicate which arm he intends to pitch with, and the hitter then decides how he will bat.
Within two weeks of being made aware of the potential confusion of a switch pitcher facing a switch hitter, Justin Klemm, executive director of the PBUC (Professional Baseball Umpire Corp.), helped to draft the rule to avoid any future meetings of the sort becoming “a sideshow.”
“He has a very special skill and we wanted to address it in a timely manner,” Klemm said, adding that making changes or additions to the rules is very rare. “Baseball is a game of tradition, so you don’t usually change overnight.”
Pitching coach Pat Daneker said the new rule is only slightly less advantageous.
“Before, the hitter had to declare what he was going to do. Now Pat has to declare what he has to do first,” Daneker said. “The only thing we have to worry about is switch hitters, and essentially, we can dictate which way we want them to hit anyway, so we still have a little bit of advantage when it comes down to it.”
Venditte said it is a little overwhelming to have a rule created because of his special skill, but he said he’ll adjust. “I’d like to have the last say, but that’s out of my hands,” Venditte said. “I can’t control that. All I can control is how I perform.”
For Venditte, pitching is no joke. Despite his highly unusual ability to pitch with either hand, he wants to be known as a legitimate talent, not a novelty.
“That’s up to me,” he said. “If I go out there and look like a circus, then that’s how people are going to think of me, but if I go out there and get people out, they’re going to have a different perception, so in the end, that’s really up to me and it depends how hard I work.”
Davey Johnson’s team of U.S. prospects are trailing a squad creatively dubbed “The World”, 3-0 in the 8th inning of the MLB Futures Game. Despite the Steve Phillips commentary, it’s been a fun game, but I do have conceptual objections. If this contest is really meant to reflect the future, shouldn’t it really be The World vs. an Alien Invasion? The Human Race vs. Earth’s Depleted Resources? I’ll admit, I’m a little on edge having read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” earlier this summer, but I’m pretty sure when the future gets here, none of us will really want former UT catcher Taylor Teagarden as our last line of defense.