Baseball is the sport of magic and mystery. You'll never see a football movie where a guy hears voices and ruins his farm to build a football field, unwittingly allowing him to violently collide with his father one last time. Basketball is tethered to raw athleticism. Allen Iverson, the oldest player in the history of the NBA (without looking it up), was just 34 when he left the NBA -- that wouldn't even make him old enough to be a Brian Sabean-related punch line.
But in baseball ... things are beautiful.
No, no. I mean, the balance of finesse, athleticism, and narrative. Baseball is the kind of game where a guy who is almost 40 and coaching high schoolers can give pro ball one more shot in a totally honest and non-orchestrated-by-Disney kind of way. Baseball is the kind of game where a five-foot-one, 19-year-old from Japan can win a game if her knuckler is dancing. Yes, raw strength and athleticism is still the main currency of baseball, but there's just enough artistry and finesse to allow for things you wouldn't see in other sports.
The Angels are expected to call up 29-year-old right-hander Jerome Williams from triple-A Salt Lake Wednesday to fill the roster spot vacated by right-hander Trevor Bell, who was optioned to Salt Lake after throwing 4 1/3 innings of two-run, six-hit relief in Tuesday night's 7-3 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Williams hasn't been in the majors in four seasons. He hadn't even pitched in the minors for a couple seasons. But he showed up in the Angels' system this year, and he's pitched well:
Don't be too concerned about the home runs -- in Salt Lake City, it's still considered a shutout if the pitcher allows six solo home runs. And for all of that talk about finesse and style points, Williams is throwing 94 mph in the ninth inning of his starts. He's not exactly trying to come back on the Livan Hernandez, 65-mph curveball plan.
This is the year of the comeback pitcher, then. Ryan Vogelsong is among the league leaders in ERA this season, despite leaving the majors five years ago with a busted arm and one of the worst performance records in history. Dontrelle Willis went from pleasant memory to viable major-league starter when no one was looking. And Jerome Williams is back in the majors.
Maybe this isn't going to impress anyone who isn't a Giants, Cubs, or Nationals fan. But even if you don't remember Jerome Williams as a pitcher, you can think of him as a reminder that baseball is a weird game that likes to mess with your minds. It's the one sport where "Remember that guy?" can turn into "Wait, that guy is playing for my team?" with more frequency than any other sport, and it's beautiful.