Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yellow Submarine

Sitting somewhere deep in the Rays bullpen lies a relief pitcher who could be the most vital player on the Rays entire roster. He is half man, half submarine, and is absolutely lethal against right handed hitters. Jayson Werth and Pat Burrell, you both are on notice. I hope you both have fun hitting against a pitcher, who almost underhands the ball to home plate as his right arm swings down to the dirt of mound. Ahhh, the beauty of a 77 MPH fastball, submarine style. Of course, the man I'm talking about is Chad Bradford.

Bradford, who was acquired by the Rays from the Orioles in August, is not a household name. Most casual fans have never heard of him except as "that guy who throws funny." However, there is no one else I would want on the mound against a righty in a big spot if I am the Rays. Sure Dan Wheeler has been good this season and yes, Grant Balfour does throw magnificently hard, but neither of these guys can do what Bradford does. I know because I've watched it.

When Bradford was a Met in 2006, he was part of the specialist twin towers featuring himself and lefty specialist Pedro Feliciano. Bradford quickly became a favorite of Mets manager Willie Randolph and Mets fans alike because of his unique throwing style and dominance against right handed hitters. Once the postseason rolled around, Bradford's role changed from a middle reliever to one of the first guys out of the pen. Willie Randolph had that much faith in Bradford. Against the Cardinals in the NLCS, Bradford became Mr. Reliable out of the pen by routinely getting Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, David Eckstein, and Yadier Molina out. These guys had no shot against the submarine styles of Chad Bradford. Unfortunately for me, Bradford left the Mets after the 2006 season and quite honestly, my life, and the Mets, have never been the same.

So that's the Bradford I knew. The submariner will go down as one of my favorite relievers of all time and one of the most dependable and reliable against righties. Rays fans, enjoy him while you can. Enjoy watching Bradford submarine a ball over to first base like he did in game 6 of the ALCS. Enjoy watching righties look downright terrible against him. Mr. Maddon, Bradford is golden in a big spot, put him in...have faith. Rays fans will learn to love him like I did.

And trust me, he will come up big in the World Series. Just watch.

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