The M's welcomed University of Arizona softball pitcher Jennie Finch to camp as she filmed a segment for This Week in Baseball according to an article in Baseball "I don't acknowledge that other name" Weekly (no link possible, well, how about that!).
Finch also won the ESPN poll for "hottest" female athlete, impossibly beating the vaunted Anna Kournikova. She's not just another pretty face though (although the pretty face is the reason that I read the story on her Mariners visit in Baseball Weekly). She won 60 straight games and had a 0.15 ERA in college.
But in case you're interested, here's the face:
Anyway, if you're still reading, she pitched in the M's camp to manager Bob Melvin (not much of a hitter as a player) and Mikeameron. At first no one would face her, but these brave souls volunteered. She set up only 45 feet from home (evidently where the mound resides in softball) and allowed only one dribbler to short and a couple of fly balls. It wasn't clear from the article if she used a baseball or a softball.
I couldn't help but think of Jennifer/Loni Anderson on WKRP in Cincinnati, who in a company softball game posed near the mound as the awestruck batters struck out one by one (probably because I'm a sexist pig). However, let's just say that she has Henry Rowengartner-type stuff:
While warming up, Finch threw two pitches so hard that bullpen catcher Allen Wirtala couldn't catch them.
Wow, why didn't they try her off the rubber? (Kiss your mother with that mouth?)
Bob Melvin had this to say about his BP:
It's not like I haven't struck out before. It wasn't just the velocity but the way the ball starts out so low. I think we've found that fifth starter we've been looking for."
Yuck! Yuck! Clarence Thomas thought he was funny, too.
Seriously though, how could a major-league team see an arm that impressive and not even try her out on the mound with a baseball? I know almost nothing about organized softball, but have always heard that the pitchers, male and female, pitch tremendously faster than baseball pitchers. Why not try to convert the best of them to baseball?
I have never heard of any such experiment (though that does not mean it was never tried). There are cricket players throughout the world who pitch much faster than in the majors as well. Laugh if you must, but in the early days of base ball (when it was still two words), many cricket players were converted to the game, including the Hall-of-Famer Harry Wright. I know that they use different equipment and have different rules (heck, cricketers curve their wicked googleys on the bounce), but why hasn't someone tried to harness some of that pitching power? And in this case, they didn't even have to seek her out-she was standing right on their field.
Besides who would you rather see in you dugout, Finch or Jeff Nelson?