is especially hopeful about Finch's ultimate decision. "I think we'll bring
him around," he said a few days ago. "After all, the guy's not a nut,
he's a Harvard man."
In the meantime,
the Mets can only wait. Finch periodically turns up at the enclosure. Reynolds
is summoned. There are no drills. Sometimes Finch throws for five minutes,
instantly at top speed, often for half an hour. Then he leaves. Security around
the enclosure has been tight. Since Finch has not signed with the Mets, he is
technically a free agent and a potential find for another club. The curious,
even Met players, are politely shooed away from the Payson Field enclosure. So
far Finch's only association with Met players (other than Reynolds) has been
the brief confrontation with Christensen, Cochrane and Dykstra when the front
office nervously decided to test his control with a batter standing in the box.
If he decides to play baseball, he will leave his private world of the canvas
enclosure and join manager Johnson and the rest of the squad. For the first
time Gary Carter, the Mets' regular catcher, will face the smoke of the Finch
pitch, and the other pitchers will stand around and gawk. The press will have a
field day ("How do you spell Siddhartha? How do you grip the ball? How do
you keep your balance on the mound?"). The Mets will try to protect him
from the glare and help him through the most traumatic of culture shocks,
praying that in the process he will not revert and one day disappear.
presence of Hayden (Sidd) Finch in the Mets' training camp raises a number of
interesting questions. Suppose the Mets (and Finch himself) can assuage and
resolve his mental reservations about playing baseball; suppose he is signed to
a contract (one wonders what an ascetic whose major possessions are a bowl, a
small rug, a long stick and a French horn might demand); and suppose he comes
to New York's Shea Stadium to open the season against the St. Louis Cardinals
on April 9. It does not matter that he has never taken a fielding drill with
his teammates. Presumably he will mow down the opposition in a perfect game.
Perhaps Willie McGee will get a foul tip. Suppose Johnson discovers that the
extraordinary symbiotic relationship of mind and matter is indefatigable—that
Finch can pitch day after day at this blinding, unhittable speed. What will
happen to Dwight Gooden? Will Carter and the backup catchers last the season?
What will it do to major league baseball as it is known today?
baseball's new commissioner, was contacted by SI in his New York office. He was
asked if he had heard anything about the Mets' new phenomenon.
No, he had not.
He had heard some rumors about the Mets' camp this spring, but nothing
Did the name
Hayden (Sidd) Finch mean anything to him?
was told that the Mets had a kid who could throw the ball over 150 mph.
Ueberroth took a
minute before he asked, "Roll that by me again?"
He was told in as
much detail as could be provided about what was going on within the canvas
enclosure of the Pay-son compound. It was possible that an absolute
superpitcher was coming into baseball—so remarkable that the delicate balance
between pitcher and batter could be turned into disarray. What was baseball
going to do about it?