John Bale will go down as a strange character in Royals history for me. He was seemingly always injured, and when he was playing, he still looked like he was suffering from some crippling Jose Guillen disease. Also, he resembled my middle-aged neighbor who likes to mow his yard shirtless. Which, while very disturbing in its own right, paled (ha ha) in comparison with his basic ineptitude on the mound.
Which is why he is a strange character...
I mean, Dayton and Co. went to a fair amount of effort to pluck this guy out of Japan, so you have to assume he was at least moderately talented at some point in time - maybe 1998. Regardless, he will be most remembered as an upper-80's tossing low -70's slinging fastball curveball guy with control issues.
EXCEPT FOR ONE GAME.
Yes, John Bale had one mindboggling outing with the Royals that will stick with me forever. It happened in 2007, in September, and the Royals were getting the everliving shit beat out of them by the Yankees at the K. Actually, it was only a 6-3 game, but it was still plainly obvious the game was over. ENTER: John Bale in the 5th inning. Over the next 3.2 innings, Bale proceeded to allow 2 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and struck out 7. SEVEN! He struck out:
Even more bizarre than Bale's sudden effectiveness, was the fact that he did this throwing 92-94 mph... This is a guy that averaged, like, 89 on the 4-seamer for the vast majority of his tenure with the Royals. That was on the good days. I vividly remember watching this game, and thinking - the gun is juiced - then I checked Gameday, and it said YES, he is throwing that hard. And the swings were late, and it really looked like he WAS throwing that hard. It is worth mentioning that it was a day game, so the shadows might have had some effect, but STILL:
For one day, John Bale threw really hard with an absurd breaking ball and made the Yankees his bitch. Which makes me wonder... was he throwing that hard the day Dayton's scout saw him in Japan? Amazing how deceiving one outing can be.
Gameday for 9/9/2007