Washington Post reporter Adam Kilgore had a fascinating conversation with Washington Nationals slugger Jayson Werth about hitting, and Werth says something that's sure to be disputed by readers:
His close friend Raul Ibañez, the ageless outfielder now playing for the Los Angeles Angels, once told him, “If you can hit, you can do anything.” Werth found it irrefutable, a simple edict spun from perfect logic.
“Because it doesn’t work both ways,” Werth said. “Just because you can do something else doesn’t mean you can hit. If you can hit, you can do anything. Because it’s the hardest thing to do. There’s nothing harder. I can bake a cake. I could figure out a way to do algorithms. But a guy that knows how to do algorithms could never hit. It’s literally the hardest thing to do. If you can do the hardest thing, you can do anything else.”
“There’s nothing harder in the galaxy,” he said.
There's nothing harder in the galaxy. It's like sitting down with Obi Jayson Kenobi. But is he right? It's an old baseball axiom that "nothing is harder in sports than hitting a baseball." But the galaxy?
What's the hardest job? A plurality might say President of the United States. Once he turns 35 years old in May, Werth could run. Anyone born in the United States (or wherever) of that age could be president with the right backing. Would Werth be a good president? Maybe, maybe not. But that's not the question. The question is, "Can Barack Obama hit a baseball?" He can shoot a basketball. He can swing a golf club. He can fill out a bracket without a teleprompter. But it's a safe assumption that he cannot hit a baseball at a professional, much less a major league, level.
With the proper training, the right baseball player — like anyone else — probably could do anything. Perform heart surgery. Pilot a jet in a dogfight with some Russkies. Bake a cake with algorithms in it.
But could we take the top surgeon, best fighter pilot or finest baker-mathematician and make him or her able to hit a baseball? Hitting a round baseball with a round bat is something you can either do or you can't. Training is important, but you have to have the talent in the first place. Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player ever. A genius. Get him on a baseball field, and he was mediocre at best among Class AA players.
It's not proof, but it's a strong indication. Werth is probably right. What happened the last time you tried hitting a 95 mph fastball?
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