Henry Rodriguez had talent exploding out of his arm in directions you couldn’t always guess, but he still felt like a throwback to an earlier version of the Nats, when the team made national highlight shows for bad things, outlandish things and jokey things more often than for winning ballgames.
The best quote ever issued about Rodriguez, of course, came from pitching coach Steve McCatty.
“He’s done everything that you would hope that he would do,” McCatty said last spring. “With his ability, if he does that, obviously his stuff is pretty frickin’ bueno.”
See, there was always that if with the flamethrower.
“If SMH-Rod turns back into MPH-Rod, then the day was well spent,” Boz wrote in May, after Rodriguez had earned the former nickname from fans.
“The ifs on Rodriguez are large ifs, indeed,” MASN’s Dan Kolko wrote in December. “If Rodriguez is healthy, he could be key option for manager Davey Johnson. If Rodriguez can develop a better sense of control, he could become an elite reliever.”
“Velocity is a great weapon if you can control location, but that’s been elusive for Rodriguez,” Phil Wood wrote just this week. “If you had no pitching depth at all, keeping him in the big-league bullpen might make more sense, but there are other arms already under contract.”
And thus, the sudden end of H-Rod’s time in D.C. There’s no way to pretend this item isn’t slightly classless, coming so soon after he was designated for assignment. But this is kind of what we do: we remember the crazy. So here are a few of the craziest.
Like the time his pitch to the backstop made fans wince.
Or the time his pitch bounced into the President’s Club.
Or the time his pitch ricocheted off the back wall and almost plunked him near the mound.
Now we’ll see if we end up missing him.