From the Paris Review, here’s the latest installment of Bull City Summer by Adam Sobsey:
I am a pitching chauvinist. The mechanics of it are so complex, so cerebral, so deliberate—so difficult—that in the past, I’ve compared pitchers to authors and hitters to readers. Hitting a baseball is essentially reactive and instinctive; it seems like the sort of thing almost any big lug could do with enough practice, as long as he has wrists strong and quick enough to swing a bat, and decent hand-eye coordination.
This year, the Durham Bulls have a prized young slugger, twenty-two-year-old Wil Myers. Myers hit thirty-seven home runs in the minor leagues in 2012. He was so good that the Bulls’ parent club, the Tampa Bay Rays, traded one of their best major-league pitchers for him. Myers was assigned to Triple-A Durham for a final polish, but for the first third of the season he appeared to need much more than that: on May 23, he was batting just .244, had hit only four home runs, and had struck out in 28 percent of his at-bats—among the league’s highest rates.
Then Myers went on a tear, hitting five home runs in just six days, including one of the longest Durham Bulls Athletic Park has ever seen: a moonshot off the highest balcony of an office building that towers over left field. His home-run binge started a general surge of hard hitting, during which Myers’s OPS (the ultimate total-production stat for hitters) leaped from .712 to .874. The right-hander is so strong that balls he appears only to reach out and poke to right field hit the wall on the fly. He even fails with more intensity, looking more hotly annoyed with himself lately when he strikes out on bad pitches (rather than indifferent or chagrined, as he had before). Myers’s call-up to the major leagues seems imminent.
[Photograph by Frank Hunter]