Friday, July 09, 2004

Dear Derek Lowe,

"Why is it when I pitch bad, I'm a mental reject. When everybody else pitches bad, they just pitched bad?" Derek Lowe asked a group of about two dozen reporters called to his locker before Thursday's game against Oakland.
Well Derek, because every time you give up an infield single you hang your head, pout, and proceed to give up consecutive hits that puts your team down a bunch of runs. All the while, your gesticulations and body language seem to indicate that mentally you're not in it. When Schilling, Martinez, Wakefield and even Arroyo get rocked, you seldom see a change in their demeanor -- they're just not making good pitches.

[Medical note/Disclaimer: I, like many of those questioning your mental state are not medically-trained, and as a consequence we are only speculating. But the fact that every time your luck turns you seem to mope around the mound -- and this wouldn't be noteworthy if, on occasion, you were able to right the ship, but more times than not (in fact, almost every time) you find yourself run off the field after putting the game out of reach -- for the Red Sox.]

The case seems to be reversed when talking about you. And I'm not sure the mental and physical failures are mutually exclusive. It seems when you get in a groove you're hard to beat and then some fluke play -- a swinging bunt single or a misplayed ball by any one of the cast of characters playing behind you -- and the next thing you know you've hung your head, lost your concentration and in the process you're giving up hits by the bunches and are subsequently run from the game. For specifics, consider your last start. You were cruising against the Braves, giving up one run through four innings and then:

[Lowe] appeared to be cruising against the Braves on Sunday before an infield hit was followed by a four-pitch walk and soon four consecutive hits, including a homer that chased him from the game.
By the time you left the game you looked like you'd just completed a week-long sleep deprivation study.

I wrote a post just the other day about how the 2004 season is statistically much worse than your previous six. And I mentioned nothing about whether your shortcomings were mental or physical. I suspect that most fans (and probably the media too) only mention your mental hangups because of all your antics when bad luck befalls you. If you were 8-2 no one would accuse of being mentally weak -- instead you'd be described as eccentric -- maybe very Oil Can Boyd-esque.

So the bottom line is not that the media treat you differently than other pitchers because they blame all your faults on being soft between the ears. Instead, they ask these questions because you lose -- and lose in grand fashion. In 2002 you won 21 games and last season you won 17. How many writers asked you about your mental makeup? I'm guessing you can count them on one hand -- for the whole season. And the reason you didn't hear from them is because you were winning. So my advice to you is to quit whining about unfair treatment and just concentrate on winning games.