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Speed Dating with Erik Goeddel

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Colorado Rockies v New York Mets Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images



A gong chimes and MIKE sits down on the communal bench, across from ERIK, IPA in hand. He’s dressed in a red and blue flannel, with a flat-brim, compass-logo Mariners hat.

MIKE, sticking out his hand: Hey man, I’m Mike.

ERIK: Erik. Good to meet you.

MIKE: It’s great to meet you too. This was such a cool idea by the M’s front office, to bring in all the fringe players on the roster for a speed-dating style meet-and-greet...

ERIK blinks, cocks his head slightly to the side

MIKE sits up, blushing: I mean, not that you’re fringe, obviously. You’re just new, and you were the player they replaced Ichiro with, but I’m pretty high on you. I’ve been talking up that killer splitter to all the guys in my fantasy team, since that’s what really generates the team-high swinging strike rate you’ve got going now. You’re definitely a legitimate contributor - hell, you’ve been worth more fWAR than Leake or Félix. Nah, definitely not fringey, not like -

Mike leans in, closer to Erik, and gestures to the end of the table where a bearded man is sitting patiently while a pimply teenage boy gesticulates wildly across from him.

MIKE, conspiratorially: - that dude Bradford. I mean, where’d he even come from, right?

ERIK, flatly: The Mets. Just like I did. We were teammates for four years through the minors and with the big league club. He and I even took over the New Balance Fitness Challenge together after Grandy left.

MIKE: That’s super cool! I had no idea you guys were so tight! Um, okay, so this is supposed to be like -

Mike makes elaborate air quotes

MIKE: - “Speed dating,” so, uh, what’s your favorite thing to do other than play baseball?

ERIK: I’m big into golf. I’ve even got the one-handed swing down, to take it easy on my arm. My brother and I golf sometimes - he’s a pro ball player, too.

MIKE: Really? That’s sweet! Have you guys faced each other?

ERIK: We’re four years apart, so we didn’t overlap much when we were young, but our teams faced off in 2016 when he was on the Phillies and I was on the Mets.

MIKE: That’s awesome. Okay, so what was it like, replacing a freaking legend like Ichiro?

ERIK, smiles good-naturedly: Yeah, it’s kind of wild and kind of a humbling thing. It’s exciting, obviously, getting the chance, but at the same time I walk in and it’s Ichiro’s last day and here he is addressing the team about it.

MIKE: Oh for sure, that must’ve been insane. And then they just threw you out there that night, and you threw nearly 2 scoreless, hitless innings with three Ks!

ERIK, grinning: Haha yeah, that was a pretty ideal debut. I’m hoping to keep that good momentum going with the team all season.

MIKE: Okay, but what if you’re in a tight spot. Like, say, you walk the first two guys you’ve faced on nine pitches in extra innings? What’s your go-to?

ERIK: Definitely the splitter. Like you said earlier, it gets a lot of swings and misses - a quarter of the time last year, actually. They moved me to the ‘pen in 2014, and then I went through a pretty long rehab stint in 2015 - my arm felt a little like it did back before I had Tommy John surgery in high school, but the MRI came back negative - and during that time I just completely revamped my pitch mix. I used to throw a changeup and a slider, a two-seamer, and I don’t throw any of those anymore. I added a splitter. I just throw four-seam fastballs, curveballs and splitters.

A gong chimes in the background

MIKE: Whoah, that time really flew by, huh?

ERIK raises his eyebrows, smiles wryly: Hah, yeah, it sure did

MIKE: Okay, um, last question, real quick: what’s your nickname?

ERIK, chuckles and shrugs: Uh, Goopy. It’s what my teammates call me, and what I wore for Player’s Weekend last year. Don’t really know why.

Mike has drained the last of his IPA, and is looking around for someone to get him a refill.

MIKE, distractedly: Oh, yeah, hah, that’s cool man. Anyway, it was nice to meet you!

Mike slides down the bench, while gesturing for another IPA from the bartender who has her arms full of pint glasses.

MIKE, crossing his arms on the table and leaning forward: Casey! My man! Let’s talk about that delivery, huh?


[Author’s note: This is entirely a work of fiction, save for the linked quotes, which were taken from additional articles. If you would, inexplicably, like to see lots of wobbly footage of Erik Goeddel’s over-the-top motion on the mound in Tacoma, please feel free to send me a message.]