Catcher “Crash” Davis (played by Kevin Costner) to pitcher Ebbie “Nuke” LaLoosh (played by Tim Robbins): “Relax, all right? Don't try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.” —Bull Durham (1988), written and directed by Rod Shelton
Yankee starter Phil Hughes might prefer the womanly charms of Annie Savoy, but right now he can sorely use the kind of attention bestowed by wise vet Crash Davis in Bull Durham. At least Nuke LaLoosh was a strapping, wet-behind-the-ears kid not used to the “Show.” No such excuse exists for Hughes, who has been tantalizing Bronx Bomber fans with his potential for several years in the big leagues without measurably advancing.
Hughes’ last game showed his maddening inconsistency: 10 strikeouts, but also three pitches served up for home runs. He specializes in jumping out to two quick strikes on batters, then being unable to finish them off. Sometimes, his pitch counts rise so high that he’s lucky to make it out of the fifth inning. That, of course, tires the fielders behind him.
Now comes the news that the Colorado Rockies are interested in acquiring Hughes and converting him into a reliever. That, however, would solve only one of his problems: the need to develop several pitches to get him through a game. It doesn’t deal with a bigger one: an inability to learn from, and adapt to, experience. Even Nuke, with the help of Crash, learned that "heat" alone wouldn't punch his ticket to "The Show."