Time traveling with Marshall and Bauer
In "Back to the Future 2" - perhaps one of the worst sequels I have ever sat through - Marty McFly goes 30 years into the future and is stunned to see the way things will be.
On Thursday night, separated by only a couple of hours, we revved up the Flux Capacitor and took a trip ourselves. Suns draft pick Kendall Marshall is a nostalgic look into the past. D-backs phenom Trevor Bauer is a curious vision of the future.
The Suns drafted Marshall to be their point guard of the future while staunchly insisting his selection doesn't necessarily mean the departure of Steve Nash. Maybe not, but it sure feels like goodbye. One day Marshall will be the starting point guard of the Suns. Whether that day is in two weeks or two years, who knows. But we know this: Marshall is old school all the way. Like dial-up internet and the VCR.
A tough minded, pass-first-shoot-later distributor. The selfless leader type who thrives on getting others involved. The hash tag on his twitter account reads #PassFir5t. Roy Williams called him the best passer he's ever coached. Once upon a time a point guard like that was once a pillar of the NBA.
Russell Westbrook he ain't. Marshall lacks great athleticism and isn't a lights-out shooter. Jay Bilas described the lottery's other point guard, Damian Lillard, as being in range the moment he is in the gym. Jeff Van Gundy joked that if the Suns keep Nash, they'll have two guards who can't guard the dribble so it should work out just fine.
Is there still a place in today's NBA for a point guard like Marshall or is he an anachronism? The answer to that may lie in the players that surround him. What good is a pass first point guard if he has no one elite to pass to? Or is he so good that he'll make the players around him better? A point guard like that might serve as a magnet to players who don't want to worry about sharing their shots with a guy like Westbrook.
Bauer, on the other hand, is from another planet. Ignore for a moment how he pitches and just focus on the way he warms up. He stretches, runs, jumps, works out with a giant rubber band, and of course, engages in the crazy foul pole to foul pole session of long toss. The one that requires a cutoff man just to get the ball back to him. Oh yeah, and that crow hop warm-up pitch he throws behind the mound before each inning.
Once the game starts, he throws nine or ten different pitches; all sorts of variations on his curve, slider and something he calls a reverse slider.
Bauer's debut wasn't as smooth as hoped. It was like the grand finale of a Fourth of July fireworks show that wasn't all that grand ("is that all?"). Four innings and 74 pitches later it was over. Maybe he is from another planet but he's still just a kid; I'm sure he was a little jittery so I won't be too hard on him. (We discovered after the game that he has dealing with a groin issue from the third inning on-factor that in with the 50 pitches he threw just a few days ago and enough was enough). But the walks, the pitch count, all the things that can be a little concerning about Bauer showed up Thursday night.
In direct contrast, Patrick Corbin came into the game and put on a Crash Davis-inspired display of old school pitching, inducing six very democratic groundballs in his three innings of work. Because strikeouts are boring and fascist, right Crash?
Maybe not entirely, but surely the Diamondbacks would like Bauer to pitch to contact more often. Does Bauer need to introduce a little typical into his atypical ways in order to succeed? Or does he know something the rest of us don't? My guess is the D-backs will give him plenty of room to be Trevor Bauer. Doing things his way has worked awfully well for him up to this point.
A glimpse into the past. A view of the future. Which will make for the better movie remains to be seen.