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Time traveling with Marshall and Bauer

In “Back to the Future” – perhaps one of the most creative
movies ever made – Marty McFly goes back in time and is
stunned to see the way things used to be.

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.