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The St. Louis Cardinals' ace is into artisanal pitches now.
As discussed by Dan'n'Al'n'Rick in the booth during Friday night's Cardinals-Nationals opener: Adam Wainwright is working on a forkball. Not a splitter—a forkball, its vaguely retro, slowed-down, pre-Bruce-Sutter ancestor. I'm all for this: There's something weirdly cruel and vindictive about getting hitters to swing and miss on a pitch that by design looks easy to hit and is never, ever a strike.
But—and I say this as someone who believes the word "hipster" has for years now been divorced of all meaning except "someone who pays particular attention to something I do not value"—a forkball is absolutely the pitch Zooey Deschanel would learn to throw, right? It's not mainstream like a change-up, it's not hyper-aggressive and modern like a closer's splitter, and something about it seems vaguely sincere and polyester.
In a college town, you'd order a locally brewed forkball with a jokey seasonal name, and then you'd play a board game with your significant other while you read the latest issue of The Believer out loud to each other.
Adam Wainwright doesn't seem like the type, at least not off the field. I don't think he gets pumped up to Cat Power. But I think—and I don't mean this in a negative way—Adam Wainwright might be a pitch snob. His signature pitch is a big, anachronistic curveball; he's constantly tinkering with new ways to confuse the identity of his slider-slash-cutter; the Cardinals broadcasters briefly thought he was trying a knuckleball earlier this year. The forkball is just his latest artisanal pitch.