We have twenty-six days left until the next Buckeye football season starts in earnest. And yes, we're all excited, giddy, even elated at the prospects. But humor me a moment, because we're going to talk a little bit of baseball (BOO! or not? hear me out) before we return you to your regularly scheduled NCAA football action. If you're not into baseball, you may want to skip ahead a couple of paragraphs.
I am a die-hard Cincinnati Reds fan (as anyone following along on the social media network twitter have probably picked up on), and I attended my first Reds game of the season on Saturday night (c'mon; I'm a busy man who lives 2 hours away.) I was excited for the game mostly because the Reds have put together a really nice run, but I was also quite giddy about the possibility of finally seeing the Reds' closer, Aroldis Chapman, in person. For those of you who aren't aware, Chapman is one of baseball's most electric relievers with a ridiculous left arm. Nicknamed the "Cuban Missile", his fastball has been clocked in excess of 104 mph on the radar gun. He has completely dominated the National League with 99 strikeouts in the closer role.
The stadium was packed for the game, but the electricity of the atmosphere went up another two notches minimum when the 9th inning came around and Chapman entered the game. He proceeded to strike out the first overmatched Pittsburgh Pirate batter, allowed a hit, and then ultimately got the final two outs to seal it. The outcome of the game, which on the surface was a close one-run game and had been a back and forth affair until the Reds took the lead, was never in doubt, however, to the majority of the fans. They basically knew the game was over the moment Chapman came out of the bullpen. From then on, my entire party were on the edge of our seats, standing on every pitch and gasping in awe every time the radar flashed 100 or 101 miles per hour. Chapman is one of those transcendent types that only comes along a few times every decade, and may in fact be the most exciting athlete that I have ever seen in person.
So, who on the 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes can be that kind of player? Troy Smith was certainly exciting in his time. I mean, he beat Texas on the road, ran the gauntlet against Michigan as a starter, won the Heisman; enough said. Terrelle Pryor, despite his faults, had his fair share of "DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN HOW DID HE DO THAT" moments. The closest I feel as the type of guy that could change the game every single time he touched the ball was Chris "Beanie" Wells, with that devastating stiff-arm and surprising (given his size) leaps over defenders. But I believe that Braxton Miller, based on his freshman season, has the potential to be right up there, if not better than all the players listed by the end of his Buckeye career.
How often did we see Miller make solid defenders grasp nothing but air on those 3rd-and-Pataskala plays, flying in the face of every Jim Bollman (HASHTAG WALRUSBALL) dream? We knew the QB draw was coming, yet we stayed on the edge of our seats because something amazing could happen on the ensuing play even if it initially appeared hopeless.
Throughout his freshman year, we saw Braxton Miller make mistakes. We saw him take inexcusable sacks and throw wild interceptions. But we also saw him do *this*. And *this*. In Aroldis Chapman's first couple of season, he hit 105 on the radar gun in San Diego. He also had a meltdown at home against the hated St. Louis Cardinals where he gave up 5 runs, and was sent down to the minor leagues. Chapman has now developed into arguably the most dominant closer in the National League, and one of baseball's most electrifying players.
Given his unique physical tool set and the adjoining system to match, there's little reason Braxton Miller can't do something similar the next couple of years in football.
Who was/is your favorite athlete that you've ever seen in person? Which current (or future) Buckeye(s) can leave you aghast in the next several seasons?