The best news during the Winter Meetings was about home-plate collisions, or rather the prospective prohibition thereof. The second-best news during the Winter Meetings was Roger Angell's Spink Award (and a HUGE thanks to Susan Slusser for initiating the process; without her, this simply would not have happened). But this news was pretty good, too:
#BlueJays have verbal agreement on minor-league deal with Tomo Ohka, who is a knuckleballer now. May start at double-A New Hampshire— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) December 12, 2013
Or he might not. He might return to the major leagues someday -- he hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009 (and hasn't been good since 2005) -- and he might not. What's important is that Ohka's added to the pool of potential major leaguers. He's only 37, which means he's got five or six years left in the game if he does harness that most difficult pitch. And we need as many of these guys as possible.
Last year, two knuckleballers pitched in the majors: R.A. Dickey and Steven Wright. Dickey's still good, and Wright might well become good enough to pitch in the majors more than briefly. But there hasn't been a season without a knuckleball pitcher since ... Well, I'm not sure exactly. Maybe sometime in the early '30s, or maybe a few decades before that (I don't have my books here in Lake Buena Vista).
I don't think we're going to have another knuckleball-less season any time soon. We've had potential crises before, and always a knuckleballer has somehow turned up, like a shiny penny. But I'd rather not take any chances.