Friday, February 23, 2007


Legends start in the wind.

They float over high-school baseball fields and dimly lit towns. They move quickly through places like Charleston and Tampa and Trenton.

They pass along busy counters and across tables and around subway cars. They build on park benches and at newsstands and bars and cigar shops and crowded groceries.

And then one day a whole city is talking about someone they’ve never seen. A pitcher who is equal parts Walter Johnson and Roger Clemens. The Big Train and The Rocket rolled into one big strike-throwing machine.

Legends like that can’t be written and they certainly can’t be broadcast. And that’s why they can only be forged here, in New York, where baseball isn’t just the most important game, but often the most important thing. Period.

Phil Hughes is all anyone is talking about this morning. His legend is seeping from the sidewalks and the sewers and rising over the city in a cloud that will surely burst into the sunniest day of a beautiful baseball summer.

Newspaper reports will continue and we will probably get a television look in Spring Training, but we won’t truly see him until he squeezes through the clubhouse door at Yankee Stadium.

The legend will grow as we anticipate the moment he climbs the mound and throws his first pitch.

Close your eyes for a look: blazing fastballs, knee-buckling curves, exploding sliders, and disappearing changes.

The stuff of legends.

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