Twins fans never knew Pat Light too well. The 25-year-old joined the Twins in August of last season and appeared in 15 games out of the bullpen. The Twins’ new front office, having signed veteran righty reliever Matt Belisle, did us all a favor by trading Light to the Pirates for cash considerations or a player to be named later earlier this month.
Light was clogging up the Twins’ already-crowded corps of interchangeably mediocre, stubbly, ruddy-faced, right-handed relievers — Michael Tonkin, Ryan Pressly, Casey Fien, J.R. Graham, Kevin Jepsen, J.T. Chargois — to the extent that it became easier to just call them all Michael Tonkin and not sweat it too much.
After just 14 innings pitched in a Twins uniform — during which he compiled a 9.00 ERA with 15 walks and a 2.143 WHIP — it would have been easy to forget Pat Light’s brief, lamentable Twins tenure.
But a just-released report from ESPN’s Howard Bryant thrust Pat Light’s time as a Twin unexpectedly back into the spotlight.
As part of its initiative to improve pace-of-game play, Major League Baseball has approved a change to the intentional walk rule, going from the traditional four-pitch walk to a dugout signal, team and union sources told ESPN's Howard Bryant.
OK, seems logical enough, though it will only save something like one minute every 2.6 games. But let’s hear more of MLB’s rationale.
Getting rid of the old-fashioned intentional walk would eliminate about a minute of dead time per walk. In an age in which intentional walks actually have been declining -- there were just 932 all last season (or one every 2.6 games) -- that time savings would be minimal. But MLB saw the practice of lobbing four meaningless pitches as antiquated.
Meaningless, you say? MEANGINGLESS?! Pat Light will show you just how meaningful a potential intentional walk pitch can be, thank you very much.
Behold, former Twins reliever Pat Light rainbowing a wild pitch over Juan Centeno’s head in the top of the ninth inning in the first half of a doubleheader against the Tigers on September 22nd, 2016 (the one no one showed up to watch). The wild pitch scored Justin Upton, the first of six ninth-inning runs in the ugliest Twins inning in recent memory. I remember watching it, surrounded by other Twins fans, and feeling legitimately embarrassed to even be caring about a team that would throw Pat Dean, Alex Wimmers, Buddy Boshers, Pat Light and Michael Tonkin in one game.
And then to have the temerity to play a second game. Just call off the doubleheader at that point.
Here’s the play-by-play of that ninth inning. Just staring at it will bring the fateful day back and, God forbid, if you were actually there, it’s gonna be downright PTSD-inducing.
Pat Light got one out; it was on a James McCann sacrifice bunt. He walked two unintentionally, another intentionally, but even the unintentional creeped into the intentional with that parabola he launched over Suzuki’s outstretched glove.
The Twins’ 2016 season featured very few record-setting moments, but if Howard Bryant’s MLB sources are accurate, Pat Light may have given the Twins a true record-setting moment from 2016: The last wild pitch on an intentional walk in MLB history.
Once more with feeling, Patrick!
UPDATE: Pat Light has weighed in with his opinions on MLB’s possible new rule change.
Now I like Pat Light! Bring Back Pat Light!