It was 25 years ago today that Sports Illustrated fooled its readers with the unbelievable story of Sidd Finch, a raw baseball talent who, according to the magazine, wowed the New York Mets with his 168-mph fastball. It was published on April 1, 1985, before I was born, but it lives forever in the SI online vault.
The article, written by one of the all-time great journalists, George Plimpton, is incredibly entertaining. Had I been born 15 or 20 years earlier and therefore been old enough to read the story when it originally ran, I’d like to think I wouldn’t have been fooled. But apparently everyone was fooled. The article had pictures and everything.
I thought about writing my own April Fools Day article, but you’ve got to get really, really creative in the Internet age if you want to actually trick people. You think Sidd’s story would have been believed by anyone today? Google is great, but it makes it harder to lie.
When re-reading the Sidd Finch story this morning, I also thought about what would happen if it were true — if my beloved Mets really did acquire an unhittable machine like Finch. Sadly, I came to the conclusion that if Sidd Finch appeared in the Mets spring training facility in 2010, these are the most likely scenarios:
- He’d be traded. What, you think this is out of the question? This is the organization that dealt flamethrower Nolan Ryan.
- He’d be moved to the bullpen. Despite showing no signs of arm fatigue, the Mets would probably consider turning Finch into a reliever. And as a Mets reliever, by definition, he would pitch poorly.
- He’d get injured. This is the most likely of the scenarios. Finch would either actually sustain an injury, somehow, or he’d be misdiagnosed by the Mets medical staff. He’d be sent to a shoulder specialist who would find something wrong with his knee, and he’d recommend a few days of rest. A week later, the Mets would put Finch on the DL. Two weeks after that, after cross-country trips to visit with 12 different specialists, Finch’s condition would worsen, until he was declared out for the season. Of course, he’d delay his surgery until it interfered with the next season.
Yes, these are the things Mets fans think about these days. It’s probably a good thing Sidd Finch isn’t real. Happy April Fools day!