August 5, 2009

Bill Conlin writes for the Philly Daily News and sent along these numbers under the heading of: “WHEN I’M KING of the World . . . Scouts, scribes, fans and baseball people of every level and description will be reminded that one remains the loneliest number . . . Every game starts and ends on one pitch thrown by one pitcher to one hitter. A No. 1 starting pitcher will get about 34 starts. Cliff Lee started 31 times for the Cleveland Indians last season. He was the pitcher of record in a remarkable 25 of them. His 22-3 record won him the American League Cy Young Award. One great pitcher for 31 games . . . That left 131 starts for the rest of the Indians’ pitching staff. That means in an 81-81 season, the rest of the pitchers won just 59 games. Blame mediocrity on the other “ones.” Roy Halladay, history’s most popular almost-Phil, was runner-up to Lee for the AL Cy. Roy started 33 games for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was 20-11, an even more amazing 31 decisions in his 33 starts. That’s almost a Robin Roberts Era stat. In 1956, Robby went 19-18, getting the decision in all 37 of his starts. (He also served a staggering 46 homers and gave up a prolific 328 hits in 297 1/3 innings pitched.) No wonder fans were hollering, “Get the married men off the field.” The point is, while it is always great to have an ace with Hall of Fame ability and records to match, teams that go deep into the postseason travel on the hopefully hard underbellies of the guys who follow the ace in the rotation. Even if Lee unfurls an 11-0 record for Charlie Manuel, the Phillies will be in dire straits if everybody else not named Joe Blanton pitches to his ERA. ”


The Sports Curmudgeon wants to shine a light on some of the media coverage of some events and wonder if there might be a bit of jingoistic hypocrisy going on. “Consider:A young basketball player comes up through the AAU and high school system and he is a very good player. Attached to him are coaches, street agents, and sometimes-parasitic parents. When that player and/or the people around him are exposed as making slimy deals, the US sports media tends to cluck about how improper it is and how poorly this reflects on all the individuals involved. A young baseball player in the Dominican Republic comes up through the sandlot programs there – and the word “sandlot” in the DR is a lot more literal than the word is here in the US – and he is a very good player. He is then signed to a deal that attaches him to a buscone who takes the kind under his wing and then represents the kid in a way that exploits the kid’s talent to the benefit of the buscone. The US media treats buscones as criminal and evil folks. How are they different from all the same kinds of folks who exist here in the US that exploit young athletes for their own benefit and not necessarily the benefit of the athlete?”


The Sports Curmudgeon also wrote about thinking of a Triple Crown Winner, saying: ”First of all, it has not been done in the National League since the 1930s; that was a long time ago, so this has to be a difficult thing to do. Granted it has been done in the AL as “recently” as 32 years ago. In the history of baseball, only about a dozen players have ever won the Triple Crown in MLB. That is how difficult it is to accomplish; the fact that Albert Pujols can be mentioned as late in the season as July with a shot at winning the Triple Crown speaks directly to his abilities. To put another bit of perspective on the Triple Crown in baseball, I said that only about a dozen players in the history of the game have ever won it. Some really great players have never won it. Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Stan Musial, Roberto Clemente, Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth never won it. Rogers Hornsby won it twice in the 1920s and Ted Williams won it twice in the 1940s. That is why I maintain that Ted Williams was the best hitter I ever saw in person. Yes, Rogers Hornsby played before I was born… “


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