Tag: Tom Seaver

Should Greg Maddux Break Tom Seaver’s Hall of Fame Voting Record?

When somebody finally goes into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a unanimous selection, the sport will have a new unbreakable record to put next the nine-pitch, three-strikeout inning.

Until then, the score to beat is the 98.84 percent of the vote that Tom Seaver got in 1992. If ever there was a guy to beat it, hey, how about Greg Maddux in his first year on the ballot?

Three things: A) He actually has a shot, B) He darn well should have a chance and C) Alas, he probably won’t.

First things first. Point A isn’t some wild guess. It’s actually true, and we know it thanks to Baseball Think Factory.

All of the votes are in at this point, and we won’t know the whole story until January 8. But BBTF has scanned the 107 Hall of Fame ballots that have been made public, and all of them have Maddux listed. He’s on pace to not only beat Seaver’s record, but to be the first unanimous Hall of Famer.

Now, these 107 ballots hardly account for the bulk of the total number of ballots. Per Baseball-Reference.com, there were 569 ballots cast in 2013. The ones we’ve seen so far make up less than 20 percent of that total, and it’s possible that more ballots will be cast this year.

Even still, what’s out there now at least serves as confirmation of something all of us saw coming: that the voters were really going to like Maddux this year. And rightfully so. What counts the most when it comes to Cooperstown is a player’s career performance, and there’s no arguing that Maddux didn’t have one of the great careers in pitching history.

Behold an obligatory glance at some of the crafty right-hander’s career numbers and where they rank, with data courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs:

Note: For rate stats like ERA and ERA+, a baseline of 3,000 innings pitched was set.

Maddux doesn’t rate as one of the all-time greats across the board. But regardless of which camp a voter is coming from, all-time greatness is rarely this clear.

Old-school-minded voters can gravitate toward Maddux’s 355 wins and heavy workload. New-school-minded voters will see him as a top-10 all-time pitcher based on ERA+ and both of the major WAR calculations. 

To boot, there’s how Maddux compares to Tom Terrific. Stack the two pitchers up against one another, and it’s clear that it wouldn’t be a tragedy if he got a higher percent of the vote than Seaver did:

This is actually a really good comparison, but there are reasons for both the old guard and the new guard to gravitate toward Maddux. For the old, he won a lot more games and pitched a lot more innings than Seaver. For the new, Seaver’s advantage in rWAR is balanced out by Maddux’s advantage in ERA+ and fWAR.

Maddux also won four Cy Youngs to Seaver’s three. He led the league in ERA four times to Seaver’s three and in ERA+ five times to Seaver’s three. Both only won one World Series, but Maddux pitched to a 2.09 ERA in three World Series. Seaver pitched to a 2.70 ERA in two World Series.

So all-time great pitcher? Check.

Arguably better than the pitcher with the all-time highest Hall of Fame voting percentage? Check.

In these two reasons alone, voters have enough incentive to make Maddux the new Hall of Fame vote king.

But we haven’t even gotten to the other big thing he has working for him: He’s the ultimate anti-Steroid Era Cooperstown candidate.

Think back to the year 1993. That was the year that scoring suddenly skyrocketed across MLB, and starting pitchers were not spared. Per FanGraphs, the average ERA for starters ballooned from 3.85 in 1992 to 4.26 in ’93 and stayed safely above 4.00 for many years.

Maddux, however, was not affected. He was already established as an elite pitcher by the time ’93 rolled around, and he maintained that status through the next decade.

To illustrate the point, here’s this:

Maddux’s ERA+ in this span was 171. For some perspective, Seaver’s ERA+ during his best 10-year stretch from 1968 to 1977 was 144.

For further perspective, here’s where Maddux checked in among his peers in that 1993-2002 window:

Note: Here, the baseline for the rate stats was set at 1,000 innings pitched. 

Maddux’s only real peers in this span were Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. And while they were obviously exceptional, neither worked as many innings as Maddux did.

Also, neither carved through the Steroid Era quite like Maddux did.

I’ll clarify in BIG BOLD LETTERS that I’m not implicating Martinez or the Big Unit of wrongdoing, but they did fight fire with fire during the Steroid Era. Both spent the bulk of the era blowing hitters away. In the face of unprecedented power hitting, their power pitching often won the day.

That wasn’t the case with Maddux. He sat in the high-80s on a good day, favoring ground balls over strikeouts and getting plenty of them thanks to location, movement and an uncanny ability to always be one step ahead of the opposition. 

At a time when the league was characterized by brawn, Maddux used his brain to get by. It’s that and the numbers that make him the ultimate anti-Steroid Era Hall of Fame candidate.

That takes care of one half of the Hall of Fame voting guidelines, and there’s not much to be said about the other half: the “integrity, sportsmanship, character” part that essentially asks if a player was a decent guy.

We can make this simple. ESPN.com’s Gene Wojciechowski wrote a column after Maddux retired in 2008 that chided the hurler for never being greedy, brash, intimidating, quotable, controversial, narcissistic or flashy enough.

That seems to sum him up quite well. All Maddux ever did was pitch.

So then, let’s recap. What we’ve established is that Maddux is a clear all-time great, arguably better than the man with the all-time highest voting percentage, a man who conquered an era of strength using smarts and a decent guy on the side.

Sounds like a guy with a reasonable shot at being the first unanimous selection or, at the least, one with a chance at topping Seaver’s record. There are no rational reasons to deny Maddux either honor.

But there’s the bad news: The Hall of Fame voting doesn’t necessarily run according to rational reasoning. It’s influenced just as much by…well, other forces.

Take, for example, why Seaver didn’t get 100 percent of the vote in 1992. According to The New York Times:

Three [voters] mailed in a blank ballot, protesting the Hall of Fame’s edict that anybody on baseball’s ineligible list, meaning Pete Rose, is ineligible for consideration. One of the five doesn’t vote for first-year eligibles. One confessed to overlooking Seaver shortly after open-heart surgery.

We’ll give the guy who overlooked Seaver a pass. He had a pretty good excuse. As for the other four, however, all you can say is this: typical.

According to MLB.com, five voters turned in blank ballots last year. One of them, Mark Faller of the Arizona Republic, wrote that he was too angry to vote for anyone. Another, Howard Bryant of ESPN.com, cited an “inability to reach a comfortable verdict on a colossal mess.”

So yeah, blank ballots happen. And when they happen, they happen for silly reasons. When it happens again this year, it won’t make any sense. 

Then there are those who just don’t vote for first-time players out of some sort of twisted principle. There was only one of those guys in 1992. There are probably more now. Call it a hunch.

Then there are those who might take the Game Theory route, a possibility that SI.com’s Jay Jaffe raised in a recent Hall of Fame column. Some voters may figure Maddux is getting in regardless and choose to leave him off their ballots so they can slip a less obvious Cooperstown candidate a vote.

We could go on and on about the various reasons voters have for not voting for deserving Hall of Famers, but we don’t need to. It’s a depressing topic to get into, for one. For two, the point has been made: There are voters who are just as likely to not vote for Maddux as they are to vote for him.

By all rights, Maddux should be the guy to break Seaver’s voting record. He has the goods of a guy who deserves to do so.

But he won’t. When it comes to the Hall of Fame voting, what should happen and what does happen are never the same.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted/linked. 


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New York Mets: Pitchers Who Have Come Closest to the Team’s First No-Hitter

The Mets reached a dubious milestone on Friday night against the Miami Marlins. A first-inning triple by Jose Reyes thwarted the possibility of a no-hitter for the 8,000th time in Mets history.

The no no-no’s streak is surprising not just for its 50-year span. The Mets have had any number of pitchers capable of blanking an opponent for nine innings.

In fact, seven pitchers have thrown no-hitters after leaving the Mets, according to NoNoHitters.com, a website that keeps a running update of the Mets’ futility. Another 10 came to the Mets with no-hitters under their belts.

Nolan Ryan, of course, posted seven no-hitters in his post-Mets career. Tom Seaver threw one for the Cincinnati Reds in 1978, the season following his departure from New York. Dwight Gooden and David Cone added further insult by pitching no-hitters for the Yankees.

Hideo Nomo and Mike Scott also chalked up no-hitters after leaving the Mets. The most recent Mets alum on the list is Philip Humber, who pitched the 21st perfect game in major league history for the Chicago White Sox last month.

The Mets have come close to breaking into the no-hit club. There have been 35 one-hitters in team history. In some of them, an early inning hit was followed by pitching perfection.

Many others were denied in the late innings. Here are six that were stopped in the eighth and ninth innings.

Begin Slideshow

Phillies Ace Roy Halladay Is No Tom Seaver

Roy Halladay ranks among the best pitchers in the game today. He pitched a perfect game during the 2010 regular season and followed that with a no-hitter in the playoffs. But just how good is Halladay compared to some of the “recent” greats?

Following the 1969 season in which New York’s most beloved team, the New York Mets, pulled off one of the greatest surprises in sports history, Tom Seaver was considered baseball’s premier pitcher. He was even better than even the great Bob Gibson or the equally outstanding Juan Marichal.

Seaver was 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA in 1969. He joined the Mets 1967, won 16 games and was the Rookie of the Year. Seaver’s last season as a great pitcher was probably the strike-shortened season of 1981, when he was 14-2 with a 2.54 ERA.

The following represents a typical Seaver season from 1967-81:

17 10 2.60 33 253 205 72 136 1.079

Roy Halladay became Roy Halladay when he returned from the minors in 2001. From 2001-10, Halladay has the following statistics:

16 7 3.05 29 207 158 36 147 1.122

The numbers are extremely close. Seaver averaged one more win a season than Halladay, but he averaged three more losses.

Seaver has a big edge in ERA, but Halladay had to face teams with the designated hitter when he was in the American League. Halladay actually has a better ERA.

In 1967 and 1968, Seaver pitched off mounds that were 15 inches high, which was an advantage never enjoyed by Halladay.

Seaver started more games, worked more innings and struck out many more hitters than Halladay. There were fewer league strikeouts during Seaver’s career, which makes his edge even more impressive. Of course, National League pitchers had to hit against Seaver, which helped his strikeout totals.

Seaver walked almost twice as many in a typical season as did Halladay, but he worked more innings. Seaver allowed about 2.6 walks per nine innings, while Halladay allowed only 1.6 walks per nine innings.

Finally, Seaver’s 1.079 WHIP ranks among the lowest in history. For his entire career, the greatest pitcher in Mets’ history had a 1.21 WHIP, compared to Halladay’s 1.81.

Both were workhorses. The only reason Halladay has relatively few complete games is that games are turned over to closers today. If he pitched today, the same idiotic approach would be used with Seaver.

The statistics of each are so close that it is impossible to prove which pitcher was better. Both rank among the best of all time and possibly the best of his era.

I saw most of Seaver’s games until he was sent to Cincinnati. I have seen almost as many of Halladay’s games thanks to modern means of watching baseball.

It is a judgment call. The pick here is Seaver over Halladay.


Baseball Reference

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New York Mets: It’s Time To Honor The 1986 Team Properly

This is a special season for the New York Mets franchise.

It was 25 years ago this October that they last won the World Series. Since that time, fans have endured too many hardships to review here.

There has also been too many media reflections on the ’86 Mets and their spectacular run that season.

One of my personal favorites is “The Bad Guys Won” by Jeff Pearlman, but there are many, many other great publications to celebrate their feat.

The Mets, however, have not properly celebrated that team.

Sure, they brought a few players around when they closed out Shea Stadium. They also have utilized the services of several of the players. We’ve seen the organization parade that team in various coaching capacities and pep talks in Port St. Lucie. They even have a few key players from that team in the booth.

Last season, the team heard the outcry of the fanbase and created a Mets Museum. Several of the great Mets from that era have their faces engraved on a plaque there.

All of that is well and good, but there is one major honor that the team has not offered to its most cherished athletes.

That honor is retiring a jersey number.

How many times do Mets fans and media members see the numbers 16, 17 and 18, and manage to think of Paul LoDuca (No. 16 from 2006-2007), Fernando Tatis (No. 17 from 2008-2010) and Moises Alou (No. 18 from 2007-2008)?

The answer is never.

They think of three Mets greats: Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry.

It is time to show the respect that is due to these greats by giving them the greatest honor a sports franchise can give—it is time to retire these three numbers.

Here’s a few reasons why for each of them.

First: Dwight Gooden.

He is third all time among Mets pitchers for starts (303, behind Seaver and Koosman), his 157 wins as a Met rank him second behind Tom Seaver and he has amassed 1,875 strikeouts.

That is also good enough to be ranked second, again, behind Seaver.


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Top Five Worst New York Mets Trades

If you’re a Mets fan, you are familiar with heartache. The very term “Mets fan” is synonymous with pain. This trade deadline has brought us too many moments of agony to rehash, but there are several that stick out in the collective memory of the fan of the Mets. These trades are the lemon juice in a cut type of transaction. They were the ones that really stung.

In the spirit of the MLB trade deadline winding down tomorrow at 4pm, I decided to take a look back at some of the worst mistakes the Mets have made in the trade market. It is not a fun task to undertake, but it is a necessary one. How else can we learn for our future if we do not examine the mistakes of the past?

Warning: to read this list, it takes a real fan, one that has courage and can remain realistic. This is not for the faint of heart. If you have heart trouble, please consult with a physician before reading this list, as the results of it may very well cause a stroke. It almost caused me one just compiling it.

5. Oliver Perez-

It’s been just about four years since Duaner Sanchez had that taxi cab accident. The ripples of that incident are still felt to this day in the Mets fan base. Why? The Mets acquired two pitchers on July 31st of that 2006 season. One was Roberto Hernandez and the other was the infamous and often documented Oliver Perez. What did they give up for them? Xavier Nady.

Okay, not a tremendous loss, but consider this: last season, the Mets and their fans were discussing the need for an outfielder that has power, so they go out and spend big money on Jason Bay. Bay still hasn’t “adjusted,” so they still need a power hitter in the outfield. Nady had two seasons of 20 and 25 home runs respectively during the time we’ve watched Oliver Perez struggle game after game.

Nady was hurt for a majority of last season and is struggling this season, but during the first few seasons after that trade, the Mets could have used him. Not to mention, the cut ties with Roberto Hernandez after that season. He did a solid job for them in ’05 and that part of ’06. They have had bullpen issues every season since. Then they cut ties with Sanchez eventually anyway. So the only remnants that remain from that day and that accident are Oliver Perez and his multiple seasons of an ERA over 6.00.

4. Scott Kazmir

I remember this day like it was yesterday. Most older fans will say that a little later on too. But for now, allow me to set this situation up for you. Two seasons before that taxi cab accident that eventually brought us Ollie, there was another accident of sorts. An accident of impulse. On July 31, 2004, the New York Mets traded their highest scouted prospect, Scott Kazmir to the Tampa Bay (then Devil) Rays for Victor Zambrano. Not Carlos Zambrano, but Victor. Why? Because he had mild success against the Yankees.

Many fans have held this move much higher than # 4 for years, but looking at the overall numbers, it belongs here. The main problem is the word “potential.” Kazmir was exuding potential. Everyone deemed him the “next” Roger Clemens, only without the juice. He is a big lefty that throws hard. He wowed all of the scouts and opponents as well.

After the trade, he was a big part of helping Tampa Bay get to the World Series in ’08, helping many Mets fans cringe, though the Phillies won it, causing the fans here to cringe even more. Kazmir has been often injured and often struggling. He is not the pitcher that everyone has envisioned with a career 4.12 ERA. He is not the unhittable, but he is younger than Oliver Perez.

So, therefore, conventional wisdom would suggest that he could still turn it around with the right pitching coach. Though I am not so sure the Mets have that right now. What really made this so bad, was that Zambrano was often injured in his time with the Mets and sported a 4.45 ERA. You compare the numbers. I’d still take Kazmir.

3. Lenny Dykstra

The day that Lenny Dykstra was traded was a terrible day in the Mets franchise history. No one seems to mention this trade, but it was awful. Lenny Dykstra AND Roger McDowell (the inventor of the hot foot) both were traded to a division rival, the Phillies. In June of 1989, the Mets moved two of their most beloved heroes of the ’86 Championship team and Dykstra eventually helped bring the Phillies to the World Series in ’93 while endearing himself to their fan base as he did with ours.

McDowell went on to Los Angeles eventually and continued success for several more seasons. What did the Mets get in return? Juan Samuel. The same Juan Samuel who sported a .228 AVG and was traded away just a few months later. So the Mets received nothing for these two warriors, Dykstra and McDowell, and they went on to help other teams to success. Another great front office move.

2. Nolan Ryan-

The name is equivalent to greatness and perfection. He was unarguably the greatest pitcher to ever pitch and he was a Mets player for a few short years of their early existence. On December 10, 1971, he was traded with a few other inconsequential players for Jum Fregosi. Who? The guy who managed in Philly and Toronto? Yeah, that guy. The guy who had a career AVG of .233 and only played 146 games with the Mets before being sold, not traded, to Texas? Yes, that Jim Fregosi.

So we received a forgettable player, who’s only real accomplishment was being an average manager, in exchange for the greatest pitcher of all-time. Don’t believe me, the numbers speak volumes, 5,714 strikeouts and 7 no hitters, the Mets still have none and he leads MLB history in both of those while being a Hall of Fame inductee since ’99. The Mets certainly pulled the trigger there, didn’t they?

1. Two words: “The franchise”. Tom “Terrific” Seaver

He was simply put, the greatest Mets pitcher in the history of the team. Then, they traded him due to a dispute with management. That day is still referred to as the “midnight massacre”. It occurred on June, 15th 1977. The same day, the Mets traded Dave “King Kong” Kingman to San Diego.

As for Seaver, he posted a 2.57 ERA with the Mets in 12 seasons that included an attempt at making peace with them in ’83. He had 2,541 total strikeouts and 198 wins with the team. He, too, is a Hall of Fame member as of ’92. He led the Mets to glory and unexpected, miraculous success in both ’69 and ’73. He was the captain and leader of the Mets for more than a decade. After leaving the Mets, he, too, had a no hit game. He was a legend that deserved better from this team.

Perhaps the lack of perfect games or no hitters from this franchise is actually just the baseball gods getting them back for trading away so many legends. The old saying goes, the baseball gods giveth and they taketh away. In a more realistic way, the baseball gods giveth and the Mets front office taketh away.

Let’s hope that they do something this season to turn that around on this trade deadline. But knowing the history, they probably will not. In fact, all we really can hope for is that they don’t mess up too badly and trade away another future hall of fame inductee or world series winner.


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MLB Pitch Counts: Jerry Koosman, Tom Seaver, and Nolan Ryan

On July 6, 1971, New York’s most beloved franchise, the New York Mets, announced that ace left-hander Jerry Koosman was being placed on the 21-day disabled list.

Koosman started against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium, but was forced to leave following only one inning of work. After the game, Mets’ manager Gil Hodges said Jerry had developed tightness in his left side.

A team spokesman told reporters, “They don’t know what it is. It could be his shoulder or his back or a virus. They don’t know what.”

In early August, Koosman threw 174 pitches in a special drill in Atlanta Stadium, where the Mets were playing the Braves. Jerry threw early batting practice to Tim Foli, Ken Singleton, Duffy Dyer, and Don Hahn.

Gil Hodges and Joe Pignatano were pleased with the performance, after which Hodges announced that Koosman would soon return. On August 9th, the lefty was reactivated as the Mets continued their pursuit of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In his first start after coming off the disabled list, Mets’ pitching coach Rube Walker lowered Koosman’s pitch count to 80 pitches, or a little more than one-half Koosman’s regular limit.

Yes, Rube Walker, Gil Hodges, and the New York Mets put Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Nolan Ryan on pitch counts.

Seaver’s limit was 135 pitches, Koosman’s was 145 pitches, and Ryan’s was 150.

“We did have pitch counts,” Seaver said. “They weren’t mandated. Mine was 135 and I knew it, and Rube knew it. And when I got to Chicago, I told [pitching coach Dave Duncan], ‘I’m at 135.'”

Seaver and Ryan recognize that today’s teams invest heavily in “role pitchers.” If a team is paying a closer $10 million, the front office is going make sure that their manager uses him.

“There are always individuals who want to [pitch deeper in games], but aren’t allowed because of the economic ramifications of a guy blowing out his shoulder,” Seaver said. “And sometimes decisions are mandated from above.

“I want a manager who’ll go to the mound and say, ‘Kid, you’re throwing great. Go get ’em, and I’m not coming back.’ I want to see that, but you’ll never see that.”

With the passage of time, the number of teams limiting pitchers to a specific number of pitches increased, until we have today’s situation.

Contending teams remove effective pitchers from the rotation in August or September because they have pitched an artificially created number of innings. The New York Yankees, New York’s second team, did it with Joba Chamberlain, and have announced that they going to do it with Phil Hughes.

Sometimes, limiting a young pitcher’s innings is justified, but not always. Seaver has hit the nail on the head. Teams must distinguish between pitchers who can handle the load from those who cannot.

“I think they indoctrinate the younger pitchers who are coming along, and they don’t identify the foxhole guys,” Seaver said. “Some guys are 110-pitch guys, and some guys are 135-, 145-pitch guys. Not everybody is cut from the same cloth.”


By MURRAY CHASS. (1971, July 7). Mets Lose, Trail by 5 1/2 Games; :Expos Win, 5-1 — Koosman Is on Disabled List. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 43. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2006). (Document ID: 79675448).

By JOSEPH DURSO Special to The New York Times . (1971, August 6). Mets Lose, 2-1, in 17th :6 Braves’ Double Plays, Hit by Evans Beat Mets.. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 21. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2006). (Document ID: 79146924).

Koosman Reactivated. (1971, August 10). New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 26. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2006). (Document ID: 79684964).

Pitch Counts Encourage Mediocrity

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All-Star Pitchers: Never on Sunday or Where is Tom Seaver?

There was a time when baseball players didn’t have to be extrinsically motivated to try to win the all-star game. The incentive was to win for the pride of the league without hurting your team.

Tom Seaver started the 1970 All-Star game. Two events occurred then that could never occur today.

New York’s most beloved team, at least after the Brooklyn Dodgers ceased to exist, was playing the Montreal Expos, a team that no longer exists, at Shea Stadium, a ballpark that no longer exists.

It was Sunday, July 12. The All-Star game would be played on Tuesday.

The score was 3-3 in the ninth inning when Montreal rallied for two runs off Mets starter Ray Sadecki after Sadecki had retired the first two batters.

With Rusty Staub on first, manager Gil Hodges had enough. He brought in Tom Seaver to end the inning, which he did.

The Mets were down by two runs, but Hodges had enough confidence in his challenged offense or sufficient disrespect for the Expos’ pitching that he was willing to use his ace to maintain a two-run deficit.

Two days later, on Tuesday, July 14 at River Front Stadium in Cincinnati, Gil Hodges, the National League all-star manager, gave the baseball to Tom Seaver.

The greatest pitcher in the history of New York baseball pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one hit, no walks, and striking out four batters. Guess the relief appearance on Sunday didn’t affect Seaver.

The game was still scoreless when Gaylord Perry took the mound for the National League in the sixth inning.

Perry had started for the San Francisco Giants the Sunday before the all-star game. The Houston Astros had blasted Perry for five runs and 11 hits in his five innings of work.

Perry worked two innings and was touched up for two runs and four hits.

With the game tied 4-4 after nine innings, Hodges brought in Dodgers’ lefty Claude Osteen, who had pitched eight innings on the Saturday before the All-Star game, which meant that Osteen came in on two days’ rest.

Osteen was 5’11” and weighed a “hefty” 160 pounds.

Neither team scored until the bottom of the 12th inning, when Jim Hickman singled to left, driving in Pete Rose from second base and ruining Ray Fosse’s promising career.

Osteen worked three innings to get the win. Not exactly the “Joba rules.”

American League manager Earl Weaver’s use of pitchers was no different from that of Hodges.

In the fourth inning, “Sudden” Sam McDowell, who had pitched a complete game on Saturday, came in for Jim Palmer. Sam worked three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and three walks.

It gets better.

Jim “Catfish” Hunter, who pitched eight innings on Sunday, started the ninth inning for the Junior Circuit. Clarence “Cito” Gaston was the only batter Hunter retired as the National League rallied for three runs to tie the game.

The losing pitcher was Jaret Wright’s daddy, Clyde, who had started on Saturday against the Minnesota Twins.

Yes, there was a time when the rule that limited pitchers to a maximum of three innings was necessary.

Yes, there was a time when managers didn’t have to worry if using a pitcher who was an All-Star would negatively affect his league’s chances of winning.

Yes, there was a time when real baseball games were played and pitchers did what they do best.

They pitched.


1970 All Star Game at Retrosheet

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Tom Seaver: The Best Pitcher Nobody Ever Talks About

On this day 23 years ago, one of the greatest players in baseball history hung up his cleats one final time, announcing to the world that he had no more competitive pitches left in his arm.

Despite being a near unanimous first-choice Hall of Fame inductee and one of the all-time greats, Tom Seaver does not get the recognition he deserves.

His 311 wins only barely gets him a spot in the top 20 list of career victories and his total of 3,640 strikeouts is topped by five other pitchers, including one who has 2,000 more Ks to his name.

Six more Hall of Famers have more than Seaver’s 61 shutouts, and his career 2.86 ERA is a full run higher than that of other pitchers who had a distinguished career. With only one World Series ring and just a lone no-hitter to his name, many overlook Seaver when they are talking about the best in the business.

But today, June 22, it’s time to remember Seaver’s career for the wonderful things he achieved.

Tom Terrific is not mentioned as often as it should be when people discuss the greatest pitchers of all time. People rightfully list guys like Cy Young, Nolan Ryan, Walter Johnson, and Lefty Grove, but in my opinion, Seaver should be ranked right up there with the all-time greats.

You could go as far as saying that Seaver was the best pitcher that nobody ever talks about.

Seaver, a 12-time All-Star, holds a special place in my heart because I’m a Mets fan. But this is more than homer pick. He was, and still is, the greatest player in Mets history, he is the only player to have his number retired by the club, and he is the only player in Cooperstown wearing a Mets hat.

He doesn’t have 500 wins or 5,700 strikeouts, but that’s okay, because I’m not trying to compare him with Young or Ryan. But when Pedro Martinez and Sandy Kofax are getting more love than Seaver, you know something is wrong. All of Seaver’s stats are fantastic on their own, but he is often overlooked because he doesn’t have that one eye-pooping number, like Ryan’s seven no-hitters or Roger Clemens’ seven Cy Young trophies.

Being No. 1 in any significant category would catapult him to the forefront of many people’s minds. But if you look at what he accomplished it’s hard to overlook him.

He had a sparkling 2.57 ERA during his 12 seasons with the Mets and a 2.86 ERA over his 20 seasons in the Majors. He led the league in ERA and wins three times and he struck out more than 200 batters in nine consecutive years. He also picked up three Cy Young awards in 1969, ’73, and ’75, and there is an argument to be made that he could have had several more, especially in 1971 which was widely regarded as his best ever season.

On top of those figures, he also threw double-digit complete games in his first 11 seasons in the league (231 in his career) and he was responsible for guiding the Mets to their first ever championship after years of mediocrity.

From the day he made his debut—as a 22-year-old back on April 13 1967—he immediately made the team around him better. He struck out eight Pirates in his debut, threw a 10-inning complete game in his third ever start, and he was well on his way to greatness.

The Mets had finished last in five of their first seven seasons as a new franchise before Seaver arrived (they finished one from bottom in the other two years), and the closest the team had come to a winning record was in 1966 when they finished 29 games below .500.

Seaver’s 16 victories for the second straight year helped the Mets to 73 wins—then a franchise high—but he really took it to the next level in ’69, going 25-7 with five shutouts and guiding the Mets to their first ever 100-win season and, of course, the Mets first championship.

Among his career games were five one-hitters for the Mets and a no-hitter for the Reds. To this day, the Mets have still not had a no hitter.

Seaver threw a one-hitters in four straight seasons between 1969 and 1972 and another one in 1977. When he one-hit the Cubs in ’77 it was his fifth and the Mets 12th ever. But it was his first one-hitter that fans will remember most.

It had been more than seven years since a Mets pitcher had recorded the club’s last one-hitter, but Seaver almost went one better, retiring the first 25 batters in a game against the Cubbies until scrub hitter Jimmy Qualls ripped a one-out single in the top of the ninth inning, costing Seaver not only the no-no but also the perfect game.

The following year, Seaver made history again, this time by striking out 10 batters in a row to end a 2-1 win over the Padres at Shea Stadium. What made the game even more spectacular was that he tied a then-record with 19 strikeouts. Yes, Kerry Wood, Clemens and Randy Johnson would go on to break it many years later, but this was a record that stood for the better part of three decades.

Among that time, he was unceremoniously traded to the Cincinnati Reds, back to the Mets, and on to the Chicago Cubs—where he picked up his 300th win—before finishing his remarkable 20-year career with the Boston Red Sox.

He won 75 games in five-and-a-half years in Ohio, including going 14-2 as a 36-year-old in 1981, but he was less than perfect in his return to Shea Stadium where he failed to win 10 games for the second year in a row.

Turning back the clocks, Seaver went on to win 31 games in his next two years in Chicago, and after a trade to Boston in ’86, he came back to pitch in the Mets organization in 1987. While he never hit the heights he achieved earlier in his career at Shea, it was fitting that he ended his career where it began.

One great quote that I have read about Seaver comes from Sparky Anderson, who said, “My idea of managing is giving the ball to Tom Seaver and sitting down and watching him work.”

And who can disagree? He was the face of National League baseball throughout the ‘70s, and he was admired by fans, teammates, and journalists alike. When his name came up on the Hall of Fame ballot in 1992, he polled 98.8 percent of the votes. That is 425 out of 430 ballots for those trying to work out the math. Of the other five, legend has it that at least three of those ballot slips were empty.

That 98.8 mark is the highest ever—including Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ryan, and Cal Ripken—all considered to be among the greatest that ever lived.

So next time you’re considering the greatest pitchers of all time, don’t forget about Tom “Terrific” Seaver. Don’t let Seaver go as the best pitcher that nobody ever talks about. Ensure that he is talked about in the same breath as Ryan and Young.  It’s the least you could do for the man who captivated a whole generation with his brilliance.

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