A PITCHING RENAISSANCE and FAREWELL MR. COX
- Updated: October 13, 2010
Pitching has taken over. Who can dispute this after watching pitchers dominate in the playoffs so far? There may be some sort of record set for fewest runs scored after the Giants/Phillies series.
Some fans, those who want to see the ball being bashed around like a Superball, will denounce this as boring. Others, like yours truly, relish this trend. Any hardcore fan loves to see Roy Halladay befuddle Reds batters. The tension mounts as the game gets later and later. Now it’s the 7th, nothing. The 8th, still nothing. In the 9th you’re on the edge of your seat. When it gets to the last out, the suspense is almost overpowering. You leap from your chair. You DVR the 9th inning. You yell and cheer like you’re actually there. Anyone who says this is boring hasn’t witnessed the painful snoozer that is soccer.
I’ll take the four one run games that decided the Braves/Giants series anytime. It’s more captivating when the score is 2-1 than 7-5.
What has caused this sudden shift of dominance? There are many reasons being tossed around. Pitchers are in better shape. The new ballparks. An expanding strike zone. None of which are credible or can be proven. The only logical reason is rarely discussed. No longer are pitchers facing hitters who look like The Incredible Hulk. Now that periodic drug testing has been implemented, it’s a level “playing field”.
So just how good was the pitching this year? Not as good as it would seem. On the one hand, league cumulative ERA (AL – 4.42, NL – 4.35) was the lowest since 1992, but it still pales to the real year of the pitcher – 1968 when the AL ERA was 2.98 and the NL 2.99
This year, Josh Johnson led the NL with a 2.30 while the AL leader was Felix Hernandez at 2.23. In 1968 , Bob Gibson led the NL with a 1.12 ERA, second only to Mordecai Brown’s 1.04 in 1906. Luis Tiant of the Indians checked in at 1.60 which only ranks 13th since 1900 but has not been surpassed since then – 42 years and counting. Pitching was so dominant that the next year the mound was lowered. Oh yes, Denny McLain of the Tigers also won 31 games.
It’s good to see more of a semblance of balance and I look forward to watching some more great pitching the rest of the playoffs.
FAREWELL MR. COX
Has there ever been a more admired manager than Bobby Cox? As disappointing as it was to go out in the NLDS nothing will tarnish this man’s legacy. For 21 years he managed hundreds of players to an incredible 14 straight division titles. Sure he was tossed more than any other manager, but his players will tell you that time and again it was to protect them. He was his players’ biggest booster so long as they played the “Braves way”. If not, well, ask Yunel Escobar what happens.
While he was honored in every city the Braves visited (except Florida, but you’d expect nothing different from the farcical Jeffrey Loria), the grandest tribute was last night when the Giants’ players halted their celebration long enough to pay tribute to Cox when he appeared one last tie on the field despite the fact that Edgar Renteria was the only Giant to have played for him.
McGraw, McCarthy, Mack, Huggins, Martin, Weaver, Alston and now Cox, who joins an elite group of revered managers who have stood the test of time. Next stop: Cooperstown.