stm4e (stm4e) wrote,

Baseball from another time

My parents have the MLB network, and one of the cool things about it is that they show "classic" old games. It's cool to see the players play so differently- choking up on the bat, not wandering away from the plate for 5 minutes between pitches, pitchers going longer into games.

Tonight's game was game one of the 1970 World Series (Orioles vs Reds), and the way the pitchers were used was really interesting. The Orioles were up 4-3 in the top of the ninth, and Jim Palmer, the starting pitcher, was up to bat. I don't know how many pitches he threw, but he only had one strikeout, and had let up 3 runs. In today's game, he'd probably be long gone. Anyway, the Orioles had runners on first and second with 2 outs, and Palmer was due to bat. I figured this was a no-brainer pinch-hitting opportunity. But they let Palmer bat! And the announcers didn't seem like it was a big deal! I guess the assumption in those days was that a pitcher would throw a complete game unless there was a real reason not to.

It didn't end up mattering- Palmer grounded out, and then got 2 outs in the ninth, walked the third batter (Pete Rose), and got taken out with 2 outs in the ninth. The relief pitcher got the last out and finished the game.

Nowadays, with teams having defined "closers", managers would be falling over themselves to have the reliever start the ninth inning- and complete games are few and far between. Contrast that to 1970, when Palmer had complete games in 17 of his 39 starts.

Sometimes, I wonder if we are a little too scared with pitchers (I'm especially thinking of the way we handle young pitchers- stuff like the "Joba Rules"), and don't train them to go deep in games. Since middle relief is such a weak point for so many teams, you'd think that some small-market team could try something different and train starting pitchers to go deeper into games, and have one less hole to cover.

Or maybe I'm just getting crotchety in my old age. Though I can't say "In my day" about 1970, since I wasn't born yet :)
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