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Chris Quinones

The sub announcer was Keith Hernandez. What gave you the idea it was a former pitcher?

J. Rosen

I seem to remember Pedro insisting on staying in in a playoff game against the Yankees and blowing a lead, leading to Aaron Boone's walkoff HR and another "wait till next year" season (Lightning did strike the next year.) There was a lot of discussion about whether the manager (Grady Little, who packed his bags shortly thereafter) had caved to PM and left him in too long, and I thought so, especially since IMHO Pedro was often not on his A-game in cold weather. So saying that when he wants to pitch, you let him, doesn't always apply.

He is still one of the great ones, however.

Lance

Chris,

Hernandez! Of course! I should have recognized his voice from Seinfeld. I was only listening with half an ear, but the reason I thought it was a pitcher was that at one point he discussed pitch selection in a way that sounded more like a pitcher' p.o.v. than a hitter's. Of course, Hernandez studied pitchers awful well, and he probably learned to think like one.

J.,

Isn't there still some controversy about that? Didn't Pedro say later he told Little he was out of gas. World Series games are different though. During the regular season I still think it's better than the star loses on his own than that bullpen blows it for him, that is only if he has his stuff. Last night it looked to me like Pedro still had his stuff.

Exiled in NJ

Frank Tanana, 1987, he and Doyle Alexander pitching the Tigers past the Jays into the AL playoffs. Was it the final day of the season when he and Jimmy Key pounded curveballs at the hitters until one shouted 'uncle."? Final score was 1-0; the Tigers beat the Blue Jays the last three games of the season to overtake them. Of course, I might have my facts mixed up, like the change gets on the bar late in the evening.

Saw the same game and wondered if Piazza, for all his faults, wasn't upset that Pedro took so little concern in holding runners, but he knows that he dare say nothing to the great man. Whoever was the guest color man did a great job, like Tom Terrific. To their credit, neither Seaver nor the mystery man are homers. The word 'squeeze' was barely out of our man's mouth when Ausmus dropped it down.

Elsie

Yep, that was Keith announcing. I always loved Keith Hernandez as a player. Now I get a big kick out of him as an announcer. He's so brutally truthful! I can never wait to hear what he has to say next!

Exiled in NJ

The juices are flowing. Tanana did beat Key 1-0, but Larry Herndon hit a HR early for the score; that was back when pitchers went nine innings. Originally I thought Mike Flanigan pitched that game for the Jays, but I think he started the previous Sunday in Toronto at the old ballpark there.

The name 'Ausmus' sent me back into the brain's recesses. I wondered why he didn't bat left against Pedro, but then I realized I had him confused with another Astro catcher with an "A," good old Alan Ashby who was a switchhitter, not that he could hit from either side. I think he came before Pedro, back when the 'Stros were the Dome Nine. The letter "A" must be a prerequisite for the catcher's job in Houston.

Linkmeister

There was a nice story in the current SI (subscribers only at the website) about Pedro. Trading him for DeLino DeShields was one of the more stupid trades the Dodgers ever made, although trading Piazza for whomever (Charles Johnson and a couple of other no-names, as I recall) isn't far behind.

OTOH, at least we still have Vinnie.

Watching Weaver pitch for the Dodgers this year is like watching Pedro pitch for the Sox the past few years; there's an audible "click" when the game's about to go the other way.

Linkmeister

Quote from the SI story:

For instance, though he hadn't pitched in the NL for seven years before this season, Martinez often does not bother reviewing scouting reports or videotape on hitters.

[snip]

Says catcher Mike Piazza, "It's amazing what he picks up just from watching hitters -- the way they react to pitches, the adjustments they might make with their feet, everything. It's not like we go out there with a script. A lot of it is him improvising."

So I don't think Piazza and Martinez discuss much, possibly including holding on runners. That's always been one of Mike's weaknesses anyway; maybe Pedro just figures he can pitch as well with a guy on second as he does on first.

The Heretik

Pedro Martinez statistically is a seven inning, 100 pitch per game performer. As the Old Professor said, you could look it up. That he made it the ninth inning is somewhat astounding. Boone's home run against Pedro came on the 139th pitch.

Lance

Link, NJ, this is why I should do more baseball posts, to get great baseball stories dropped into my comments section by you guys. Link, thanks for the SI article. NJ, thanks for the memories. In '87 I was following the Mets-Cardinals penant race and then the Dodgers vs. Cards playoffs closely, but I watched the AL with only half an eye. What I love about baseball is its narrative arcs. They're strong enough and vivid enough that just by hearing the stories you can feel as though you lived through a season, the game, or the series even if you weren't even born at the time. You've just given me that part of 87.

Link, I once asked my dad, still a devouted Dodgers fan, if many runners stole on Koufax. I was thinking how hard it must have been to get a jump on that fastball. My dad said, "They would have had to get on base first."

I'm wondering if Pedro just never had to bother to learn to hold runners on because by the time the few who got on base got a jump on him the three guys coming to the plate behind him would have struck out. But that was then. He can't pitch that way anymore.

There is also the possibility that he figures there's no point trying with Piazza behind the plate, since no matter how closely he holds the runner, Piazza won't be able to throw him out.

What was he like when he had Varitek back there?

Joe, like I said, Willie made the right call. I just had a feeling in my gut it wouldn't work out.

Exiled in NJ

True story: I saw Sandy K no-hit the Phils in May or June of '64, the year the Phils blew the pennant. The Dodgers came back to town in August and he was to start the final game of that Series. The day began cloudy with chances of rain, so the Phils called the game off and rescheuled it for one of the Jewish Holidays, as a day game.

My parents, sister and I went to the makup game at old Connie Mack Stadium....we had lived two blocks away up until 1950. We saw poetic justice: by then the Dodgers were out of the race, Sandy had been shut down for the season, Jim Brewer started and beat the Phils 3-2, and Frank Thomas, the veteran who was carrying the Phils along with Rich Allen and Callison, broke his hand diving back into second base on a pickoff. I am not making this up....the rest of that September is history.

Linkmeister

Lance, your Dad was close. Career stats for Koufax include Innings Pitched: 2324.3 Hits allowed: 1754. I'd have to look, but I'll bet that ratio has rarely been exceeded.

Lance

Link, those are his career totals, aren't they? I should sit down and figure out what his ratio of hits to innings pitched was after 1961.

I suppose, to be fair, we should throw walks in there.

I've never heard or read a good explanation for what changed him from a good pitcher into the greatest one. Did something just click or did somebody coach him or what?

Linkmeister

Yeah, those are career totals from Baseball-reference.com.

Basically he learned control, unlike other flamethrowers like Rex Barney and Steve Dalkowski. Nolan Ryan never fully mastered it, but he improved one helluva lot after leaving the Mets.

Jane Leavy's bio of Koufax is a wonderful book, and it goes into that a little bit.

Exiled in NJ

Something in midsummer 1959 clicked for Koufax, after they moved to LA. I saw him from a box directly behind home plate that August. Simply awesome. Of course those Phillies has George 'Sparky' Anderson leading off, but he killed them with his heat and that monumental overhand curve. That game, and two before it, saw the emergence of the greatest pitcher we will ever see. By the way, the tickets for that game came from the APBA game company. Anyone else here play APBA baseball as a kid? Do they still make the game?

Linkmeister

I was (sorta) a Strat-O-Matic guy, but yes, they do still make the game, and there's even a site where you can find data disks or downloads.

I saw Koufax a couple of times. Once in NY at Shea against the Mets, who were completely overmatched, and once in DC against the Senators in an exhibition game before the Dodgers headed to LA for the season opener. The Senators were also out of their league (the day before they'd faced Drysdale for a couple of innings, but I was home mowing the yard that day).

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