April 01, 2007

Where Have All the 20-Game Winners Gone???

The Times' Murray Chass pens his usually great baseball article today, entitled "Of Rocks and Apples and the Disappearance of the 20-Game Winner." Johan Santana came close with 19, and with a little more luck, should have hit the magic "20" mark. It makes one long for the days when pitching still ruled the game...

Although I was born in the early 1960's, I became what I would consider a "knowledgable" baseball fan in the early 70's. My favorite game of all time, to this day, was a match-up between the Phillies and Mets, in 1973, long before we dared to dream that their 82 wins would take them all the way to the World Series. The pitchers that day- Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver, both future hall-of-famers, and both winners of 20 games multiple times throughout their careers. My cousin, Paul Vegoda, acquired amazing seats for us, as he was with IBM at the time, and the IBM box seats were a mere 4 rows behind the Mets' dugout, a few feet from owner Joan Payson's box. I remember the sweat coming off Carlton's face as he came out of his wind-up, and it was watching these 2 masters (and future hall-0f-famers) at work that made me realize that the secret to the game wasn't great hitting, it was great pitching! Casual fans and those not enamored of our national past-time criticize the game as being "boring" when faced with 1-0 and 2-1 pitcher's duels; my own grandfather, a big-time baseball fan, was bored to tears while watching Jim Bunning pitch a perfect game on Father's Day in 1966 while watching the game live with my dad, but thankfully I side with my father and agree that these duels are far more exciting than a blow-out could ever be! Strategy is only invisible to the eye of an under-educated fan, and great writers such as George Will can speak to the beauty of the hit-and-run or a sacrifice bunt. But for those of us steeped on names such as Hunter, Palmer, Sutton, Seaver, Carlton, Dierker, Jenkins, Blue, Stoneman, Jones, Cuellar, Gullet, etc., the 20-game winner will always be the cream of the crop in baseball!

With that in mind, Murray Chass explores how it came to pass that, for the first time in a full, non-shortened season, MLB had no 20-game winners. Check out this great article by clicking on the title of this post, and let's hope the game is flush with 20 game winners this season!

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