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Tom Seaver: “The Franchise”

Malcolm Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

Today we mourn the passing of a giant in baseball, Tom Seaver. The greatest pitcher in Mets history. When we saw players like him, Gibson, Koufax, Ryan, Palmer, Carlton, etc, we saw a true link to Feller, Hubbell, Dizzy Dean and others we never saw. They were the last of what real pitchers were like.

Today 90% of the pitchers are “Throwers” and 10% who, if allowed to pitch 9 innings, would remind us of those great ones. There will be very few to remember ten years from now from the pitchers of today. I doubt very seriously that we will see a 300 game winner in the future. Complete game winners? Shutouts? What is that? The top 10 pitchers today average 6.2 innings a game. 5.1 inning quality starts? Please. I don’t know how they will analyze stats for HOF voting now.

Seaver would have needed two 10 ton bulldozers to pull him out of a game. This is a pitcher who went 10 innings on three days rest in a 2-1 game in the 1969 World Series! A game that took 2:33 min to play and he batted! His line in that game was 10 Innings pitched, 6 hits, 1 run (1 ER), 2 BB, 6 SO, 118 pitches. And his arm was fine. Good enough to see him pitch for 17 more years. Retiring with 311 wins at 41. Also his his uniform number.

Today the great experiment of the pitch count is a flop. They will not allow a pitcher to throw more than 90 pitches, as little as 75 – 80 for fear that their arms will explode and they have more injuries that require surgery than ever in the history of the game. We see pitchers taken out of games with either a shutout or no hitter going in the 7th or 8th inning because they have reached their magic number of pitches. The significance of a one hit shutout is not important anymore. To the pitcher and the fans, that is a travesty. They have the latest in medical and conditioning and still can’t keep these guys off the DL. When Seaver pitched, they would stick his arm in a bucket of ice. The first time I iced my arm was in college in 1967. Even if I wanted to in HS, our refrigerator only had a 2×2 freezer that held two ice trays with 10 cubes that were for my parents scotch cocktails. I never had a problem with my arm. And neither did Seaver.

Seaver never threw 98 unless he had to. He paced himself. Today we see guys throw 100 mph from the first pitch. Today pitchers don’t know how to pitch inside to move a hitter off the plate. They don’t practice that like we did because they don’t throw BP. We always threw BP. From the mound. Seaver and the others mentioned here threw BP all the time between starts. It was better for our hitters to see live pitching very close to what they would see in a game as well as for us being able to work on things and see how hitters reacted. Today I see a 45 yr old coach lobbing in 50 – 60 mph straight tosses from 35 feet away during big league BP. The hitters bet among themselves all the time as they play HR Derby pre game. No trying to go the other way or line drives to the gaps. Just a joke as they wait for the ooos and ahhhs from the fans.

We were blessed to have been able to see Seaver pitch. Both on TV and live at the stadium. Today when you walk into Citi Field the first thing you see is a giant Dodger blue 42 in the rotunda. No disrespect to Jackie Robinson but there should be a giant 41 in Mets orange right next to it for a giant of a player. “The Franchise.” Tom Seaver.

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