300-game winners a dying breed
Vail, CO Colorado
CHICAGO ” Three-hundred wins has long punched a ticket to Cooperstown. One reason Tom Glavine could make that trip is his durability ” he’s never been on the disabled list in a career than began in 1987.
He’s doesn’t rely on an overpowering fastball to dominate hitters and doesn’t tax his arm. Instead, he’s brushing the outside corner, mixing pitches and speeds.
Late in his career, the 41-year-old left-hander worked with Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson to alter his approach and sequence of deliveries, making even more guesswork for hitters.
Just like Greg Maddux, his former teammate and the last guy to win 300, Glavine is an all-around player. His athleticism isn’t restricted to baseball ” he was drafted by the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.
He fields his position and he can swing the bat as he showed Sunday night in the Mets’ 8-3 win over the Cubs when he joined the exclusive 300-win club. He had an RBI single, a sacrifice, a bouncer to move a runner up and a walk. It’s an edge that helps greatly, especially in the National League where he’s spent his entire career.
The game has evolved since Glavine broke in with the Atlanta Braves two decades ago. Five-man rotations are commonplace, reducing the number of starts. Bullpen specialists are everywhere.
So it’s just possible Glavine could be the 23rd and final member of the 300-win club.
“Notice the dwindling number of 20-game winners you’ve seen over the years. That’s a pretty good indication in itself,” said Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella said, adding he doesn’t see another 300-game winner on the horizon.
Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks is out with back problems and is almost 44. Even though he has 284 wins, the magic 300 is unlikely for the left-hander.
“I’m not saying I want to be the last one. I would love for someone to have this feeling and this sense of accomplishment,” Glavine said after reaching 300 on his second try. “If I was the last one, I guess it would be pretty cool to be the last one to do something in the game.”
It’s a topic Glavine has dealt with since he reached win No. 299. And two days before pitching at Wrigley Field and getting his 300th, he discussed it again.
“Obviously, Randy is on the doorstep,” he said. “But with his health, that’s something you have to wait and see. There are a lot of talented guys in the game. It’s just a matter of if guys are going to stay healthy 18, 19, 20 years. That’s a big question.”
Glavine notes that 20 years ago no envisioned him reaching this milestone, so another pitcher could emerge ” one combining talent, health, durability and longevity.
It’s just not likely.
The Yankees’ Mike Mussina is 38 and won his 246th over the weekend.
“Fifty-something to go,” he said. “No, I don’t think I’m going to play that long.”
Glavine has one World Series title ” he was the MVP of the Braves’ win over the Indians in 1995 ” two Cy Youngs, five 20-win seasons, 10 All-Star selections and tons of respect across the game.
This season he’s won 10 games and the Mets are in first place. Now Glavine has the number that defines greatness among pitchers.
“It shows you what kind of pitcher he is and what kind of pitcher he still is,” Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca said. “A lot of guys when they get to the end of their career and they get to a milestone, they’re not too good. He’s still pretty darn good.”
Closer Billy Wagner got the final out Sunday night before Glavine headed to the field to hug his teammates.
“I didn’t know what to say. I was kind of overjoyed just seeing how happy and how relieved he looked,” Wagner said. “I just handed him the ball. … We think so much of Tommy. Every time we take the field in Tommy’s game, there’s that extra special feeling for every one of us.”