|Glavine set to try for 300th victory - will he be the last pitcher to reach the mark?|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 30 July 2007 10:08|
Will he also be the last?
Glavine takes the mound in Milwaukee on Tuesday night with a chance to become the 23rd to reach the milestone.
``It's elite company. It's the greatest measuring stick for starting pitchers,'' the New York Mets ace said.
Glavine will try to be the first to win No. 300 since former teammate Greg Maddux did it on Aug. 7, 2004, for the Chicago Cubs against San Francisco.
In the last 60 years, getting 300 wins has become one of the most rare milestones: Only 10 pitchers have achieved it since the end of World War II. And since 1990, only Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and Maddux have made it.
With the greater reliance on bullpens, pitchers making fewer starts and teams being more careful with rich arms, huge win totals are a thing of the past.
So is the 300-game winner about to be extinct?
``The way the game has changed, we're probably pretty close to it,'' said Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, who won 311 games from 1967-86. ``I attribute it to a kind of corporate structure in the game.
``There's a regimentation of how many innings you're going to pitch, and I think much of it is economics,'' he said. ``You don't want paid players on a disabled list. That seems to be the underlying factor in this.''
Following Glavine's 299, Randy Johnson is next on the win list with 284. But the Big Unit, who turns 44 in September, is scheduled for back surgery this week and is out for the season.
``Randy Johnson is there and he's not packing it in. He'll be there next year,'' Seaver said. ``He loves it and he knows the importance of it.''
It hasn't been an easy path for the 41-year-old Glavine, especially lately.
Glavine has four wins in 12 starts dating to May 24, with a 5.43 ERA during that stretch. He's struggled away from Shea Stadium, with an 11.96 ERA in his last five road starts. He's 9-6 with a 4.51 ERA overall.
Maddux said Glavine's willingness to adapt and his ability to work the corners are the main reasons he's on the cusp of 300.
``Part of playing past 10 years is changing things,'' Maddux said. ``Everyone knows what you do by then. You've got to make sure you do something a little differently now and then so you don't get, you know, released.''
But Glavine hasn't changed one big thing.
``He's always stayed away from the middle of the plate,'' Maddux said. ``He's probably one of the best pitchers I've ever seen at not throwing it down the middle.''
Glavine also hasn't been on a poor team since his first four years in Atlanta, before the Braves started winning regularly in 1991. If John Smoltz hadn't been converted into a closer for four seasons, he might well have been on track to reach 300. Instead, the 40-year-old Smoltz has 203 wins and 154 saves.
Clemens leads the active list with 351, followed by Maddux with 340. Cy Young holds the career record with 511.
In Young's day, pitchers started at least every other day. Over the last century, that's changed - teams switched from four-man rotations to five about 25 years ago, and Seaver said the specialization of relievers has changed baseball.
``The responsibility of a game is spread out farther into the bullpen. Everybody has an assigned job,'' Seaver said. ``(Bob) Gibson or I might have 18 to 20 complete games a year. Now, a high might be five, seven.''
Aaron Harang of Cincinnati and C.C. Sabathia led baseball with six complete games last season. No pitcher has recorded double-digit complete games since Randy Johnson's 12 in 1999 with Arizona.
In 1970, eight pitchers had 17 or more complete games.
Not surprisingly, win totals are down, too.
In 1970, there were 11 20-game winners. Last year, no pitcher won 20 for the first time ever in a non-shortened season.
Mike Mussina, who is 38, has 244 wins.
``50-something to go. No, I don't think I'm going to play that long,'' he said.
Pedro Martinez has 206 wins and is 35, but he's just getting into shape after rotator-cuff surgery last October. Andy Pettitte, also 35, has 192 wins.
And look at some of the younger guys.
Atlanta's Tim Hudson is 31 and has 130 wins. Another of Glavine's former Braves teammates, Kevin Millwood, also is at 130. He's 32.
Arizona's Livan Hernandez also 32 and has 129 wins.
Among those under 30, 29-year-old Barry Zito heads the wins list with 109, one more than 29-year-old Roy Oswalt. The 26-year-old Sabathia already has 94 wins.
``No one was supposed to touch Roger Maris or Hank Aaron,'' Maddux said. ``You never know what might happen in this game. I'm sure there's some kid in elementary school right now who's planning to play 20 years. Who knows? Maybe he'll win 400.''
Glavine just can't believe he'll be the last.
``Nobody looked at me 20 years ago and thought we'd be having this discussion so I'm sure there's somebody out there,'' he said. ``They're just a little bit off the radar screen right now.''
AP Sports Writers John Kekis in Cooperstown, Chris Duncan in Houston, Dave Ginsburg in Baltimore and Jay Cohen in New York contributed to this report.