Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pitchers, And Managers, And Pitching Coaches, and John Feinstein's Book

So let's take a break for a minute, and take a trip back in time to last year.

I know, I know... but read on, and I promise you, it'll be worth it.

This morning, John Feinstein, author of the book "Living On The Black," talked with Boomer and Carton on WFAN. For those of you who don't know, this book is the story of the 2007 baseball year in the lives of Mike Mussina and Tom Glavine.

So I'm listening to the interview this morning, and two things caught my attention. And that's a lot, especially first thing in the morning, and all, but anyway, let me share them with you.

In his interviews with Glavine, Feinstein talked about how there appeared to be a definite "disconnect" with Willie and the pitching staff. He cited a couple of examples of this, courtesy of Tom. The first example was a game last year in which Tom was pitching, and he had been battling, and at the end of the fourth inning, it was like 8-6 in favor of the Mets or something like that, and Willie goes over to Tom and tells him that he's done, he's not going back out for the fifth inning. So of course, Tom is kinda pissed (well, he's REALLY kinda pissed), wondering why Willie doesn't at least let him START the fifth inning so Tom can at least attempt to get the win....

And I gotta kinda agree with Tom here. First, he's moving towards 300 wins, it's the f**king FOURTH INNING, fcol, the bullpen was hardly stellar last year, the Mets were up about 12 games in the standings, I think, and you have an established veteran pitcher who at least you would think deserves the courtesy of being allowed to pitch long enough to earn the win, fcol.

Of course, considering the way Tommy Boy choked it the last game of the season, maybe Willie had a point, but still.....

Anyway, the second story goes like this. Tom's working on win 299, and some reporter asks Willie after the game about the whole 300 win thingy and all, and Willie turns around and says, and I loosely quote: "well, it's just a number, I don't think anybody in the clubhouse is even talking about it," and Tom says, well, the pitchers, all of them, basically went ballistic.

And even Willie apparently later admitted that he might not have said the exact right thing, there.

Willie's always admitted he relates better to the position players than to the pitchers, and I guess that's a pretty accurate self-assessment based upon a lot of what Tom had to say.

And I'm sure this isn't unique to the Mets; I would bet that this situation occurs on many other teams.

Like the Yankees.

Mike Mussina tells about being demoted from the starting rotation last year, and about how he was apparently upset with Joe Torre and the way the demotion was handled, but the most telling thing was the fact that Mussina said pitching coach Ron Guidry didn't speak to him for three weeks after the demotion occurred.

Yikes... talk about being on somebody's shit list.....

Of course, the ever tactful Boomer tried putting a different spin on the Guidry/Mussina story, but I couldn't help but be reminded of what Jim Bouton talked about in "Ball Four" vis a vis pitchers, pitching coaches, and managers. In the book, he talked about how with some pitching coaches and managers, you could tell the way you were going as a starter by the greeting you got from them. If you walked past the pitching coach, and he said "Hey, Jimmy Boy, how ya doing, nice day, good day to play ball," and patted you on the back, you had probably won your last couple of decisions.

If you walked past him, and he acknowledged you with a "hello," and moved on, you probably had pitched fairly well, but hadn't won in maybe your last two decisions, but you were still one of his guys.

If you walked past him, and he just grunted in your general direction, you were probably on the precipice of either being sent to the bullpen or sent down.

And if you walked past him, and he ignored you totally, you should probably just begin packing your bags, and kind of in haste.

And so it goes.....


The Coop said...

This is great Deb - I just found this book by accident, I haven't bought it yet. but I will say this - I plan to address it on MSF when I finish it - but I think our perception of Tom Glavine - esp vis a vis the last game - will change. Plus, the way the whole "devastated" question was phrased, I don't blame him for answering the question like he did. I'm sure if someone says, do you feel like you let your team down, he would have said yes. Tracy (Crazymetgirl) said it best - we didn't think he was a bad guy, he just didn't belong here.

Deb said...

It was really a great interview, Coop, and I too can't wait to read the book.

Even if it does contain some Yankee stuff, hardee har har!

I'm starting to think Willie is slowly opening the door to his way out of the manager's job, as Corey said on Metsie.