Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Roger Angell, Author Who Throws Strikes by Ed Stern

Marty; You mentioned today that good pitching requires the throwing of strikes. In that respect, I call your attention to the recent publication of Roger Angell’s collection of articles from the New Yorker, going back twenty five or more years. The most perceptive writing about the great game that I have read.

Fans Click Below for Another Excellent Analysis By Ed Stern

Thanks Ed!There is one article among the thirty or so, long and short, which, by itself, is worth the price of the book and more. The article concerns two days Angell spent with Bob Gibson, after Gibson’s retirement, talking about baseball and, particularly, pitching. When asked about the great pitchers who had been around during the seventeen years he had pitched for the Cardinals, Hall of Fame pitchers, Spahn, Koufax, Drysdale, Marichal, Gibson said he thought that ‘Marichal had been the best hurler of their time, because of his absolute control. I had a better fast ball and slider but he was a better pitcher than me or Koufax.’ This judgment was echoed by Pete Rose, who is quoted by Angell as having said ‘ I started out against pitchers like Spahn, but the best pitcher I ever batted against was Juan Marichal. The hardest thrower was Koufax and the greatest competitor was Gibson.’ What impressed the great pitcher, Gibson, and the great hitter, Rose, was Marichal’s control. One of the anecdotes Gibson mentions, to illustrate his point, took place when Mike Shannon, an outfielder, was asked to play third base. He kept asking Gibson where Gibson wanted him to play. Gibson replied that ‘he didn’t give a damn where he played unless there was a right handed batter coming up with a man on first, and less than two out, but then he should be ready, because he’d be getting a ground ball, right to him. And I’d throw a sinker down and in and the batter would hit it on the ground to Mike, to start the double play, and when we came in off the field Mike would look at me with his mouth wide open and he’d say, How did you know?’. He didn’t have the faintest idea that when I threw that pitch to the batter he had to hit it to him there! He didn’t know what pitching was all about.” When it comes to pitching, nothing much has changed since the times Gibson was reminiscing about. It is still about control, not only the ability to throw strikes, as you point out, but the ability to put the ball where you want it to go, whether in the strike zone, as established these days by the umpire, or outside the zone, unhittable,(in the pitcher’s judgment) but tempting. Which brings us to the difference between a young pitcher such as Jerome Williams and a Damian Moss. It also accounts for the performance of Foppert last night. He threw one- hit ball for six innings, striking out ten batters. He was ahead in the count consistently, more often than not with two strikes on the batter before the batter realized the trouble he was in. There were no 3 and 1 counts until he began to lose it in the 7th inning. If Foppert can continue to pitch at this level, and if Brower’s performance during his last start is a reliable indication of what can be expected from here until the end of the year, the Giants will have addressed their greatest need.( Fingers are crossed, respecting Schmidt’s health.) All of the above is of current significance. The Giants start a four game series with Arizona tonight. They are currently seven games ahead of the D’Backs, nine and a half ahead of the Dodgers. Everytime either of these pursuers raise the possibility of catching up and then getting in front, the Giants beat them off. This happens either in their face to face meetings or as a result of the outcome of games with other teams. Within only a relatively few games from the start of the season, at a time when the Dodgers had drawn even with the Giants despite the Giants great 18 and 4 start, and following a face to face series, the Giants were characterized as “winners” and LA as “losers”. Constantly, since the end of spring training, the question was being asked “why do the Giants keep on winning?” The answer was always seemingly elusive. By now, with a team record that is exceeded only by Atlanta’s, the conclusion is that they win because they are a very good club and they know how to play the game. More recently, Arizona and the Giants met in a three game series in Arizona. Arizona was coming off a month long stretch in which they seemed unable to lose. They had picked up, however, only three games on the Giants during that time and were still four games back. The Giants beat them decisively in the first two games. Brower lost the third game, with a complete lack of control. The Giants would like to consider this performance an aberration. They prefer his following start, last week, in which he threw strikes consistently. Brower says that he can’t wait to face Arizona again and prove that his previous outing against the D’Backs was not representative of what the future holds. We shall see shortly. If the Giants come away from this series with a split, all that Arizona will have succeeded in doing was to take four games off the schedule. That is something a team, finding itself seven games behind, would not consider encouraging. Arizona needs at least three of these games. If the Giants were to take three, Arizona would find itself nine games back. Not a desirable place to be. The Tuesday matchup, Schiller aginst Moss, looks like a mismatch. If Schmidt is healthy, Arizona is going to have it’s hands full with Williams and Schmidt. Grissom’s injury, sustained yesterday when he made a wonderful catch, is characterized as day-to-day. Such characterizations have a way of ending up with the player on the DL. The team can hardly afford losing Grissom. They have been short of outfielders since the start of the year. They ended up yesterday’s game, with the Rockies making a determined move to overcome an initial six run deficit, with an outfield consisting of Cruz, a right fielder, and a very good one, playing center. However, they had a minor league outfielder, with no arm, playing in right and a third baseman playing left field as only a third baseman might be expected to play. They need outfield help, which is not a new thought. Bernard is not going to be the saviour, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. How far away is Hammond from playing condition? One final thought; the Giants play seven games against LA in the final ten days of the season. It would be a matter of great comfort if the Giants could maintain a lead over Arizona, similiar to the one they now have, before those last ten days. LA would like nothing better than to knock the Giants out of first place during that seven game stretch and salvage some small measure of comfort from a not very happy season. Shades of 1934, when the playing manager of the Giants, Bill Terry, asked to comment about the then Brooklyn Dodgers, queried “Are they still in the league?” He found out when they beat the Giants in the dying days of the season, knocked them out of first place and provided the margin of victory for St. Louis.


1 Anonymous { 07.21.03 at 8:40 pm }

Ed Stern is a great fan and does he know the Giants- way to go ,Ed.

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