Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Dubious Distinction?

About two weeks ago Tom Glavine of the New York Mets joined the 300 wins club. There was a lot of media attention, and the pressure showed on Glavine, the usually stoic-faced starter who played for the Braves before coming to the Mets. Among the issues raised by Glavine's achievement was the possibility that he may be the last 300 game winner. Only a few other pitchers have a slight outside chance of getting there - Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina among them - but given their age and recent downslides probaly won't. After he reached the 300 win milestone, the Mets had a special day at Shea for him, showering him with kudos, including video congratulations from other members of the 300 win club, as well as a variety of gifts, all well deserved for a pitcher who never threw hard but won mostly with guile and intellect.

No one has really paid attention to another "milestone" that Glavine is likely to reach this year: he is 3 wins shy of becoming a 200 game loser. What's just as striking about this "achievement" as the 300 wins is that, along with becoming the last pitcher to win 300, he may also become the last pitcher to lose 200. The next two in line are Roger Clemens at 183 and Jaime Moyer at 174 but it's unlikely that either of these two will pitch long enough to catch up to Glavine, especially Clemens who now only pitches two-thirds of a season after he is lured out of retirement by a record-breaking financial offer.

Will the media trail Glavine from stadium to stadium after he loses number 199? If he loses 200, will the Mets hold a special day at Shea, where he returns the gifts he got for his 300 wins? Will Tom Seaver give a speech and be the first to welcome Glavine to the 200 loss club? This is tongue in cheek, of course, but it's interesting how one pitcher can become the symbol of the way starting pitching has changed in the majors, such that Glavine may become the last man to have enough decisions, i.e. pitch enough good innings for a sufficently long time, to have both 300 wins and 200 loses.


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