Saturday, November 29, 2008

Zen Dayley: Save that Tiger, and CC's body of work

A nice bit of Seamheady news on this final Saturday in November: The effort to preserve a portion of Tiger Stadium in Detroit is down to the nitty-gritty.

Basically, the decision will come Monday. The emotional import of converting the site at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull for youth sports certainly resonates on this side of the border. Tiger Stadium, back in the day when the Jays and the Tigers were divisional rivals and were competing for the AL East title,. was a perfect backdrop for the rivalry during the 1980s. The Tigers were a traditional American League team, classic uniforms, Sparky Anderson, Jack Morris glaring out from the mound, all that. The Jays had that newness about them. They played on turf, they wore uniforms that back then seemed modish but were really ugly, and they were one of the first teams to embrace the Latin explosion in baseball -- George Bell, Tony Fernandez. It would be nice, for lack of a better word, to know some of that hasn't been wrecking-balled. Canadian cities have not done a particularly good job with their old sports palaces that the people imbued with history -- what's happened in Toronto with Maple Leaf Gardens is just slightly short of appalling. Besides, Jays fans, having grown up going to Exhibition Stadium (which only a masochist could miss) and the world's largest Rogers Video store, can only envy fans that have that kind of history. It would be a shame to lose it entirely.

Oh, and thanks to 1987, the Tigers still own the Jays, even after two World Series.

(Incidentally, if you come across a book titled It Never Rains In Tiger Stadium, it's about LSU Tigers football, not baseball. It sounds like a helluva read, though, from John Ed Bradley.)

CC: It's about BMI, not ERA

Rob Neyer
is raising some questions about CC Sabathia's weight issues:
If I were considering signing Sabathia, there's really just one thing I would worry about: He's the most massive great pitcher we've ever seen. Sabathia's listed weight is now 290 pounds. Maybe it's because of rank political correctness, but Sabathia's build seems to me like the elephant in the room that everyone's ignoring.
It's a valid question. There probably isn't enough relevant evidence to figure out how a 290-lb. starting pitcher is going to hold up over time, especially as the average North American continues to get bigger. There simply haven't been that many pitchers with Sabathia's body type who have had a significant career.

It is certainly true that Cecil Fielder and Mo Vaughn, who were big guys, disappeared quickly from the majors as soon as their production slipped. The stereotype has been that bigger people wear out quickly, just from the repetitive strain of making 32 starts as a pitcher or playing a 162-game schedule.

Fielder was done at age 34,.Vaughn played his last game at 35. In the 1960s, there was Dick Radatz, a prototype closer whose weight fluctuated between 235 and 260, and he burned out after a couple lights-out seasons with the Red Sox.

(In the low-scoring 1960s, Dick Radatz once struck out 10 batters over six no-hit innings to win an extra-inning game. He pitched again on one day's rest and threw 8 2/3 innings of one-hit, shutout ball to get another W. God only knows what his WPA would have been for those performances.)

Again, there's not enough evidence to find out what can be projected for Sabathia. You'd have to think it's crossed a few teams' minds.

Tiger stadium group pitches again (Detroit News)


eyebleaf said...

CC's not fat. He's big-boned.

Greg said...

Speaking of books about Tiger Stadium.

Please, read The Final Season, by Tom Stanton.

He went to every game at Tiger Stadium in 1999. He missed his son's birthday party to keep the streak alive, to name just one anecdote. He interviews the press elevator operator, ushers and a host of others.

It's one of my favourite books. Then again, I grew up in that ball park.