Gaylord Perry

I was a mediocre pitcher on a small-school team.  In a desperate attempt to find an edge, I experimented with trick pitches like the knuckler and palm ball.  Although I was book-smart, looking back it is laughable now to consider some of my quirks on the mound.  For example, an umpire typically had five balls in rotation for a game in various degrees of newness, and I would always ask for the one that was shiny and white.  If only I had thought about how it would be harder for the hitter to see the old, dirty ones!

Spitball

Major leaguers are also trying to find an edge.  Steroids were not yet an option, but in 1975  you could cork a bat or scuff the ball (or apply Ben-Gay).  For whatever reason, I never tried a spitter.  I like to think it’s because it didn’t seem honorable, but the reality is probably more complicated.  Anyone who has ever pitched knows how maddening it is to hear the “Just throw strikes” cliche — if only it was that easy, once you’ve fallen out of rhythmn! — so the natural instinct is to use pristeen, unadulterated  balls in hopes they will fly straight and true, as indended.  It would take a pro’s level of control to add a foreign substance!

The IBC has some great rosters, and where you often see the quality most is on the pitching staff.  Davenport has Gibson and McLain, Des Moines has Jenkins and Stottlemyre, etc.  But based on the results these first five weeks, it is Council Bluffs that has the best duo. Number 1 is  Gaylord Perry (16-15, 2.45, and 291 IP), currently a Cy-like 7-0 with a 0.62 ERA.  Their other Clydesdale is Juan Marichal (26-9, 2.43, and 326 IP), who is 5-2 in the early going.  Rounding things out are 23-yo Jim Nash (13-13, 2.28), 23-yo Blue Moon Odom (16-10, 2.45), 24-yo Chuck Dobson (12-14, 3.00).  Ray Sadecki (12-18, 2.91) is the rotation’s sole lefty.  

The depth of this staff is such that righties Bobby Bolin (10-5, 1.99, and 177 IP) and Lew Krausse (10-11, 3.11, and 185 IP) are being used as middle relievers!  The more traditional right-handed bullpen arms include Frank Linzy (2.08, 95 IP, and 12 saves), Diego Segui (2.39 and 83 IP), and Jack Aker (4.10, 75 IP, and 12 saves).  Two fine lefties complete the pen: 33-yo Joe Gibbon (1.58 and 40 IP) and Paul Lindblad (2.40 and 56 IP).

Just two pitchers with the sorting requirement of 120+ IPs and/or a WAR of 0.5+ didn’t make the final 30-man roster for Council Bluffs.  They are the two “must cuts” according to the rules of roster structure: 22-yo Jim Hunter (13-13, 3.35, 234 IP) and Mike McCormick (12-14, 3.58, 198 IP).  I know what you’re all saying — “How could you cut Catfish!” — but that just goes to show the superstar slant of this type of league.

© John Kisner 2019