I watched Game 6 of the 1979 World Series last night. The Pirates beat Baltimore to force Game 7. (Spoiler: The Pirates won Game 7, too.)
I loved the Pirates’ bright gold softball uniforms. They hit the ball like it was slow-pitch, too. The Lumber Company could mash.
Baseball was better then, not least because it was more quickly played. But it was better on a lot of other levels, too.
Consider that Game 6: The Pirates led 2-0 in the seventh. Their closer, Kent Tekulve, entered the game. He got a three-inning save: one hit, no runs, no walks, four strikeouts.
If a closer got a three-inning save today, there would be a Congressional investigation.
These days, too much is done to protect pitchers’ arms. Like every other MLB team, the Pirates go to great lengths in that regard. But, at 28, Jameson Taillon has had two Tommy John surgeries.
Pitchers get paid a ton. It’s an investment. I get it.
So pay the pitchers less. Give them shorter term. Treat them like the NFL treats running backs: Mostly disposable.
Gerrit Cole has had three truly good seasons out of seven. The New York Yankees gave him a nine-year contract worth $324 million.
That’s absurd, especially since he’ll rarely pitch more than six innings. (Seven innings is baseball’s current version of a complete game.) You don’t get your money’s worth.
Protecting a pitcher by limiting his work is a baseball truism. But it makes little sense and doesn't always work.
Pay less. Give shorter term. The starters all pitch 300 innings. Natural selection decides.
But that won’t happen. Baseball has “evolved” beyond that. Not one pitcher has thrown 300 innings since 1980. All the teams do the same thing just because.
Check out baseball at its best, and the Pirates at theirs: 1979 World Series highlights are below.
Thumbnail courtesy of Getty Images.