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THE KOUFAX (OR GIBSON OR GROVE, ETC.) PARADOX

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  • THE KOUFAX (OR GIBSON OR GROVE, ETC.) PARADOX

    After the ’63 World Series, in which Sandy Koufax beat Whitey Ford twice in five days as the Dodgers swept the Yankees, Yogi Berra said, "I can see how he won 25 games. What I don't understand is how he lost five."

    In that ’63 season, Sandy was 25-5, with 11 shutouts and a 1.88 ERA.

    In his NON-shutout games, Sandy went 14-5, with an ERA of 2.76. Nothing to be ashamed of, but still not the dominating level of performance that marked the 11 gems -- one of which was a no-hitter.

    It IS a puzzlement. How is it that the great (and even pretty good) pitchers can be almost uhittable most of the time, and then get knocked around so badly on their “off days?”

    What happens to them that causes them to “lose their stuff?”

    Maybe some of you who’ve pitched can explain it.


  • #2
    RE: THE KOUFAX (OR GIBSON OR GROVE, ETC.) PARADOX

    >After the ’63 World Series, in which Sandy Koufax beat
    >Whitey Ford twice in five days as the Dodgers swept the
    >Yankees, Yogi Berra said, "I can see how he won 25 games.
    >What I don't understand is how he lost five."
    >
    >In that ’63 season, Sandy was 25-5, with 11 shutouts and a
    >1.88 ERA.
    >
    >In his NON-shutout games, Sandy went 14-5, with an ERA of
    >2.76. Nothing to be ashamed of, but still not the
    >dominating level of performance that marked the 11 gems --
    >one of which was a no-hitter.

    #It was more than just a no-hitter. It was a perfect game.
    >
    >It IS a puzzlement. How is it that the great (and even
    >pretty good) pitchers can be almost uhittable most of the
    >time, and then get knocked around so badly on their “off
    >days?”
    >
    >What happens to them that causes them to “lose their stuff?”

    #They're human, not robots. What causes a .350 batter, with forty home runs, to strike out 4 times against a mediocre pitcher? Same reason.
    >
    >Maybe some of you who’ve pitched can explain it.

    Comment


    • #3
      RE: THE KOUFAX (OR GIBSON OR GROVE, ETC.) PARADOX

      >
      >#It was more than just a no-hitter. It was a perfect game.

      Sandy's '63 no-hitter was "ONLY" that -- a no-hitter against the Giants. His perfect game, against Chicago, was in '65.

      >#They're human, not robots. What causes a .350 batter, with
      >forty home runs, to strike out 4 times against a mediocre
      >pitcher? Same reason.

      I realize they're human, but I was looking for an explanation unique to pitchers. Are they unable to explain why they had an "off day," or is there perhaps a physical, "mechanical" change that explains why they lose their stuff?

      Comment


      • #4
        RE: THE KOUFAX (OR GIBSON OR GROVE, ETC.) PARADOX

        [updated:LAST EDITED ON Apr-10-02 AT 07:18 PM (EDT)]Women!......and in Ford's case it was drinking!

        Sam Sneed had it it right, he had nothing to do with his wife before
        or during a tournment...aside from mental agro's, they drain your strength.


        pb::

        Comment


        • #5
          RE: THE KOUFAX (OR GIBSON OR GROVE, ETC.) PARADOX

          [updated:LAST EDITED ON Apr-10-02 AT 07:56 PM (EDT)]>
          >>#They're human, not robots. What causes a .350 batter, with
          >>forty home runs, to strike out 4 times against a mediocre
          >>pitcher? Same reason.
          >
          >I realize they're human, but I was looking for an
          >explanation unique to pitchers. Are they unable to explain
          >why they had an "off day," or is there perhaps a physical,
          >"mechanical" change that explains why they lose their stuff?

          BASEBALL_TRIVIA_NUT

          You already have the answer, "they're human, not robots".
          IBM's Deep Blue chessplaying robot crushed the internationally
          known chessmaster Karpov and would do it again and again like
          clockwork, as Karpov himself would admit to all admirers of
          his "inhuman" chess playing abilities because a robot is
          programmed to perform unerringly, and save a computer malfunction,
          should beat any human chess player alive and any number of them
          24/7, because it is not subject to human frailty, as human beings
          are!

          Ah, that's the ticket, human frailty - the reason Ruth did
          not hit a dinger every time and Feller didn't whiff every hitter!
          A robot throwing a baseball at 120 mph would strike me out 24/7!
          It would strike many professional ballplayers out 24/7 and the
          automated umpire assigned to the project would identify every
          pitch thrown as a strike - because the robot is programmed to
          throw only strikes over different parts of the plate and at
          different heights, but all unerringly strikes!

          Can a human being do that? No way, Jose, and Randy Johnson,
          the great Randy Johnson, would admit to being human and
          acknowledge he might throw a strike 9 out of 10, or even 10
          out of 10, but not 100 out of 100 like the robot can!

          The human being is not a robot and can slip a fraction of
          an inch from an intended trajectory and there is the flaw
          that reveals the human frailty - the intended strike is ball
          3 outside!

          That's all it is, my friend, human frailty! Mike Flanagan
          could stand next to me while I toss batting practice and tell
          me exactly how to throw the ball and I might throw it that way
          once out of 20 times, which is why I am not in the majors or
          the minors or amateur ball!

          Said another way, all professional players know what they are
          supposed to do while hitting or pitching, and those who develop
          a degree of perfection at it become major league players and those
          who execute unerringly 95% of the time become All-Stars and those
          who execute unerringly 100% of the time are disqualified because
          they are robots and are not allowed to play the game designed for
          humans - not even the Babe could execute unerringly 100% of the
          time, nor could "Big Train", nor Jim Palmer, a ballplayer who
          always strove for 100% perfection from the pitching mound, and
          all of those icons recognized that one reality, that even though
          they knew what to do and how to do it, human frailty would sometimes
          intervene, and the 100% perfection would be lost for that moment
          and possibly for extended periods, an inning, 2 innings, an entire
          game!

          Thus, a batter like Ruth could fan 4 times in one game because
          his timing, for whatever reason, was off for that game, or he,
          for some reason changed his swing unknowingly by a fraction of an
          inch, and the 100% perfection in his swing would have been lost
          due to human frailty.

          Likewise, for a Feller or a Palmer. His last outing might
          have been a no-hitter because he executed every pitch to 100%
          perfection, but, now, he is struggling because his release point
          is off a fraction and he has walked 5 in a row to walk himself
          out of his next ball game - human frailty was his undoing!

          "They're human, not robots!"

          Enough said!

          BASEBALL_TRIVIA_NUT

          Comment


          • #6
            RE: Beyond "Robot"

            Pitchers such as Jamie Moyer have preferences when it comes to the weather. Moyer has always hated pitching in the heat as he loves to wear a long sleeve shirt under his jersey. It really messed him up last year when he was in Texas later in the season and had to pitch in a short sleeve. Factor in humidity, etc. and the ball is going to behave very differently from day to day, and park to park.

            Other factors... all pitching mounds are different, as well as the box. Umps have different strike zones.

            In Kofax's case his elbow was always a problem for him. It's what caused him to retire at a young age. Marvin Miller talks of seeing him in the '66 All Star game after he had been the starter. Said his elbow was the size of a grapefruit to which Kofax said, "Aw this is nothing Mr. Miller. You should see it after 9 innings". Of course he retired later that year, but there are some other reasons beyond the obvious fact that they are simply not robots. It's a testament to guys like Kofax, Dreysdale, Gibson, Spahn, Hunter, and Ryan as to the consistency and the durability at the position.

            Pitching... the most unnatural thing an arm can do. Was never designed for such mechanics.

            Show me a guy who can't pitch inside and I'll show you a loser. - Sandy Koufax.
            http://www.oregonbaseballcampaign.com

            Comment


            • #7
              RE: THE KOUFAX (OR GIBSON OR GROVE, ETC.) PARADOX

              I remember seeing a game in Chavez Ravine in '66 when Koufax beat the Cardinals, gave up something like ten hits and got a shutout. He had it when he needed it and he carefully rationed the effort to get the big outs. Now I know that was his last year, but might that thinking have prevailed throughout his career (once he learned the difference between throwing and pitching), since Sandy was, among other things, a very "heady" pitcher.

              In other words, once the no-hitter or shutout went "by the boards", Koufax might have "dialed it down" slightly, not enough to get hit hard, but enough to win without being overpowering. It would be interesting to know the scores of the "NON-shutout games". A plethora of 7-2, 8-3 wins would indicate that Sandy was cruising through those games at about 75/80 percent effectiveness. Of course a bunch of 4-3, and 5-4 games would blow my theory away, a not particularly unknown occurance.
              After 1957, it seemed like we would never laugh again. Of course, we did. Its just that we were never young again.

              Comment


              • #8
                RE: THE KOUFAX (OR GIBSON OR GROVE, ETC.) PARADOX

                Could I get a robot designed to look like a human to play for my team?
                Baseball articles you might not like but should read.

                Comment


                • #9
                  With Koufax it probbaly had more to do with whether he was pitching at home or on the road. He was 11-1 with a 1.38 ERA at home...so he probably didnt have a single 'bad' start at home. On the road he was much more human, and probably had several less that stellar starts.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    B_T_N has the salient point: it's just not there every time out. Apart from the physical things (the Moyer anecdote is a good example, and some guys strongly prefer either day or night), the simple fact is that some days you can't get loose, other ones the feel isn't right for breaking pitches, the ball doesn't feel rightin your hand...every truly great pitcher learns how to get by with less than his ideal stuff because the percentage of times you climb up there and it's all working isn't all that high.
                    3 6 10 21 29 31 35 41 42 44 47

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      How can someone bowl a perfect game and then a 210?

                      Gibson had a 0.20 ERA over a stretch of 12 starts but was a sucky 1.12 for the season. That's a 560% dropoff.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Every player has streaks, favorite parks, favorite opponents, good days, bad days and.....very lucky days.

                        On June 20, 1980, 5-4, 145 pound Freddie Patek, playing for the Angels, hit three homeruns in a game, becoming the second shortstop to ever accomplish that feat (Ernie Banks, a proven power hitter, was the first).

                        But Freddie only hit 41 round trippers in his 14-year career. Freddie had five seasons as a starter or platoon player where he didn't hit three homeruns (career high was six).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I was just thinking, in 1966, Cardinal pitcher Larry Jaster, playing in his first full MLB season, threw five shutouts and posted an 11-5 record. All five shutouts were against the Dodgers (who won the NL pennant that season). Larry had a 3.26 ERA in 1966. But he was unmerciful against LA.

                          Ironically, he made his debut against the Dodgers during a coffee break callup in 1965. He tossed a scoreless, hitless inning against them.

                          Larry would only throw two shutouts the remainder of his career (I'm not sure if they were against the Dodgers or not). Of course his arm would turn sour in 1969 and his career would be over not too long after that.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LouGehrig View Post
                            Could I get a robot designed to look like a human to play for my team?
                            Should we send Ichiro or Pujols?
                            (fantasy football)
                            JM: Only did that for a couple of years and then we had a conspiracy so it kind of turned me sour. Our league's commissioner, Lew Ford(notes) at the time, was doing some shady things that ... I'd rather not talk about [laughs].
                            DB: Isn't he in Japan right now?
                            JM: I don't know where Lou is right now. He's probably fleeing the authorities [laughs].

                            Comment

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