Friday, February 24, 2012

#339 - All Star Pitchers

Finally we get to the pitchers so this will be a big post. Catfish was having one of his banner seasons by the break while Rick Wise had a nice early run that partly redeemed him from being the other side of the big Steve Carlton trade from a year earlier. While these guys did not have the most impressive numbers for their positions they would both go on to record one of the best seasons of their careers. And they both pitched well in the game. Let's line up the AL guys first:

Catfish Hunter - 15-3 with a 3.32 ERA
Bert Blyleven - 12-9 with a 2.59 ERA
Jim Colburn - 13-5 with a 2.78 ERA and one save
Ken Holtzman - 15-9 with a 2.23 ERA
Bill Lee - 12-4 with a 2.63 ERA and one save
Nolan Ryan - 11-12 with a 2.84 ERA
Bill Singer - 15-5 with a 2.65 ERA
Sparky Lyle - 3-5 with a 1.91 ERA and 26 saves
Rollie Fingers - 3-5 with a 1.26 ERA and 10 saves.

First off, it's pretty amazing how many decisions some of these guys already had. At this point in the season each team had played roughly 98 games. So Ken Holtzman had a decision in about a quarter of his team's games by then. Also this list underscores part of the reason Oakland won three straight Series with three guys with excellent numbers as All-Stars. Blyleven and Colburn were young guys on their way to their best seasons and would both win 20 for the only time in their careers. Bill Lee was becoming a fan favorite in Boston and spent a bunch of time in the pen in '73. Ryan and Singer were a hot duo for the Angels and while Nolan's record wasn't so hot he'd already struck out over 200 batters by then. And Sparky after a slow start - no saves until May - was on a torrid pace. Now for the NL guys:

Rick Wise - 11-5 with a 3.10 ERA
Jack Billingham - 14-6 with a 2.02 ERA
Claude Osteen - 11-5 with a 3.03 ERA
Don Sutton - 12-6 with a 2.39 ERA
Tom Seaver - 11-5 with a 2.02 ERA
Wayne Twitchell - 8-3 with a 2.29 ERA
Jim Brewer - 4-3 with a 2.01 ERA and 11 saves
Dave Giusti - 6-1 with a 1.39 ERA and 10 saves.

Wise was a big reason why the Cards were in first after the break after a 3-22 start to the season. Billingham was doing all he could to make everyone know that the Reds were more than an offensive marvel. The Dodgers matched Oakland by having three pitchers on the staff with Jim Brewer performing pretty well in his last big season and Osteen putting up big enough numbers to land LA the big slugger it needed in '74. Seaver was a perennial and would go on to grab a Cy. Twitchell was the Phillies' sole representative and Giusti, like Brewer, was having a big year late in his career. So the AL totals are 101-57 with 38 saves and the NL's are 77-34 with 21 saves with the AL having an extra guy. This is a tough one. I know the NL killed in this game but I gotta give the edge here to the AL guys.

The final piece gives zero information; it lets us know the MVP was a black guy but nothing else. But we already knew who it was.

In music we get a new Number One in the States in '73. This song would, I believe, go on to be the top song for the entire year on a lot of playlists. "Killing Me Softly With His Song" by Roberta Flack had actually been previously recorded by another artist and Roberta after hearing it adopted it as hers after long hours spent in the studio perfecting it. The song is about a concert the writers attended by Don McLean - who had a big hit with "American Pie" - so he was the "His" of the song title.

So back to baseball, here is the big bonus. It's the whole puzzle. It isn't a great shot but this way nobody has to do the old cut and paste. Plus, to the best of my knowledge, it's the last puzzle Topps ever did.

This is a full-service blog. Tell your friends.

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