- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Seaver keeps track of what hitters around the league are doing, especially clubs the Mets will face during the next week. Big on box scores. He also checks to see who is pitching against them. Two nights before he pitches he tries to get 10, maybe 12 hours sleep. Says nine is all he needs the night before a game. But win or lose—and of course it's mostly win—he cannot sleep after pitching, so he stays up for hours reading. He's been reading Prime Time, an Edward R. Murrow biography—not, as he says, because he was a fan of Murrow's but because Murrow was a singular force. Try to figure that one out.
"He's a very down-to-earth guy" is what Bud Harrelson says. Bud's his roomie on the road. "While we were in Montreal. Tom bought a $40 pair of sunglasses, but he isn't bent toward extravagance. He takes a week to pick out a suit. Tom is such a Henry Aaron fan he sent him a telegram after Aaron's 3,000th hit." Imagine that. Probably hopes Henry will take it easy on him.
Now Koosman, tough lefthander as we know, has won 36 games in two seasons with the Mets, plus two more in the World Series. Used to throw a lot of sliders till Gil Hodges and Rube told him to junk the pitch. Stick to the fastball and curve, they said. That gets 'em out. Rube keeps a sharp eye on Jerry when he's pitching to make sure he doesn't drop his arm. You know, if he's tired he has a tendency to do that. His strongest release point is straight overhand, and when he drops to three quarter delivery he has to be brought back up. That's what Rube says.
Koosman is the team joker, a fun-loving Minnesota farm boy. Likes to switch the label on the deodorant can so that it appears to be hair spray. "Koos has more fun with his gags than the people listening" is what Ron Swoboda says.
Joe Deer, the trainer, says Koosman won't come near him. " Seaver likes a light massage and a dab of Abolene cream before pitching," Joe Deer says. "Gentry likes to have his arm stretched by massage of back and shoulder. He also puts his arm in a little ice after he pitches. Ryan needs pinch pads on his right foot and big toe, because he drags it when he strides. But Koosman hardly lets me in the same room with him even."
So much for oddball lefthanders. Now Gentry was a rookie last year when he won 13 games, plus that third Series game. Rube says he's improved more in one year than the other three, even if he looked lousy against us Saturday. Gentry talks in clipped sentences and shows a short temper sometimes, but he doesn't lose his cool. He often wears cowboy boots, blue jeans and chews tobacco. Not when pitching, though. "Can't chew it and think about more than one thing at a time" is what he says. His one problem is that he tries to throw too hard.
Nolan Ryan chewed, too, but bubble gum, until Hodges made him quit, because he felt it hurt the kid's image. Now there's something Gil wouldn't have thought of back there in Brooklyn. Ryan is fast, faster than the others, faster than anybody. Better curve this year, too. Has thrown a one-hitter and two two-hitters, including that one against us Sunday. Has a tendency to lean back once in a while and when he does his stuff is wild-high. He also tries to throw harder than a Nolan Ryan has to.
This is Ryan's third year, though he still hasn't pitched 150 innings in a season. Blisters used to hurt him. Ryan got a lot of ink two years ago by toughening his pitching fingers in pickle juice or something. He's off the pickles now but still uses tincture of benzoin. Kid used his Series money to buy 100 acres in Gonzales, Texas, near his home town of Alvin. Still goes to Alvin Junior College in off season but guesses he won't become a vet now. By the way, think Nancy Seaver is cute? Get a look at Ruth Ryan sometime. A full 10 points.
So that's the opposition. At least part of it. The Cards promise to get tough, too, what with Allen hitting one or two home runs every day and Gibson starting to strike out people like he did in Philadelphia last week. Yeah, 16 of them. Billy Muffett says it's the hardest Gibson's thrown since 1968, but then we already know you can't trust what pitching coaches say. Anyway, we'll have a report on the Cards for you Cub fans real soon. Meantime, even though you know this year we're going to win for sure, let's try not to get too excited about it until after we've faced those Met pitchers for the last time. No point in waking 'em up. Right?