Moreover, Burns believes in one of Koosman's pet theories. To the younger pitchers, Koosman is like some sage old Indian medicine man. Wise Southpaw. "Kooz's idea at the start of a game," Burns says, "is that they haven't seen a real fastball for 24 hours, so at least the first time through the order, you go right at 'em."
Koosman—like Tidrow, who also pitched in the National League—believes that probably applies all the more in the American League, where, generally, more pussyfooting goes on. "It's a little bit of everything," Koosman says. "Like, in the National, for a while they even made you have an extra bat on deck so that if you broke one you wouldn't go back to the dugout. Or, you can't just demand time over there. You have to ask for it, and maybe the umpire won't let you have it. And, of course, the strike zone is up over here, so the pitches are up. More hits, more at bats." The whole tempo is simply more languid in the American and perhaps even more so with the Pale Hose, which suits T-Bone, who is by nature deliberate, by training a lawyer. One time this year the Sox and Brewers took a record four hours and 11 minutes to play nine innings. Ernie Banks would love being with these Sox; often they play two when it is only one.
American League pitchers go in for more teasing and probing than National League pitchers do. "I come in here with a runner on first," Tidrow says, "I might start off with a couple of slow curves. I do that in the National League, then I might well be throwing my third pitch with a runner on third."
A pitcher now in the Senior Circuit who has been in both leagues and thinks "Maybe I'll go back," requesting anonymity on that premise, maintains that National League umpires, generally, are pitchers' friends. Not only do they call the low strike, but they won't go easy on checked swings. "But most important," he says, "in the National, a batter can't take a two-strike pitch just off the corner. Over here, the umpires figure that very few hitters are good enough to lay off that kind of close pitch and call the game for them. Give the hitters that just off the black, pretty soon they'll want an extra six inches."
As a consequence, American League pitchers have a reputation for shaving things too fine—or as Pudge said of Burns about this particular game: "Britt was trying to throw perfect pitches." And the very next night, of Bannister, "He was too picky in the beginning. Every hitter, he's behind two and oh. And it's tough to get guys out when you start off two and oh."
T-Bone and Pudge may have had words earlier in the year about the way the veteran catcher called some games, but there is no question in the manager's mind which part of the battery must assume the major burden of responsibility for pitches thrown. "Don't tell me about the catcher's signs," he snaps. "Who's got the ball?"
Certainly by midseason, any pitcher and catcher working together should understand each other. Duncan, one of only four pitching coaches in the majors who was a catcher—"The advantage I have is, a pitcher never has to worry that I'm going to say to him, 'Now when I was pitching, here's the way I did it' "—prides himself on pitch selection. Pitchers who constantly overrule their catchers he calls "impulse pitchers," and, he says, "They blame the catcher, but what it really is, they just never get to know themselves well enough." Invariably, impulse pitchers are losers, he says.
Still: Who's got the ball? In the 3,471⅔ innings he's pitched, Koosman has only once or twice had "catchers argue with me with their fingers." Dotson, like Burns, is only 24, but he knows the way it has to be: "The pitcher has to do the calling. Sure, you win as a team, lose as a team, but your team loses, you're the only one they give the L to. You go out and get another newspaper, and it's still the same numbers."
Bannister, the other southpaw in The Rotation, is almost obsessively determined, even for a pitcher, to command his own destiny—as private a professional as he is a person. A devout man, happily introverted, Bannister studied engineering at Arizona State, and it is an ordered universe he pitches in. If only "Bannister's anger can be aroused," pleaded a Windy City paper. Not likely. Then it wouldn't be Bannister.
Second Baseman Julio Cruz, The Jumping Jack who also came over from Seattle to the Sox, shakes his head. "No, nothing ever upsets Banni," he says. "Well, cheap home runs. That would get to him, because it just wouldn't seem right to him the way they could yank a good pitch out of the dome, down in the corners. After a while, Banni just wouldn't throw inside in the Kingdome. He wasn't going to let them take him for a cheap one there." Bannister also has a reputation for taking himself out of a game if he feels his arm is in any way damaged—not right. He is as unforgiving of his own imperfections as of any other's in an imperfect game.