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But probably because Hoyt is a fat guy with scruffy hair, nobody much notices. He had the most wins in the league last year at All-Star time and didn't make the squad; he had the most wins for the season last year (19) and didn't get a single vote for the Cy Young. "Yeah, I'm just the Rodney Dangerfield of baseball," Hoyt says. "But the good part is, I can still hide in the bushes. And I've learned something too: To be good is one thing, but to be in the right place at the right time is another."
While nobody can Stay Around The Plate like Hoyt, Dotson's control improved as soon as the warm weather came, and that turned him around. He also tried hypnotism once. The Pale Hose keeps a hypnotist on the payroll.
"You know," Burns explained one day, "me and Pudge were talking about La Russa. T-Bone wasn't a good player himself, and he had to look for every edge for himself, which is good. Only some of us don't need every edge."
You mean, if you have enough talent?
"Yeah, with some people, edges might even get in the way."
But then, all skippers look for edges. That's why they're skippers. Koosman remembers the time he was playing for Gil Hodges, who had been a very good player. Koosman got stung on his pitching elbow by a line drive. Hodges came out to inquire if Koosman was O.K. "Yeah, I'm fine," he said, massaging it.
"All right," Hodges said. "Tell you what: Ask for one practice pitch, throw it up on the screen, then say you're fine." Which Koosman did, to the consternation of the next hitter, who then had to be shoved into the batter's box.
As for Dotson, after he was hypnotized, he gave up three runs in the first inning. "Not even a hypnotist can keep me from hanging a curve," he said.
But he won 9-7, which is an edge, and not an L, in any newspaper you can buy.
Two of the things that don't count for nearly as much as they used to are virginity and complete games. As La Russa says, "We don't pay off on complete games here." Of course, in most other places the banner of complete games must be kept waving. A CG remains a goal so that when pitchers fall short, as invariably they do, they will feel guilty and, as well, suffer one more black mark should they ever come to arbitration. Also, it is psychological. Tidrow, who used to be a starter, explains: "It's hard to tell a starting pitcher: give me six good innings, and then I'll get you out, because then the starter's liable only to think in terms of six and he won't go but four."