- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
For 45 games (beginning on June 12), the Cincinnati starters did not complete a single game. Not one. This was unheard of in those days. No team had ever gone that long without a starter going the distance. It was so startling that even Reds fans booed Sparky when he walked out to the mound. Anderson used 133 pitchers to get the Reds through those 45 games. They called him Captain Hook.
But ... the Reds won 32 of the 45 games. Sparky had basically invented a new way to use a bullpen by mixing and matching talents. The pitchers hated it, the fans hissed, but by the time rookie Pat Darcy finally broke the streak with a complete game on a blistering hot July 30, the Reds led the division by a staggering 13½ games. They would clinch on Sept. 7. (So overwhelming was the heat on that July day, by the way, that fans were fainting in the stands. When told this, Darcy said, "Really? Over a complete game?")
In time, every manager would become Captain Hook. The complete game is now a precious antique—there were only 72 in more than 2,500 National League starts this year. But whenever it was suggested to Sparky that he was ahead of his time, he would wave his hand in dismissal.
"You know what makes a good manager?" he would say. "Good players." Of course, Anderson had good players. But few have ever been better at making good players great.
"He was like a psychiatrist or something," Rose said. When asked if he needed a psychiatrist when he was playing, Rose smiled and said, "All good ballplayers need a psychiatrist."
Now on SI.com
For more columns by Joe Posnanski, go to SI.com/posnanski