King Kaufman’s Sports Daily

300-game-winner Tom Glavine: Last of a dying breed? Don't be so sure.

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Thoughts on a pet peeve while waiting for Barry Bonds to break a record that a lot of people thought would never be broken — which replaced a record that a lot of people thought would never be broken.

Tom Glavine of the New York Mets won his 300th game Sunday night, and there was talk that we might never again see a 300-game winner in the major leagues.

It’s true, we might never see another 300-game winner. We might never see another light bulb. Almost anything might be true if you put the word “might” in there. But it’s a pet peeve of mine that this idea is so common, that boy, we’re not likely to see this sort of thing again, whatever this thing is.

If you learn nothing else watching baseball, you ought to learn this by the time you’ve watched one generation turn over: If you keep watching, you’ll probably see it. Name your own “it.”

When Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-games streak there was a fair amount of coverage that in one breath laughed at the generations that had said Gehrig’s ironman streak would never be touched, then in the next proclaimed that Ripken’s record was beyond reach for future players.

The game had changed, the thinking went. There just weren’t any more old-school guys like Ripken who’d go out there and play through injuries, never take a day off. Players made too much money, had grown too soft.

Of course, if you’d cared to, you could have heard people saying these things in the late ’70s, when Ripken’s streak stood at zero because he was in high school.

Now we’re hearing, from the Associated Press and others, that the game has changed, that we aren’t likely to see anyone else join the 300-win club.

The four-man rotation is dead, we’re being reminded, even though Glavine has pitched in a five-man rotation his entire career. Pitch counts and the current offensive era means pitchers come out of games earlier — as if this offensive era, unlike all the others in baseball history, will never end.



Nobody who’s within shouting distance of 300 wins is likely to get there. Randy Johnson has 284, but he’s 44 and just had back surgery. Mike Mussina has 246, but he’s 38 and slowing down. Everybody else who’s active and has more than 200 wins also needs at least 65 to get to 300 and is either in his 40s or is 35 and named Pedro Martinez. It’s not going to happen for any of those guys.

So all right, we’re not going to see anybody win No. 300 soon, and any pitcher you want to name is unlikely to get to 300. Then again, Tom Glavine was unlikely to get to 300 once upon a time. Every pitcher who ever got to 300 wins was unlikely to get to 300 wins when he only had 11 of them. Or even 111.

But there are plenty of guys with a shot. All sorts of things have to come together for any of them to make it, but all sorts of things had to come together for the 23 men who have made it. Tom Glavine has never been on the disabled list.

Justin Verlander of Detroit, to pull a name out of the hat, is 24 years old and has won 28 games. He’s a thousand miles of bad road from 300 wins and it’s insane to consider his chances of getting 272 more W’s. Then again, a week into August of Glavine’s age-24 season, which was 1990, Glavine had won 29 games.

Verlander’s teammate Jeremy Bonderman is also 24. He’s got 55 wins. Ervin Santana of the Los Angeles Angels is another 24-year-old. His recent efforts bought him a ticket to the minors, but he has still won four more games in 18 fewer starts than Glavine at the same point in his age-24 season.

Twenty-five-year-old Dontrelle Willis of Florida, for all his struggles, has 65 wins, eight more than Glavine had at the same point in his age-25 season.

Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs, Jake Peavy of San Diego and C.C. Sabathia of Cleveland are all in their age-26 seasons. Glavine had 69 wins at this point of the schedule when he was 26. Sabathia has 95, Zambrano 78, Peavy 68. Sabathia actually turned 27 two weeks ago. Glavine’s birthday is in the off-season, but two weeks into his age-27 season, he had 76 wins, 19 fewer than Sabathia has now.

Felix Hernandez of Seattle is 21 and has 23 wins. Glavine wasn’t in the majors yet at the same age. Matt Cain of San Francisco is 22 and has 18 wins, 13 more than Glavine had at a similar point in his career.

Are any of these guys going to win 300? Any one of them almost certainly won’t. The group of them probably won’t, but will somebody who’s playing or about to be playing? Could be.

Once you get past the dead-ball era, 300-game winners come along a little more than once a decade. Only 12 men whose careers started after the 1920s have won 300. It seems like nobody who’s around now can do it because hardly anybody ever does it.

But that doesn’t mean we’ll never see it again. Check back in 10 or 15 years. I bet we’ll have some candidates.

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