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On 5/29/2014 at 8:00 PM, daveo said:

Two articles on the "10 best pitchers of baseball" since 1960 or defined as "modern times".  10 best.  That is in comparison to what would be thousands of pitchers during that span.  Here is one of them

In both lists number 10 was Jim Palmer, a teammate of Brooksie.  The two lists have the same pitchers, though in different orders.

In any case Palmer was a superb pitcher and a character on that team.  He was a real star.  He was also an extraordinarily good looking man, who among other things modeled underwear!!!!  He was articulate, opinionated, and he had a history of arguing with Earl Weaver.  That made for interesting copy.     In these days, he is one of many teammates who lauds Brooks Robinson.

But Palmer was a tremendous star.  A star among stars, in fact.   

In more modern times with the way the game has changed its astonishing those Orioles of old with Palmer as one of some excellent pitching staffs, had a season where 4 starting pitchers each won 20 or more games.  That is astounding in today's world of baseball, during which there are seasons when nobody in either league wins 20 games.

The articles calls these the best pitchers in "modern times".  Well modern today with relief pitchers galore is different from modern than.    In any case Palmer was one more guy that made those teams special.   Really special.  

Great team to follow as a youth.

It's funny - back in 1970, I think that in many ways, I knew more about Major League Baseball than I know today. In my eyes, Dave McNally was the club's ace, followed by Jim Palmer and Mike Cuellar in no particular order. Put yourself in that time period: There was no internet, no "online stats," and only The Washington Post, Channel 13, my older brother, and a slew of baseball cards as resources to form an opinion - this was mine, when I was nine.

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Don:  Possibly your memory and what "scribes" might have written then just might jive.  McNally was older, more experienced and was a strong pitcher in his own right.  As of '70 Palmer was still a young dude.   

Anyway here is the lifetime short bio on Palmer from one of the two articles:

Quote

10. Jim Palmer (1965-1984), 3xCYA

Even before I was diagnosed with a severe case of Orioles' fever last year, I had a tremendous respect for Jim Palmer. He finished in the top 5 in Cy Young voting 8 times in his 19 seasons (all with Baltimore), winning the award 3 times. He pitched more than 300 innings 5 times (more than anyone else on this list) and pitched at least 20 complete games 4 times. His career 2.86 ERA pales in comparison to his 2.09 ERA in 1975, his beast season, in which he accumulated an impressive 8.1 WAR rating. He won 20 games 6 times. In short, the dude was a stud. He was the best pitcher on the Birds' 1971 staff, one of the all time great starting rotations. He also looks super good for 67 at the moment. Google him. It's impressive.

At around the same time you were first into baseball I was a college kid in Baltimore and as you described;  no internet;  channel 13 and occasionally a walk to old memorial stadium.  I'd read about the O's in the local press.

The thing that stands out in my memory about Palmer was that he was somewhat controversial and somewhat of a prima donna.  Not in the context of putting down teammates or in that way.   He would speak up and disagree with Earl Weaver, engage in real verbal battles with Weaver, and they were entertaining and funny.  Those verbal battles made the press;  they didn't stay inside the locker room.  

Those O's had great teams.  They had great pitching staffs with multiple good players.  They had a few true every day stars;  Chief among them were the Robinson boys;  Brooks and Frank.  Then they had other real good players, some would get all star years;  a bunch of role players, and a great manager that put them all together.  

They were very strong every single year, year in --year out.  A terrific team for the ages.

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2 hours ago, DonRocks said:

This gives some statistical backing to my vague memory:

Jun 17, 2013 - "Max Scherzer and Pitchers with the Longest Winning (Undefeated) Streaks to Start a Baseball Season" by Vin Getz on sportslistoftheday.com

Here are some other considerations.  McNally is older and started pitching in the bigs for the Orioles before Palmer; probably very early 60's.  McNally was the star and more established circa 68,69, 70, maybe 71, 72.  Also Palmer entered the bigs as a rookie midway in 65, had a great 66, then was injured and scarcely pitched in 67 and 68 and made a comeback in 69...and from then on was great.  

The 70's were Palmer's era.  Easily the best or one of the two or three best pitchers in major league ball during the entire decade virtually year after year.  Palmer is currently the all time Oriole pitcher based on full career.  McNally was better than Palmer for a period but then was surpassed by Palmer.  Palmer over his career is easily the premier pitcher for the Orioles.  

Referenced elsewhere it is noted that as good as Palmer was there are those who suggest he is overrated.  That is based on complex statistical data about defenses.  From about the mid 60's to the mid 70's the Orioles teams included Paul Blair at Center Field, Mark Belanger at SS, and Brooksie at 3rd.  Everyone acknowledges that Brooks Robinson is the all time greatest defensive 3rd baseman in the game.  Belanger and Blair. less well known, are each considered among the all time greatest defensive players at their positions...and that means SS and CF, and if you want to be good in defense that is where you need to be good.  

So from roughly the mid 60's to the mid 70's the Orioles had one of baseball's all time best defenses.  All time, all teams, all eras; well acknowledged.  Any Oriole pitcher of that era could have their all time credentials questioned.  They had vacuum cleaner defenses behind them.  I got to watch them during some of that period.  They caught a lot of balls, threw out a lot of runners, and prevented a lot of scores.  They did it consistently.  O's pitchers were fortunate!!!!!   

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1 hour ago, DaveO said:

Referenced elsewhere it is noted that as good as Palmer was there are those who suggest he is overrated.  That is based on complex statistical data about defenses.  From about the mid 60's to the mid 70's the Orioles teams included Paul Blair at Center Field, Mark Belanger at SS, and Brooksie at 3rd.  Everyone acknowledges that Brooks Robinson is the all time greatest defensive 3rd baseman in the game.  Belanger and Blair. less well known, are each considered among the all time greatest defensive players at their positions...and that means SS and CF, and if you want to be good in defense that is where you need to be good.  

Do you remember Palmer's rising fastball? If I remember correctly, that was his best strikeout pitch, and in today's game, it would be called a ball because it rose up to the hitter's shoulders.

Still, he had the honor of beating Sandy Koufax in the 1966 series, he won more games than any other pitcher in baseball in the 1970s, and he won 20+ games *8 out of 9 years*.

There's no question Palmer is the all-time Orioles' great pitcher, probably followed by Mike Mussina, who will find himself in the HOF one day (no pitcher in history with 100 more victories than losses *isn't* in the HOF). Mussina's problem is that he only spent half his career in Baltimore. This is an obscure statistic, but his 11-or-more victories in 17 consecutive seasons is the all-time AL record.

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10 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Do you remember Palmer's rising fastball? If I remember correctly, that was his best strikeout pitch, and in today's game, it would be called a ball because it rose up to the hitter's shoulders.

Still, he had the honor of beating Sandy Koufax in the 1966 series, he won more games than any other pitcher in baseball in the 1970s, and he won 20+ games *9 out of 10 years* (I included the link because that's such an unbelievable statistic that people will probably want to verify it themselves).

There's no question Palmer is the all-time Orioles' great pitcher, probably followed by Mike Mussina, who will find himself in the HOF one day (no pitcher in history with 100 more victories than losses *isn't* in the HOF).

(I'm doing back of the house type stuff at work--this conversation beats working).   

Nah, I watched Palmer.  I can't tell a rising fastball from anything.  Just can't tell that kind of thing from the stands, let alone at the plate.  Its easier for me to see things like that on a modern screen with those boxes covering the batters strike zone.  But I'll add this.

I watched the Orioles the most during the early to mid 70's.  Old Memorial Stadium.  The center of Baltimore City.  The series of years when the Orioles had their all time best teams and records and in the midst of a long streak of excellence.  Amazingly they had small crowds.  Maybe home attendance averaged around 12,000/game in a stadium that could hold 40,000+.  Lots of empty seats.  I was young and without much money.  Upper level seats were really inexpensive.  That is what I'd purchase along with my friends.  Frankly we added a lot of beers and some "weed".  Lets say vision was a bit obscured.  After a few innings we wander down to closer better more expensive seats.  It was always okay.  What was the difference.  I still couldn't tell the difference on pitches.  But I can't tell in person.  The question brings back a stark memory.  I've probably cited it before.

In high school one of my two best friends was a high school star pitcher.  He would have been one of the best in the state our senior year and he won a major college baseball scholarship.  Our team was good and we had a big game against another good team with a star pitcher.  That guy was reportedly better.  I later found out "that guy" the other pitcher made some "All New Jersey High School Baseball Stars of the 1900's".  A list of that sort. So the other guy had a career long remarkable record.

I watched that game.  I was sitting on the ground, really close; sort of foul ball territory and roughly across from the pitchers mound.  So I was close to those two pitchers with a great  view.  They had to be throwing at far slower than major league speed.  The two pitchers were mowing through batters.  In retrospect I suspect my friend was "in the zone".  Anyway some innings into the game some funky plays occurred the other guys got to my pal and they went on to win.  

I can tell you I couldn't tell the quality of pitching.   Sometime after the game I was speaking with a friend, our teams catcher.  He swore our friend, Don,  was blowing out the other pitcher.  His pitches were faster and his control of the corners was better....until he got knocked out of his zone.  But I couldn't tell.  Now I grew up playing stick ball against my friend, Don.  I could never hit him. Never.  I tried baseball at an age beyond little league.  Couldn't hit.  That was it.

Now KN.  I bet he could tell.  But not this guy.  

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15 minutes ago, DaveO said:

Nah, I watched Palmer.  I can't tell a rising fastball from anything.  Just can't tell that kind of thing from the stands, let alone at the plate.  Its easier for me to see things like that on a modern screen with those boxes covering the batters strike zone.  But I'll add this.
...
In high school one of my two best friends was a high school star pitcher.  He would have been one of the best in the state our senior year and he won a major college baseball scholarship.  Our team was good and we had a big game against another good team with a star pitcher.  That guy was reportedly better.  I later found out "that guy" the other pitcher made some "All New Jersey High School Baseball Stars of the 1900's".  A list of that sort. So the other guy had a career long remarkable record.I can tell you
...
I couldn't tell the quality of pitching.   Sometime after the game I was speaking with a friend, our teams catcher.  He swore our friend, Don,  was blowing out the other pitcher.  His pitches were faster and his control of the corners was better....until he got knocked out of his zone.  But I couldn't tell.  Now I grew up playing stick ball against my friend, Don.  I could never hit him. Never.  I tried baseball at an age beyond little league.  Couldn't hit.  That was it.

I should definitely add that the only reason I know about Palmer's rising fastball is because I watched 99% of my O's games on TV, and they had recently added a center-field camera to go along with the behind-the-plate camera; I can't tell in person either. By the time it hit the catcher's mitt, it was at the level of the hitter's head.

My days at 33rd Street could probably be counted on one hand, but how I loved parking (I guess it was my dad who usually took me), walking down 33rd street next to those old row houses, and there was the stadium - right in the middle of the neighborhood. When you approached the portal, and got that first glimpse of the green grass, it was like you were about to walk into heaven - there was nowhere in the world I would have rather been.

That said, when I first went to Camden Yards, I was absolutely blown away by how nice it was - it was the first modern stadium I'd ever been to, and I couldn't believe it.

Have you ever been to a batting cage? Hitting an 85mph pitch is nearly impossible - when it cranks up to 100mph, you can't even see it; you just hear it hitting the fence behind you as you start your swing.

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29 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

I should definitely add that the only reason I know about Palmer's fastball is because I watched 99% of my O's games on TV, and they had recently added a center-field camera to go along with the behind-the-plate camera; I can't tell in person either.

My days at 33rd Street could probably be counted on one hand, but how I loved parking (I guess it was my dad who usually took me), walking down 33rd street next to those old row houses, and there was the stadium - right in the middle of the neighborhood.

That said, when I first went to Camden Yards, I was absolutely blown away by how nice it was - it was the first modern stadium I'd ever been to, and I couldn't believe it.

Have you ever been to a batting cage? Hitting an 85mph pitch is nearly impossible - when it cranks up to 100mph, you can't even see it; you just hear it hitting the fence behind you as you start your swing.

I loved batting cages.  But I haven't been to one in a very long time.  I don't recall what speeds I could crank it up to.  It was never maximum. I spent a number of summers in Rehobeth.  There was batting cage there then.  I was a semi regular.  A friend owned a batting cage.  I was a semi regular there also.

Camden Yards is terrific.  I too enjoy it.  My orientation is different, partially from days at an uncrowded Memorial Stadium and other games including watching so closely while in High School, College and watching legion games similarly close.  I really enjoy watching baseball, both close up and less crowded which = minor leagues and/or spring training. I've watched both.  Ignoring the sizzle connected to big league games if its just to take in baseball in a day game, be able to sip a beer, eat a dog and take in the game...I'll go to a minor league game.  We are fortunate to have several teams within driving distance.    

And as to Memorial Stadium.  For much of that time period I could walk there.  The ideal night game was to stop off at a place called the Stadium Lounge which had some renown in Baltimore.  Honestly not good food.  But oh my they had humongous ham and cheese sandwiches on lousy rye bread.  The sandwiches were as wide as your mouth could open.  Slap on some mustard, add some National Bohs, everything was very inexpensive....Then stroll on over to watch the O's hit some homers, play great Dee, outpitch the opposition and take home a win.

Maybe KN or others will comment.  He knows this topic far better than me.  (and he can hit a pitch!!!!!)

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On 6/11/2016 at 0:26 PM, DonRocks said:

Do you remember Palmer's rising fastball? If I remember correctly, that was his best strikeout pitch, and in today's game, it would be called a ball because it rose up to the hitter's shoulders.        

I enjoyed this flowing conversation.  From the Orioles to Palmer, to pitching, to pitches to batting cages.   It stirred an old memory that I'll relate first.  The closest I ever watched pitchers was as mentioned above, from a very close position of a high school game and I recalled not being able to tell anything about the pitches.  It was the most I ever concentrated on watching pitches.  One of the two star pitchers was one of my best friends.  We became friends in kindergarten and probably played over 1000 different sporting games...maybe many thousands over many years; one on ones, on the same team, on opposite teams over decades.   Our friendship continued through college and beyond and we kept doing jockey stuff.

Before our marriages we joined a beach house in Rehobeth.  It would have been our late 20's.  We discovered the batting cage down there while scoping out all the things to do for the summer.   When we were down there together or if I was  there on my own...and for subsequent summers I put in many pleasurable hours at that batting cage...  Nice memory.  The other thing relevant to that guy and pitching...I must have played one on one stick ball against him 30, 50, 100 times.  Played with either those little pink balls or tennis balls.  I could never hit a stinking pitch.  NEVER.  

But more relevant to pitches and following them, the coincidence today was that a new student in the bar school was evidently a good college pitcher.  Not good enough to just get drafted but he feels he may get called up by a team.  I also know his dad.   Anyway I asked a bit about pitching...and about hitting.   Well he knows more about pitching...but here is what he said about hitting.

The best contact hitters have AMAZING hand eye coordination, tremendous eyesight, and then its practice practice practice, and keeping it simple.  Keep the swing simple.  Also they sometimes follow the ball out of the hand, and they have to choose to swing or not within the first 1/3 or 1/2 of the balls flight.  

Anyways on the baseball field I never made it past the great hand/eye coordination stage . :D

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