Andy Pettitte added a nice little note to his Hall of Fame resume over the weekend, racking up his 250th career win after throwing 7.1 solid innings in the New York Yankees’ 3-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
As with any pitching milestone of its type, Pettitte’s achievement has re-ignited the debate over whether or not we will ever again see a pitcher reach the 300-win mark that has long been considered an automatic ticket to Cooperstown. Pitchers seem to be throwing fewer pitches in fewer innings than ever before, and it seems like not a week goes by where some hot new phenom breaks down well before his time due to some random arm ailment.
But I’m here to tell you that we will see more players who win 300 games, as the single biggest component in whether or not a player can hit the milestone has not changed.
Compared to the NFL and NBA, the MLB Draft garners very little attention from the casual sports fan. While interest has grown over the past decade, most fans still do not realize that the Draft will be conducted over a three-day period starting this Thursday.
Because of the relative lack of attention, most fans are unaware of the many, many great stories that the MLB Draft has provided since it was implemented in 1965. Heck, I myself did not realize that the San Diego Padres passed on Justin Verlander in 2004 in favor of Matt Bush, who never set foot in an MLB clubhouse as a member of the team.
That story ranks right up there with three of the most famous top-pick tales in MLB Draft history:
1966: Mets help build dynasty in Oakland
As the MLB Draft nears, many sportswriters are bemoaning the fact that baseball’s event is not nearly the extravaganza of the NFL and NBA Drafts. Many are wondering if baseball needs to make big changes in order to keep up with the Joneses, proposing everything from moving the draft from June to eliminating sections of professional ball in order to get draftees to the pros at a faster rate.
But the simple truth about this issue is that there are too many structures in place to ever make the MLB Draft as popular as those for the NFL and NBA.
And that’s a good thing.
MLB has the best talent development system in all of sports.
One of the biggest reasons that the MLB Draft does not garner the same level of attention as the drafts in other sports is because, with few exceptions, MLB draftees do not make an immediate impact in the Big Leagues. Draftees must first make it through the Minor Leagues, proving their worth in as many as five different levels of competition before they can ever set foot in an MLB stadium.
Why is this a bad thing?
By now, we’ve all seen the horrific footage of Toronto Blue Jays pitcher A.J. Happ getting hit in the head with a line drive during last Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Happ suffered a fractured skull, but he has since been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
As with any line drive to the mound, Happ’s injury has reignited the debate over whether or not pitchers should be wearing protective headgear while on the mound. Quite frankly, I don’t see why either the MLBPA or owners are debating the issue. MLB has long had a rule requiring hitters to wear helmets in the batter’s box to protect against beanballs to the temple, and the risk of such injuries to the pitcher is actually even greater.
Pitchers are just as close to the hitter as hitters are to the pitchers.
For the second time in four years, divisional realignment is coming to the Big Ten.
In preparation for the arrival of Maryland and Rutgers, the Big Ten has announced a new divisional format that will kick in for the 2014 season. Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutgers form the Eastern Division, while Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin make up the Western division.
The new alignment emphasizes geography over historic balance, and it also does a fairly good job of preserving the conference’s many historic rivalries. The league will also transition to a nine-game league schedule in 2016, and with the exception of Indiana-Purdue, all of the permanent cross-divisional rivalries have been eliminated.
Some thoughts on the Big Ten’s realignment plan:
1. No more Legends and Leaders Divisions.