Congratulations to Tom Glavine on career win number 300. It was a really nice moment to witness as a Mets fan, and as a baseball fan. It was nice to see Glavine smiling at the end of the game in the dugout - it was like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders - and certainly this was a long time coming. Figure in his Mets career he's easily had 10 wins taken from him, certainly more, by the bullpen, or lack of offense. His last start, even. So he should be sitting at around 310 or more right now. But it's nice that he finally got to 300, and now the Mets can shift their focus to the march towards the post-season.
300 wins is a significant accomplishment. You need to be durable, which Glavine certainly has been, you need to be a little bit lucky, you need to be very good in order to take advantage of the luck, and you have to stick around for a long time. You don't back your way into 300 wins. There are some great names among the 23 300-game winners. But what's more significant is the names that aren't on the list - showing just how exclusive this club is.
It's very hard to be a dominant young pitcher and have the staying power to win 300 games. To wit: Dwight Gooden - no less than 15 wins in each of his first 5 seasons...but a total of 192 career wins (of course there were other distractions in his career - but that's another pitfall of early success, and another impediment on the way to 300).
You can be a good pitcher throughout your career, and still not come close to 300 - see: Orel Hershiser - 204 career wins.
How about being one of the most dominant pitchers of any era? Sandy Koufax, maybe? A short career resulting in just 165 wins. Bob Gibson? A longer career, netting 251.
All this to say, this is a very difficult thing to achieve, and it's even tougher to achieve in Glavine's era - with 5-man rotations and excessive use of the bullpen. And there's the question: Will anyone else reach 300 career wins? Randy Johnson is 16 wins away, but he's very hurt and he's 43 years old. To enter the club, you need to average 15 wins, if you play for 20 years (Glavine's in his 21st). That's ridiculous consistency. I'm not sure if any of the young pitchers playing now have that type of consistency in them....and I don't think many of them are able to stay healthy for as long as they need to in order to reach 300.
Barry Bonds will pass Hank Aaron - but he'll be passed some day. What we saw Sunday night out of Tom Glavine might not happen again in our lifetimes. It was a special achievement. One with a touch more history than I think we're all realizing right now.
MAGIC NUMBER: I don't think it's too early. We're looking at a magic number of 47 (that's Mets wins combined with losses by, right now, the Phillies and Braves), with 51 games remaining in the season.
SLOWNESS: While The Wife and I were watching our chances in the 'New Baseball Pool' slip away this weekend (a Cardinals sweep by the Nationals), we saw Dmitri Young get nailed at the plate by a good ten feet on an excellent throw from the outfield...but also a poor decision by the third base coach. The Wife's take? "Man, I'm faster than him." The Wife, it should be noted, is one of the slowest people I know.
MATCHUP: The Mets play the Braves at Shea starting Tuesday night - Oliver Perez owns the Braves, he pitches Tuesday against '60's folk artist Buddy Carlyle (really - that's the Braves' pitcher's name).