The Earl of Baltimore

Weaver on umpires: “Some have said that I can accept inadequacies in my players but not in umpires. That completely misses the point. I can’t tolerate anyone’s mistake.”

– Earl Weaver in “Weaver on Strategy” (with Terry Pluto).

 


 

In all the years I have known the marvelous umpire Steve Palermo, I have never once heard him say Earl Weaver’s name. He would talk about Weaver quite often but always called him “that little …” The ellipses represented any number of charming adjectives. Well, you know — Earl Weaver was one of the great managers the game has ever known, and he was also quite nasty to umpires. Nasty but brilliant. Palermo always concedes the brilliant part.

On August 16, 1979, Palermo was umpiring third base when Kansas City’s Frank White tried to steal home. He was called out but Palermo overruled the call and said Baltimore pitcher Dennis Martinez had balked. Weaver went bonkers. He raced on the field, argued with everyone, kept sticking his finger in Palermo’s face — it looked to reporters that the two were very close to getting into a fight — and then Weaver put the game under protest.

“He’s just a young punk,” Weaver growled to those reporters after the game. And then he said this to the Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell: “I question his integrity, but I respect the umpire’s uniform — otherwise, he might be dead.”

“Earl is bizarre,” Palermo said from the umpire’s locker room, and then to Boswell: “Weaver walks around with a block of granite on his shoulder. He’s a pest, an insult to baseball, a clown that goes under the guise of a manager.”

Then, it was another umpire — Jim Evans — who offered the classic: “(Weaver) is baseball’s son of Sam.”

Two days later, on August 18, 1979, Palermo was umpiring first base and called Mark Belanger out on a checked-swing. Weaver emerged from the dugout. Palermo tossed him from the game. “I think I know what Palermo’s problem is,” Weaver said after the game. “About the fifth inning of every game, he needs a diaper change.”

Palermo never did forgive Weaver for being Weaver. His fury … his insults … his bullying … his lack of even basic respect … these things Palermo simply could not abide. He would never say the name. But Weaver’s genius for baseball, yes, Palermo loves baseball too much not to admire that. Palermo and Weaver ran into each other now and again after they both left the field and the conversations were surprisingly civil. Not warm. But civil.

One time, Weaver actually talked to Palermo about writing a book about baseball rules together. Palermo laughed. “There’s no way we would both survive,” he said.

 


 

Weaver on outs: “There are only three an inning, and they should be treasured. It’s such a basic fact that fans sometimes forget it, but an inning doesn’t last 15 minutes or six batters or 20 pitches; it lasts three outs. Give one away and you’re making everything harder for yourself.”

– Weaver on Strategy

 


 

Weaver had this sign he would post in the clubhouse that read: “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” The funny thing is I’m not sure how much we’ve learned about baseball since Earl Weaver managed the Baltimore Orioles from 1968 to 1982.

Take Michael Lewis’ magnificent book “Moneyball.” I don’t think any baseball book has been more misread or misunderstood than Moneyball, but I would guess here are five things most people took away from it:

  1. The walk is under appreciated — on-base percentage matters more than batting average.
  2. The use of the bunt often goes against the most basic tenet of offense which is that outs are your most precious commodity.
  3. The running game only makes sense if you are successful a very high percentage of the time.
  4. it doesn’t matter what a player looks like or how talented he appears to be, it only matters what that player can produce on the field.
  5. Baseball is largely a game of group think and that one way to beat the game is to think differently.

Moneyball is much more than those five ideas … but those five ideas dominate much of the talk of baseball these days. And those five ideas were probably better expressed and utilized by Earl Weaver than anyone in the history of the game.

Going through them one-by one.

 


 

Weaver on walks: “It sounds like a little thing, but a walk can win a game.”

– Weaver on Strategy

  1. The walk? Earl Weaver loved the walk. Well he famously loved the three-run homer — “On a home run,” he would say, “nothing can go wrong” — and how else were you going to get two guys on base before the home runs? Walks, right?

Every single year from 1968 to 1982, Earl Weaver’s Baltimore Orioles drew more walks than they allowed. Over the 15 years, they drew 1,665 more walks than their opponents — 111 more per season. There are individual stories that tell the tale. Don Buford showed no particular expertise for plate discipline — he had an ordinary .335 on-base percentage — when the Orioles and Weaver traded for him in 1967. “Walk!” Weaver ordered, and Buford’s on-base percentage jumped 50 points over the next five years — one year he walked 100 times.

Of course, Weaver didn’t just yell “Walk” at Buford. He realized Buford had a great eye and a talent for getting on base. He cultivated it. He made Buford his full-time leadoff hitter and made it clear that his job was purely to get on base. Buford did and he scored exactly 99 runs three straight years — the last of those he led the league in runs.

Oh, Weaver loved the walk. In 1982, he gave 185 plate appearances to a man named Glenn Gulliver. Nobody could figure out why. Gulliver hit .200 with no power and no speed. But Gulliver could walk, and he did walk — his on-base percentage was a healthy .363 despite that .200 batting average. Weaver often thought playing Gulliver was one of his smartest decisions. Well, Weaver in the minor leagues had a talent for drawing a walk — one of his few talents — and he never stopped believing in its importance.

 


 

Weaver on the bunt: : “I’ve got nothing against the bunt — in its place. But most of the time that place is the bottom of a long-forgotten closet.”

– Weaver on Strategy

  1. The bunt? There has probably never been a manager in baseball history who was more openly and publicly hostile to the bunt than Weaver. He hated it, and I think there are a couple of reasons why. First, he was thoroughly opposed to giving up outs — as he himself said outs were to be treasured.

Second, though, is something a little more subtle: Weaver did not like to interfere with the game. Oh, he was a heavy-handed manager in many ways. He platooned like crazy, and he pinch-hit like crazy and, of course, he got thrown out of more games than any manager of his time (97 times).

But that’s not what I mean. Weaver didn’t bunt. He didn’t hit-and-run. He didn’t intentionally walk. He let his pitchers work out of their own jams for the most part, and generally trusted his his hitters hit away. He famously said he probably didn’t say 30 words to Frank or Brooks Robinson, and while that’s obviously an exaggeration, it’s probably not much of one. He saw the manager’s job as being the one who set the lineup and arranged the team and put players in the best position to succeed. And he saw the players’ job to play.

He would say that a manager should be the one to argue with an umpire “because it won’t hurt the team if he gets thrown out of the game.” It’s a funny line, but I think he meant it and he managed that way. Managers manage. Players play. The bunt was an affront to him because it was ordered from the bench. Let the players win the game.

 


 

Weaver on team speed: “Team speed for Christ’s sake. You got bleeping’ bleep bleep little fleas on the bleeping’ bases getting picked off, trying to steal, getting thrown out, taking runs away from you. You get some big bleep bleepers that can hit the bleeping ball out of ballpark and you can’t make any bleep bleeping mistakes.”

– Earl Weaver doing a prank version of “Manager’s Corner” with Tom Marr.

  1. Stolen bases? Weaver may have been joking when he made his famous “bleeping bleep little fleas” comment. But he wasn’t really joking. That’s exactly how he felt about the running game — it only made sense if you were successful 75% of the time. And Weaver never really thought his guys could be successful that often.

 


 

Weaver on faith: When Pat Kelly told him it was great to walk with the Lord , Weaver said, “I’d rather you walk with the bases loaded.”

– Widely attributed.

  1. What is a player supposed to look like? Billy Beane would say, “We’re not modeling jeans.” Weaver would pick up players who looked incomplete to everyone else and find ways to take advantage of their strengths. In 1979, for instance, he had a 34-year-old Pat Kelly, who had kicked around for a decade, who was on his fourth team, who was about at the end. He also had a 32-year-old John Lowenstein, who had also kicked around for about a decade and had only been an everyday player once. He had a 32-year-old Terry Crowley, who had never played 100-games in a season, a a 35-year-old defensive legend named Mark Belanger, a 28-year-old Benny Ayala and so on.

Well, here’s what he knew about Pat Kelly: Guy can hit with power against right-handed pitchers.

So, he gave Kelly 177 plate-appearances — 164 of them against righties — and the guy banged nine homers and slugged .536 for him.

Lowenstein? Crushes righties. He got 215 of his 232 plate appearances against righties and he hit 11 homers and slugged. 500.

Belanger? Couldn’t hit. At all. But could still play a brilliant shortstop. He played 101 games — but only 40 of them were full games. He started and was pinch-hit for in 14 games. And he came in a defensive replacement in 47 games.

Ayala? He could hit lefties pretty well. He had 85 of his 94 plate appearances against lefties and slugged .513.

This gets at the heart of Weaver — he didn’t care what the player looked like or, more to the point, he did not let a players’ weaknesses define him. The player is the player. The manager is the one who has to figure out how to get the most out of his. The 1979 Orioles went to the World Series.

By the way, the Pat Kelly “walk with the bases loaded” line is probably Weaver’s most famous statement on faith, but I always preferred the time Al Bumbry, in the middle of a slump, told Weaver he was going to chapel. “Take your bat,” Weaver said.

 


 

Weaver on some of baseball’s most cherished ideas.

On momentum winning games: “Momentum is tomorrow’s pitcher.”

On small ball: “If you play for one run, that’s all you’ll get.”

On the five-man rotation: “The starts you give to your fifth-best starter are taken away from the four who are better than him.”

On inspiration: “I had to say to (Steve) Stone: ‘You’re a loser. You were a loser before you got here. If you want to shut your mouth and do what I tell you, you’ll become a winner.”

On big bullpens: “Ten pitchers are too many … I believe the last regular player will help you win more than a tenth pitcher.”

On treating stars like stars: “Every time (Jim) Palmer reads about a new ailment, he seems to get it. … Someone once asked me if I had any physical incapacities of my own. Know what I answered? ‘Sure I do,’ I said. ‘One big one: Jim Palmer.’”

– Weaver on Strategy, Danielle Gagnon Torrez’s “High Inside: Memories of a Baseball Wife,” and widely attributed.

 


 
  1. Groupthink? Weaver didn’t care. He was pretty confident that most people didn’t know what the heck they were talking about when it came to baseball. When the world went to the five-man rotation, he was sure that a four-man rotation was better. When managers bunted and played small-ball, he was sure that his strategies would win out more often than not. While baseball may be a copy cat game — while sports might be a copy cat game … while LIFE might be a copy cat game — Weaver was an original and he stayed an original.

He was one of the first to really embrace the radar gun as a way to judge pitchers. But unlike so many, he didn’t care so much if a pitcher threw 92 or 95 or 99. He was interested in the difference between a pitchers fastball and his change-up (he thought there needed to be a 10 mph gap at least). He was interested in telling his hitters what kind of pitches they should expect. The radar gun would later become a tool for every team and scout — “a crutch” is what one scouting friend of mine calls it — but Weaver was among the first, and Weaver looked at it with creativity and ingenuity.

Probably his most famous against-the-world risk was making Cal Ripken a shortstop. He was Cal Ripken Jr. then, and he was 6-foot-4, and if there’s one thing everybody knew about baseball it was that 6-foot-4 men did not play shortstop. Ripken had played third mostly in the minors, and he looked like a third baseman, and when he began the 1982 season he was a third baseman. Nobody but nobody seemed to think he had the dexterity or quickness to play short.

Weaver decided on July 1, 1982 that he was a shortstop. There were some serious doubters — though the doubts were interrupted, as they often were in the Earl’s career, by a seven-game Weaver’s suspension — but he didn’t care. He never cared. He saw Ripken as a shortstop. So Ripken played shortstop. You might know — he played there a lot time.

Then there’s the whole story with the DH. You probably know this — there’s a rule on the books that states that a DH in the starting lineup has to bat at least once (unless the opposing team changes pitchers before the DH’s first at-bat). This is because Weaver for a while wrote in pitcher Steve Stone as his DH every day, then before he came up Weaver would pinch-hit him with either a righty or lefty specialist, depending who was on the mound. Baseball didn’t like it, thought it was against the spirit of the DH (and would make a mess of the pinch-hitting statistics) and they added that little rule. Weaver thought the new rule was dumb and, more to the point, only written to prevent him from managing his team. He’s probably right about that.

The point remains: He rebelled against convention all his baseball life.

 


 

On my tombstone, just write “The sorest loser who ever lived.”

– To Thomas Boswell on his retirement in 1986.

Earl Weaver only won one World Series. This was just the way it went — his Orioles were beaten by the Miracle Mets in 1969, by the Clemente Pirates in 1971 and by the “We Are Family” Pirates in 1979. Well, like Billy Beane, you could say that his stuff didn’t work as well in the postseason. It’s interesting, Weaver probably explained the phenomenon best in an interview with Christina Kahrl … they were discussing how much people still misunderstand the basic premise that outs are precious. Weaver said something fascinating: “Not only managers misunderstand it, players do too. A manager has to convince his hitters that they have to get on base for the next guy, and that no player can do it himself. That isn’t easy. In the playoffs you can get into trouble because everybody wants to be a hero.”

Well, Weaver was about the long season. His Orioles won four pennants … and they won 97-plus games three other times. His teams finished first or second 12 times in his 15 years as manager of the Orioles (not counting the ill advised year and a half when he returned in the mid-1980s). He managed six Hall of Famers — guiding Brooks and Frank Robinson through the twilights of their careers, Jim Palmer through the peak of it, Ripken and Eddie Murray trough their early days and Reggie Jackson for one memorable year.

Twenty-two of his pitchers won 20-plus games including that famed “loser before you got here” Steve Stone. Thirty three times a player hit 20-plus homers for him. As mentioned, his teams always drew more walks than their opponents and yet, counterintuitively, every year from 1968 to 1981, the Orioles turned more doubles plays than they hit into. Even more counterintuitively, they did this almost entirely without bunting or using the hit-and-run. Weaver stressed great infield defense and let his hitters swing away … he didn’t care if everyone hit-and-run to “avoid the double play.”

One of the great and under appreciated stories about Earl Weaver is the Steve Dalkowski story. You probably know that Dalkowski, according to legend, threw harder than any man who ever lived. He also was preposterously wild — Nuke LaLoosh from “Bull Durham” essentially pitched like Dalkowski, who once struck out 262 and walked 262 in a minor league season.

Unlike Nuke, though, Dalkowski had no Crash Davis to settle him down. He was, best I can tell from Baseball Reference, 19-52 with a 7.07 ERA and had walked 1,022 batters in 537 innings when he went to play for Earl Weaver in Elmira in 1962. Weaver would always say that Dalkowski threw harder than Koufax or Ryan or anyone else he ever saw, but he convinced him to take just a little off the fastball and to forget about all those other crazy pitches. “The more you talked to Dalkowski, the more confused he became.”

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. Dalkowski didn’t exactly become Bob Tewsksbury. But for the first time in his minor league career he had fewer walks (114) than innings pitched (160). He struck out 192, and was often unhittable (even throwing a no-hitter one night) and he had a 3.04 ERA. It was his first bit of pitching success.

The next year, he started in Elmira with Weaver again and pitched well again with a 2.79 ERA and more strikeouts than walks. Then he went to Rochester and mostly fell apart. He had one more half season of success when he was demoted to Class A for a while in 1964. Other than that, though, his only real success came under the managing of Earl Weaver.

And that’s probably pretty telling. There weren’t many people who played for Weaver who liked him. JIm Palmer, his most famous pitcher and target, used to say the only thing Weaver knew about pitching was he couldn’t hit it. There wasn’t a single umpire who dealt with him and liked him — Ron Luciano threw Weaver out seven times, once before the game even started. There weren’t many opposing manager or players or fans who liked him.

But, they all understood his genius for baseball. Earl Weaver was 82 years old when he died early Saturday morning while on the Orioles Fantasy Cruise. He worked his way up in the game. His father was a dry cleaner and so young Earl got close to the game by bringing in clean uniforms from the clubhouse and taking out dirty ones. He sold cars. He worked as a loan officer. He tried to make it as a player, failed pretty miserably, and worked his way up through 11 years of minor league managing. He brought to the major leagues some of his own ideas, developed some more, platooned like mad, smoked between innings, screamed at his players, went after the umpires, and waited, just waited, for the three-run homer .

And for Earl Weaver, the three-run homer happened often enough that the sorest loser who ever lived won at a higher percentage than any manager of the last 50 years. I guess you could say, this was Earl Weaver’s faith. He always believed the three-run homer would come.

33 thoughts on “The Earl of Baltimore

  1. daveyhead

    I saw on the ESPN crawl that Weaver died and came here, hoping you had something up. Glad you did.

    Weaver sounds like he was hard to like but he sure was good at what he did. Everytime the Yanks give up a run with a sac bunt I gnash my teeth, and I have wondered FOR YEARS why a four man rotation was good enough for over a hundred years but isn’t now.

    Thanks for this informative, funny and respectful piece, Joe.

    Reply
    1. Dinky

      For a hundred year, the four man rotation prospered with only 16 major league teams, 64 starting pitchers. Even then, lots and lots of guys broke down trying to pitch 250 innings a year, but we don’t remember them. The guys we remember from a hundred years ago were the best.

      I picked a year at random. The 1941 Brooklyn Dodgers won the NL, so you would assume they had a pretty good pitching staff. And at the top, they did. Two pitchers won 2+ games while throwing 288+ innings. But only one other pitcher managed 162 innings for that pennant winning team. 13 pitchers started one or more game. They lost the World Series to (who else) the Yankees. You’d also think the Yankees would have a good rotation. But no pitcher won over 15 games or threw 210 innings. Nine pitchers started at least one game for them. Seven pitchers started at least fourteen games.

      Earl Weaver was a great manager, but he overused his pitchers. Picking a year he managed also at random, the one year he won the World Series, he had five pitchers start 19 or more games, because he really only had three guys who could handle loads of nearly 300 innings. In the 1970s, if you had a four man rotation, then four guys would start 40 games, with two starts to spare. Yet for the entire 1970s, Earl Weaver had three seasons with a pitcher making 40 starts (not 41): Palmer once, Mike Flanagan once, Ross Grimsley once. And Grimsley broke down. After his 40 start ERA+ 112 season under Weaver at age 24, he had exactly one more season as a positive pitcher (ERA+ over 100) and really was never the same, -2.2 WAR for the rest of his career after 40 starts. That’s the norm. Palmer and the four man rotation is the exception.

      We tend to remember the guys who could handle 300 innings, because 300 innings tends to lead to lots of victories, lots of strikeouts, and if you can keep it up, lots of counting numbers that get you into the Hall of Fame. But how many starters are in the HoF? Not many, compared to the number of pitchers that start for a while and then are replaced.

      We use a five man rotation now because 15 seasons of 2+ WAR is a lot better than two or three and burning out. It’s better for the pitchers, it’s better for the team, it’s better for baseball.

      Reply
  2. Kansas City

    Joe can sure write interesting stuff for baseball fans. I never paid much attention to Weaver, but he sounds like an interesting guy. I pause about guys who are meaner than they need to be, but what the heck, it is just a game. RIP Mr. Weaver.

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  3. Gary

    The first Major League game I attended was Baltimore at Chicago in 1975. There are a number of things I remember about that game: Brooks Robinson at third, Jim Kaat starting for the White Sox and pitching almost as soon as the catcher threw the ball back to him, Goose Gossage coming on in relief and throwing harder than I thought possible.

    Then in bottom of the ninth inning, Brian Downing hit a two-run homer to tie the game. The ball hit the top of the wall and bounced into the seats but there was some question about whether it should be a homer or a ground rule double.

    Earl Weaver sprinted onto the field to argue with the second base umpire who had ruled the homer but the ump (Armando Rodriguez) had a limited English vocabulary, so Weaver had to call Elrod Hendricks in from the bullpen to interpret for him. I remember that you could almost see the steam rising from Weaver’s ears that he had to wait to argue his case, with a man who probably wouldn’t understand his insults.

    The Orioles went on to lose the game in very un-Weaverlike fashion, on a walk to Pat Kelly followed by a double by Jorge Orta.

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  4. Mark Daniel

    Wow, this is a great post, and more impressive with the timing.
    I think it’s funny how Weaver felt about Jom Palmer. It reminds me of Billy Matin and Reggie Jackson, or the Red Sox and Manny Ramirez. Weaver managed to live with Palmer for almost his entire career, so I suppose he deserves credit for that.

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    1. Rob Smith

      The issue was that Palmer’s arrogance was matched only by Weaver’s. They both thought they knew it all, which didn’t sit well with the other. Palmer was clearly the best pitcher Weaver ever had, however, so I don’t understand why he couldn’t shut up and tolerate Palmer’s ego…. at least publicly, like most managers do.

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    2. Mark

      No, I don’t think it is anything like Martin/Jackson. Martin was an unstable person who HATED Reggie Jackson. Palmer and Weaver never had a relationship remotely like that. Heck, when it was all over the two collaborated on a book. Sure, they bitched and moaned at each other but Palmer took the ball every 4th day.

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    3. fivetwentyone

      checking retrosheet it looks like stone DH’ed 12 times at the end of 1980 and in none of the 12 was the opposing starter pulled before he came to bat. Apparently he did it most often with Stone, but with the other starters during Sep./ Oct. 1980 also. I dont see any instances where the opposing starter had been pulled for those cases either. which is not to say it’s not a cool idea.

      September 16, 1980 is an interesting one, playing Detroit, Mark Fidrych is penciled in as DH for Detroit. so at least one other manger imitated the idea (although possibly mocking Weaver I guess).

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    4. Fred Bellemore

      With regard to the DH-pitcher issue…My memory fails me on the exact game (it is out there somewhere on Retrosheet) — but sometime in the late 1970s there was a game (Cleveland maybe, some 3/4-empty stadium somewhere) when the opponent’s starting pitcher was removed before he had thrown a pitch (claiming injury, but Weaver wasn’t buying it)…What pissed Earl off was that the opponent’s manager replaced the named starting with a guy who threw with the opposite hand…So Weaver had submitted the lineup with, like, 3-4 platoons in it (maybe Billy Smith or Dauer at 2b, Lowenstein or Roenicke in LF, and maybe, Kelly and Ayala at DH, and suddenly, he’s facing a guy throwing the other hand…Well, now the replacement pitcher gets unlimited time to throw because of the injury, which gives Weaver even extra time to scream and he understandably asks to re-submit the line-up card….Well, the ump said no…so from THAT POINT ON, weaver vowed never to get taken in by this trick, at least for the DH position which he could control…So the reason he’d put the previous game’s starting pitcher as the DH was in case this ever happened again…

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    5. Unknown

      Don’t know where the idea came from that he supposedly DH’d Steve Stone.

      The pitcher he used for that purpose was the guy who started yesterday’s game.

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  5. Grulg

    Whats funny about that great 28-6 rush in Sept ’74 izzat the players basically decided to manage themselves, as Weavers’ efforts thru Aug 29th gave them a 63-65 record, 8 back in 4th. They wound up winning a gazzillion 1-0 games and overtook the plummeting Sox and charging Yanks. Weaver might have denied it but the players supposedly done it theirselves. Who knows?

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  6. rastronomicals

    Could someone explain the Steve Stone DH thing to me? I’m sure it’s me, but I don’t understand. Weaver knew who the opposing starting pitcher would be before the game, so if he had interest in using a handed specialist as DH, he’d know which hand he was gonna need, even as he was writing Steve Stone’s name in. So why the rigmarole?

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    1. Rob Smith

      If the pitcher got pulled early, he could go to either a right or lefthanded specialist without having to pinch hit and waste a player. That said, how often would a pitcher get pulled without facing the DH position? It probably didn’t happen often unless there was an injury or a complete, can’t throw a strike, meltdown.

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    2. Mark

      Yep, righty starts the game, gets knocked out after facing 4 batters, lefty comes in, Weaver pinch hits for Stone with a righty.

      I know he did this (wrote Stone’s name in the lineup) but I don’t think the opposing starter was ever knocked out before the DH came up. Still, quite a neat bit of strategy.

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    3. fivetwentyone

      checking retrosheet it looks like stone DH’ed 12 times at the end of 1980 and in none of the 12 was the opposing starter pulled before he came to bat. Apparently he did it most often with Stone, but with the other starters during Sep./ Oct. 1980 also. I dont see any instances where the opposing starter had been pulled for those cases either. which is not to say it’s not a cool idea.

      September 16, 1980 is an interesting one, playing Detroit, Mark Fidrych is penciled in as DH for Detroit. so at least one other manger imitated the idea (although possibly mocking Weaver I guess).

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    1. EWJ

      Willie Mays still lives, so greatest living player hasn’t changed. Though it could reasonably be argued you preferred Musial. You could also reasonably argue for Aaron too.

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    2. EWJ

      Willie Mays still lives, so greatest living player hasn’t changed. Though it could reasonably be argued you preferred Musial. You could also reasonably argue for Aaron too.

      Reply
  7. Stephen

    Probably more brilliant than DHing Stone was leading off with a high OBP guy at SS on the road. Let him bat & then put Belanger in at SS in the bottom of the 1st. Why not when you’ve got a 7-man bench.

    Joe, I’m sure you know Dalkowski was the inspiration for Nuke LaLoosh – screenwriter & director Ron Shelton was a ballplayer who followed Dalkowski up the Oriole chain by a few years and heard stories about him the whole way.

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  8. TheAngryYoungMan

    There is a great line about Weaver in Ron Luciano’s book, “The Umpire Strikes Back”. Luciano is talking about his time in umpiring school and learning to use the hand-held clicker to keep track of the count and outs. He says of the difficulty learning to use the clicker (and this is from memory of reading it 25 years ago): “I figured anything that small had to be easy to handle and fun to play with. Many years later I would make the same mistake about Earl Weaver.”

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  9. Mark

    Will we ever have another manager who takes a look at his roster and says “I don’t NEED twelve pitchers”? Could roster composition be the next big strategic inefficiency that some smart manager is going to exploit?

    R.I.P. Earl.

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  10. KHAZAD

    The dude knew how to manage, and he understood baseball. Then he wrote a book about it, yet still many managers today have not learned the lessons.

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  11. Michael

    I have a book called This Great Game, put out in 1971 with the MLB imprint on it, that includes articles by Weaver on managing and Al Barlick–the best of his time, too–on umpiring. Reading those articles when I was a kid taught me more about inside baseball than I had ever known in my life. Ironically, I recently got a used copy of Thomas Boswell’s Why Time Begins on Opening Day for Christmas and read it for the first time, and again learned more about baseball than I realized I could learn. And from whom did Boswell learn much of what he knows about baseball strategy? The Earl of Baltimore.

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  12. Scott

    One interesting thing about this article, reading about Weavers management style it struck me how much Jim Leyland reminds me of Weaver as an in game manager (except the pissing off the umpires bits). I wonder what other managers might be considered heirs of Weaver the tactician?

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  13. MasterMan

    Joe writes the best eulogies. He finds these qualities in his subjects, what motivated them, what made them unique, and weaves it all into his pieces. It makes for wonderful reading.

    Reply
  14. Dan Davis

    Pitchers now pitch differently than they did in Weaver’s era. Starting pitchers all paced themselves to throw deep into the game, usually with the intention of finishing it. Most relievers usually paced themselves to throw more than one inning. Now starting pitchers aim to go 7 innings, and many don’t even get there. Relievers throw as hard as they can the whole time they are in the game, and rarely are asked to pitch more than one inning.

    Teams need more pitchers now because pitching is more of a strain in the arm than it was in Weaver’s era. They would still use 4 starters and 5 relievers if they could realistically do it, but they’ve found out that it doesn’t work anymore. And they’ve found that some pitchers who can’t be effective pitching multiple innings can be effective in one inning, or even one or two batters.

    Pitchers really can’t go back to pacing themselves the way they used to, because they would get pounded if they weren’t throwing as hard. The environment of the game has changed, with a smaller strike zone, smaller stadiums, hitters using maple bats, and every hitter in the lineup swinging as hard as possible at every pitch.

    In Weaver’s era, there were usually two or three guys in a lineup who probably wouldn’t get an extra-base hit off a pitch thrown at lesser velocity or off a pitcher’s B-level slider. Maybe they’d get a single, but not likely a double or HR. Now pretty much everyone in the lineup is capable of drilling pitches like that for extra bases.

    Games taking about an hour longer also makes it harder for pitchers to go deep into games. Sure they get more rest between innings, but they have to keep warm and focused for 3+ hours if they want to throw a complete game. Fewer innings pitched by starters means more innings pitched by relievers, so more relievers are needed.

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