The Detroit Tigers honored the 1968 World Series champions before their game with St. Louis tonight. It got me wondering…just how much has the game changed in those 40 years?
Denny McLain had 31 wins, including 28 complete games, for the Tigers en route to winning the Cy Young Award.
Last year’s Cy Young Award winner, CC Sabathia, had 26 total decisions and only four complete games.
Bob Gibson had an astounding 1.12 ERA, with 28 complete games and 13 shutouts. The pitching mound has been lower ever since.
The pitcher that comes closest to those numbers so far this year is Edinson Volquez, with a 1.71 ERA.
In 1968, Sandy Koufax had been retired for two years. He still remains the greatest Jewish player ever to put on a Major League uniform. I have no doubt that Ryan Braun and Kevin Youkilis would strike out nine out of 10 times against him.
In 1968, Carl Yazstremski and his spectacular sideburns was the only AL player to bat over .300, finishing the season at .301. Ryan Theriot, who has batted in the eight-spot for the Cubs at times this season, is batting .308.
Ryan Theriot is not a Triple Crown Winner. The pitching in 1968 was that good.
Harmon Killebrew had the coolest name in baseball in 1968. Today’s players can’t ever hope to have a name like that. His last name alone was worth eight home runs a season.
The 1968 World Series pitted the St. Louis Cardinals against the Detroit Tigers. With the way things are going this season, a repeat of that matchup would require divine intervention. At the very least, the ritual sacrifice of Cecil Fielder.
In 1968, Disco Demolition Night was eleven long years away. I hope Emo Demolition Night happens a lot sooner. If Bill Veeck were still alive, it would.
Julio Franco turned ten years old in 1968, and was no doubt playing Little League ball. He played his last Major League game last year. A 49-year old man rounding the bases without injury is almost as impressive as Cal Ripken Jr.’s streak.
The Yankees finished above .500, and yet were 20 games behind the Tigers at the end of the 1968 season.
Now, we can root for the Yankees to finish 20 games behind Tampa, of all teams.
My, how times have changed.