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Friday, September 14, 2012

Nationals Pitching Coach Steve McCatty Knows the Pain and Pleasure of the Game

They all see his right elbow is stuck at a slight angle, like the gentle bend of a tree branch. “You can’t not notice that,” Clippard said.

In 1981, McCatty finished second to Rollie Fingers in the American League Cy Young voting. He led the league in wins and posted a 2.33 ERA. He fired fastballs in the mid-90s and cut an imposing, 6-foot-3 figure. He threw 16 complete games. In his first six starts that season, McCatty pitched nine, nine, 10, nine, 92 / 3 and nine innings.

In spring training of 1982, McCatty began to feel nagging pain where his biceps met his right shoulder. His coaches asked him if he could pitch. “Yeah,” McCatty said. “I can pitch.”

Early that 1982 season, McCatty started against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Jim Rice stood in the on-deck circle, ready to lead off the second inning. He yelled at McCatty, “You’re not right.” McCatty glanced at him and yelled back, “I know.”

McCatty kept pitching. His fastball dropped into the low 80s. His ERA rose to 3.99. “It was terrible,” McCatty said. “It was the most frustrating year of my life, as far as playing. I wanted to go play so bad. It was really frustrating knowing that you could do things and now you weren’t capable of doing them.”

Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: September 14, 2012 at 09:49 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics, nationals

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   1. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: September 14, 2012 at 01:36 PM (#4235902)
I wonder what Billy Martin would have said about shutting Strassburg down. It's really too bad we missed what I'm sure would have been an uber-crotchety old age.
   2. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 14, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4235908)
When it comes to being crotchety, it's better to fade away than to burn out. A guy like Billy Martin who reaches Peak Crotchet in his early 40s, you have to worry about his staying power.
   3. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: September 14, 2012 at 01:55 PM (#4235929)
I had to click on this to make sure it was about baseball.
   4. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: September 14, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4235993)
I know it probably happens more than we know, but being traded because you are a bad influence on the star player is kind of awesome.
   5. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 14, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4235996)
That's why the Yankees traded the Melk Man, right?
   6. jingoist Posted: September 14, 2012 at 06:10 PM (#4236195)
I liked the Kaline quote to McCatty: " I've seen these giuys pitch; don't screw it up".
And he hasn't.
Then again, I thought Randy St Claire was a quite acceptable coach as well.
He just didn't have this array of talent to work with.
   7. jobu Posted: September 14, 2012 at 06:22 PM (#4236200)
Those early '80s A's were fun to watch--Rickey, Murphy, Armas and a great young starting rotation. One of the perversely great things of being an A's fan--and this is true of the Philadelphia A's as well--is that strapped ownership means purge and renewal cycles, and with renewal cycles, sometimes you get waves of young players that capture your imagination.

Reggie/Vida/Catfish/Rudi/Tenace/Campy/Bando/Fingers/Holtzman

The Billyball A's, with the great young pitching and outfield

The Bash Brothers + Smoke, Eck, Welch, etc.

The Moneyball A's (with a pretty decent front 3)

And not to jinx them, but maybe even the Bernie Leaning A's of 2012.

Almost no continuity between any of these teams, except Rickey, who could probably still lead the 2012 A's in OBP.
   8. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: September 14, 2012 at 08:56 PM (#4236267)
McCatty kept pitching. His fastball dropped into the low 80s. His ERA rose to 3.99.

McCatty, 1979-1980: 407 IP, 97 ERA+
1981: 186 IP, 148 ERA+
1982-1983: 296 IP, 96 ERA+

All of a sudden in 1981, he didn't give up as many hits, walks, or homers.
Then in 1982, he went back to very similar rate stats.
I guess he actually was hurt, but 1981 was a pretty fluky year anyway.
   9. Mayor Blomberg Posted: September 14, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4236289)
#8 - look at Mike Norris in 1980, who pulled the trick at 25.
ERA+ from 23-27: 66, 85, 149, 92, 81.
   10. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 14, 2012 at 10:30 PM (#4236293)
Early that 1982 season, McCatty started against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Jim Rice stood in the on-deck circle, ready to lead off the second inning. He yelled at McCatty, “You’re not right.” McCatty glanced at him and yelled back, “I know.”


This sounded a little fishy, due mostly to the fact that Rice in 1982 was the least likely Red Sox regular to ever lead off the second inning (since he hit third all year). And it turns out, McCatty didn't throw in Boston until September (or face them at all until late in the year), where Rice was in his customary third spot in the lineup.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: September 14, 2012 at 11:46 PM (#4236327)
I will put my money on the O's and Eddie Murray instead of Red Sox and Rice.
   12. Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: September 15, 2012 at 12:01 AM (#4236332)
Could've been Rice, but in spring training and not at fenway, I suppose.
   13. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 15, 2012 at 12:09 AM (#4236335)

Could've been Rice, but in spring training and not at fenway, I suppose.


Wasn't Oakland Arizona-based that far back? The Sox trained in Fla.

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