Gibson: Baseball Has Shot Itself on the Mound

By Hummel, Rick | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 22, 1994 | Go to article overview

Gibson: Baseball Has Shot Itself on the Mound


Hummel, Rick, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Baseball, with its record scoring and unprecedented brawling, has got what just it deserves, says Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson.

"They've been changing the game since 1968," Gibson said, "and they've finally made it. They were always complaining about not enough scoring. Now, they've got it to the point where the pitchers aren't effective."

Gibson refers to 1968 because after that season, in which he had 13 shutouts and a 1.12 earned-run average for the Cardinals, the mound was lowered by half a foot.

That was bad enough, he said, but now he said hitters don't believe a pitcher will throw inside, so they lean out over the plate, taking away the outside corner. When a pitch comes inside, the hitter is offended and the umpire gets itchy.

"Baseball caused the problem by allowing the umpire the privilege of ejecting a player if he thinks he's throwing too close to somebody," Gibson said. "That's ridiculous. What's too close? You might be trying to hit the outside corner and hit somebody. And if I hit somebody, what are you going to do? Put me in jail?

"They've created a monster. Hitters are looking outside, thinking there's no reason why a ball should be inside. Why should he be surprised when it is? The other day, I saw an umpire call a guy out on a breaking ball which broke over the plate and the guy was on his way to the mound after the pitcher. The guy fell down and was going to charge the mound."

If Gibson were playing today, he said, "I'd probably be rolling around in the dirt a little. But if I intentionally hit a guy, charging the mound wouldn't stop me unless he broke my arms."

In the good old days, he said, "we had some of the best hitters in the world and we didn't charge anybody. What happened is that if you thought somebody was coming inside on purpose, your pitcher would retaliate and it was all over.

"But if I played today, I would have the same mentality they have because of the rules involved. It would have been difficult to do it before because nobody had played like that. I pitched the way guys who preceded me pitched. Actually, I wasn't the worst one, but I got credit for it."

It was suggested to Gibson that he was feared because of how he looked. "If you go by how I look, they would have put me in jail," he said. "My whole family looks like this. You would have eight Gibsons in jail. You should have seen my brother, Josh. He looked like he could kill a stump."

Gibson said, however, that his demeanor on the mound was just mistaken as mean. "Just because you're not smiling, not grinning, doesn't mean that you're mean. Most of the time, I was trying to see what (Tim) McCarver was putting down and he didn't know half the time what he was doing. I couldn't see his fingers. They said I was staring at the hitter. Most of the time I didn't even know who the hitter was."

Back on the topic at hand, Gibson said, "They've got baseball the way they wanted it." And, what recourse do the pitchers have?

"Go to court," Gibson said.

Persistent, But Not Successful: Los Angeles outfielder Raul Mondesi tried to steal three days in a row against Colorado catcher Joe Girardi. Girardi threw him out every time.

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Brett Butler, 36, became the 196th player to collect 2,000 hits with the 257th bunt single of his career against the San Diego Padres. "It had to be a bunt, didn't it?" Butler said. "How can a guy who didn't even make his high school team stay in the league long enough to get 2,000 hits?"

The Ears Have It:

San Francisco reliever Rod Beck, who wears a diamond stud in his left ear, had this reaction to Marge Schott's comment that "only fruits wear earrings":

"It doesn't bother me. My mom doesn't like it either. Most older women, it didn't happen in their generation. It's not something acceptable to them."

And Barry Bonds, who has earrings in both ears:

"That's her opinion. …

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