Saturday, June 17, 2006

June 17th, 1965

Mike Magnante Born

"It was late July, which is to say that Mike Magnante had picked a bad time to pitch poorly.‘Mags,’ as everyone called him, had come in against Cleveland in the top of the seventh with two runners on and a three-run lead. The first thing he did was to walk Jim Thome--not one could blame him for that. He then gave up a bloop single to Milton Bradley and the inherited runners scored--just plain bad luck, that. But then he threw three straight balls to Lee Stevens. Stevens dutifully took a strike, then waited for Mags to throw his fifth pitch.


Mike Magnante goes into his stretch and looks in for the signal. He just last month turned thirty-seven, and is four days shy of the ten full years of big league service he needs to collect a full pension...He makes an almost perfect pitcher to Lee Stevens, a fastball low and away. The catcher is set up low and outside. When you saw the replay, you understood that he'd hit the spot. It's the pitch Mike Magnante wanted to make. Good pitch, bad count. The ball catches the fat part of the bat. It rises and rises and the two runners on base begin to circle ahead of the hitter. Mags can only stand and watch...he's given up five runs and gotten nobody out. It wasn't the first time he'd been knocked out of the game, but it wasn't often he'd been knocked out on his pitch.

[In reaction to that game--and Magnante's performance the whole year--Billy Beane traded for Ricardo Rincon, turning Magnante into an ineffective and extraneous piece]

Phone in hand, almost casually, Billy says to Paul DePodesta, now seated on Billy's sofa, ‘Do you want to go down and release Magnante?’
‘Do I want to?’ says Paul. He looks right, then left, as if Billy must be talking to some other person, someone who enjoys telling a thirty-seven-year-old relief pitcher that he's washed up...It wasn't that Mags was just four days short of his ten-year goal. He'd get his pension. It was that, in all likelihood, Mags was finished in the big leagues.”

~Michael Lewis, Moneyball

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