This Day in Baseball History: June 19th, 2007

Bald, beautiful, and still not in the Hall of Fame.

On June 19, 2007:

Bert Blyleven’s head got a little colder.

I have no idea why someone would challenge Johan Santana. The year was 2007, and Santana was his usual Santana self, albeit not quite as dominating as he usually is. However, his troubles came at the end of the year, not the beginning. April was a little rough with a 3.60 ERA, but May improved to 2.73. In June, Santana had his best month with a 1.98 ERA. Oddly, he was 3-2 in each of those three months. The one thing he hadn’t done, however, was throw a complete game. In fact, only once did he pitch more than 7 innings (most were of the 6 or 7 variety), and Bert Blyleven, the Twins announcer at the time, decided to make a wager. Before his start against the Mets, he teased Santana (who had been abused for 230 innings the last two seasons) for not going deep into games, and it ended with him betting Santana that he couldn’t throw a complete-game shut-out. Santana and Blyleven shook hands.

Don’t mess with the Johan. On June 19th, Santana met the Mets and sent them home to their mommies, but it wasn’t his usual style. He had never gone past 114 pitches that season, and in 6 of 14 starts, he hadn’t even thrown 100 (the Twins seemed to be taking it easy with their star). Knowing he might be on a pitch count, he made it quick. 92 pitches later, all but 4 Mets went back to the dugout without reaching base, none with extra bases. The odd part was that Santana, though walking zero, only struck out 1. Regardless, Santana made good on his end of the bargain, and it was time for Blyleven to come through on his end.

And he did — by shaving his head. Shavors and blades in hand, Santana lopped all Blyleven’s hair off. For the video, go here. Afterward, Santana complimented Blyleven on actually doing it. It would be Blyleven complimenting Santana after another brilliant campaign. Lots of people began wondering if he was going downhill. His ERA went up over half a point, and he allowed 9 more home runs. It was a bit dumb, though. K’s were up, K/BB was above his career mark, and his WHIP was still best in the AL. It’s like when people go crazy when he gives up 9 runs in a start and start asking dumb questions like where his velocity went.

Trivia Time
Santana’s original position was …?

Yesterday’s Answer –> Martin managed the Yankees in 1975-1978, 1979, 1983, 1985, and 1988 (almost again in 1990).


6 Responses to “This Day in Baseball History: June 19th, 2007”

  1. Ron Rollins Says:

    I'm not sure how throwing 230 innings in back-to-back seasons can be classified as 'abuse'?

    Is he an athlete and a grown man making millions of dollars a year, or a little leaguer?

    If it was getting up to 300 a year, maybe. But 230?

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    That was kind of a joke, a reason why he had only thrown 6 or 7 innings a start. But I didn't really convey it well. My bad.

  3. Ron Rollins Says:

    No problem. I was curious about it, because I thought we were closer in agreement in our way of thinking.

    But no issues. It was a good post. I had never heard that before.

  4. Ian Says:

    I'll guess third base for Santana's original position.

  5. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    He's left-handed! It's not that much of a trick question. Though that would have been a good one.

    And Ron, I think pitchers are coddled a bit too much, but I also think pitchers used to be abused. It's all part of learning and reacting. 100 pitches is a nice starting point, but managers have started to use it as a crutch. As for innings pitched a year, I don't think it matters all that much as long as you use common sense. I might make this a post on Sunday.

  6. Dan Says:

    I think even Billy Martin would miss a year if you asked him which years he managed the Yankees.

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