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Monday, October 16, 2006

I'm Getting Old (And Here's Why)

Everyone knows that if Game 5 of the NLCS wasn't rained out tonight, the Mets would have had to chose pitching the likes of Pee Wee Herman, Bud Melman, Hawthorne Wingo or Joe Klecko in Game 5. Yes, the Mets pitching is depleted.

So bad, in fact, that at Shea Stadium the other night a fan held up that said: "Glavine and Maine and Pray for Rain."

I didn't watch the broadcast (it was a school night) at the hour the sign was shown, but a colleague at work mentioned it and thought it was a very clever sign. She's not that much younger than me, but she thought that the idea was original.

And she was wrong.

Most fans under 40 would think that such a sign is one of the most clever baseball signs in a long time. The fact is that it derives from almost half a century ago, when the Milwaukee Braves featured two outstanding pitchers, future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn (the winningest lefty of all time) and Johnny Sain (who would go on to become a very good if controversial pitching coach, controversial because his popularity on his team frequently eclipsed that of the manager's). Unfortunately, the Braves, who featured, among others, players like Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron, had little else in the way of starting pitching, so the saying, yes, was "Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain."

So while the Met fan who created the sign tapped into a rich baseball legacy, he wasn't original. It's a shame, though, that today most fans wouldn't know about Spahn or Sain and the Braves' need for rain (a variant of the slogan was "Spahn and Sain and Two Day's Rain", because then pitching rotations contained only four pitchers).

The Mets got that rain tonight, and that gives the Ancient Met Tommy Glavine an extra day's rest and the Metropolitans a better chance to go back to Queens leading the Cardinals 3-2 in the NLCS. I am too young to have watched Spahn or Sain, and I don't know whether they ever got the rain they needed (perhaps in '57, but then, I believe, the Braves also had Lew Burdette on the roster), but Glavine and Maine did.

Pray for rain, indeed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those were not the Milwaukee Braves, but the 1948 Boston Braves, who won the National League pennant.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Jon Greenwald said...

You write very good essays, which I greatly enjoy, so please don't take this as criticism, but "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain" pre-dates the Milwaukee Braves. It was the wish of fans of the 1948 Boston Braves, who won the pennant and lost the World Series to Cleveland. Johnny Sain left Boston before the team was moved in 1953 and was retired by 1957, though Warren Spahn was still pitching very well for the Braves.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I might just add that the Braves traded Sain to the Yankees for a minor-league pitcher named Lew Burdette, who won three games when the Braves beat the Yankees in the 1957 World Series. Spahn got the other Milwaukee victory.

8:59 AM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

You guys are great! Thanks for the comments. Your posts are ironic because I thought I was pointing out a generation gap, only to create one by telling all readers that I quite frankly didn't know the time period. I stand corrected! Thanks for weighing in.

4:52 PM  

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