Time to give Jamie Moyer his due as he closes in on dubious record
Now that he's about to do it, now that
But when you look at Moyer's home run totals, the man who should also come to mind is a more traditional home run king, another player who went on and on and on: Mr.
That's how Moyer's done it, too. Sure, he had one big HRA year, his best season, in 2001, when he went 20-6 and guys went yard on him 44 times. But most years his numbers were less showy, years when he gave up 22 and 27 and 33. What he did was amass the innings and the years. "I never thought of the total," he said the other day. "I thought of the pitch, the inning, the game." And it added up to a number nobody's ever reached.
In Cooperstown now there's a special exhibit honoring Aaron called "Chasing the Dream." There's also a tribute to Moyer as the active pitcher with the most wins, 265. Moyer never gave up a homer to Aaron -- he missed him by a decade -- but he did allow home runs to a lineup of Hall of Famers, starting with the third baseman he grew up rooting for,
Moyer, the pride of Souderton, Pa., gave up his first home run to Schmidt's teammate,
"The only time you think about stuff like [the record] is when writers mention it," Moyer said. He's on the second year of a two-year contract and this year he's looked, at times, brilliantly crafty, ordinary and worse. As per usual. Meaning he'll still be pitching next year, and still adding to his HRA total. After every outing, some new record seems to fall. He's now one of three pitchers to win 100 or more games after turning 40. On May 7 he became the oldest pitcher in baseball history to pitch a complete-game shutout. He's also the oldest Phillie to ever get a hit. He's still looking for his first career home run with a bat in hand, not a ball.
"The home runs I've given up, I'm not proud of them, of course," Moyer said. "But if you're throwing strikes and you're at it for a long time, it's going to happen. You're going to give up home runs. Sometimes you make your pitch and the guy just beats you. You've got to tip your hat. Now sometimes the guy stands there and poses. Or does some slow trot around the bases. Then you have to deal with that. Back in the day, guy did that, next time up he got drilled. So I've been told." When Moyer starts talking "back in the day," he's usually got his old Texas Rangers teammate
Many home runs are innocuous. "If nobody's on a home run is probably not going to ruin your outing," Moyer said. Nearly 60 percent of his home runs allowed are with the bases empty. "Sometimes a homer's good. It can be a rally-killer. Next guy up, at least the bases are clear.
"One thing I really didn't like to do is give up a home run to the first batter in the game.
Bernie (seven total) has good company.
Then there's another group of players who didn't have as much home-run success off Moyer, but players whose go-yard potential worried Moyer the most:
"Barry Bonds, he stood on top of the plate and he wanted the ball away, so he could extend his arms for the most power," Moyer said. But Bonds was so strong, Moyer says he could hit it out of the park with balls practically on his wrists, too. A nightmare. What's a pitcher to do? Walk him.
But the ultimate nightmare is Wrigley during the day (when batters can see the ball better), with the wind blowing out. Moyer has allowed 36 home runs in Chicago. The ballpark where he has allowed the most home runs (89) is Safeco Field in Seattle, despite the fact that Safeco is a safe haven for a fly ball pitcher who works the paint and relies on a changeup. Wrigley's another matter. Some home runs there, Moyer said, can almost make a pitcher laugh. "You've got pop-ups there that wind up in the basket," Moyer said. "Guys swing up with the wind there and they sail. What can you do? Don't waste energy on things you can't control." Moyer himself hit balls almost to the ivy at Wrigley. His last home run -- that he hit himself -- came when he was playing in an adult league, during one of his college summers. "No fence and I just ran the bases hard," Moyer said.
According to baseball-reference.com, only one of the homers Moyer allowed was an inside-the-park job, by
Moyer and his wife,