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Does CC Sabathia "know how to win?"

Aug 24, 2009, 9:20 AM EDT

The Daily News’ John Harper and Joe Girardi play the Jack Morris card in regards to CC Sabathia:

Sabathia gave the Yankees something of a Jack Morris game Sunday night, at least by the pitch-count limits of today’s game, going 6-2/3 innings, allowing four runs, three earned. Along the way he had to overcome a couple of Robinson Cano errors, but most importantly, he held a lead from the third inning on, didn’t walk anyone, and threw 118 pitches to get the game to Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera.

“I think the great pitchers know how to do that,” Joe Girardi said afterward. “The great ones don’t relinquish the lead. They know how to pitch to the score and win the game, and CC is one of those guys.”

Look, I love CC Sabathia, and even though he beat my Braves in Game 7 of 1991 and was kind of a jerk the one time I met him in person, I have a soft spot in my heart for Jack Morris because he was the ace of the team I loved when I was a little kid. But please, can’t we finally do away with the whole “knows how to win” and “pitches to the score” argument?  The notion that Jack Morris intentionally “pitched to the score” and had some preternatural ability to win that was separate and apart from his run support has been discredited multiple times (here’s one of the better examples).

Jack Morris was a good, not great pitcher who benefited from some very good offenses in Detroit in the 1980s.  Sabathia has been great, but for the most part this season has been merely good, and last night was a great example of it.  Solid. Professional. As always, tough.  But his win had way more to do with the five dingers the Yankees hit off of Josh Beckett than any sort of hoodoo or gumption he has that no one else has.

What kills me about the “he just knows how to win” line is that, as is the case here, it’s almost always uttered by writers and managers and people who are very big on talking about how teams, not individuals, win games.  Why then, can’t they acknowledge that when a pitcher wins a game with eight runs behind him, it has more to do with the team than with whatever winner’s magic he is supposed to possess?

  1. hop - Aug 24, 2009 at 10:27 AM

    To the “genius” that wrote this, CC did NOT beat your braves in “91, he wasn’t even playing in the Majors at the time. As a matter of fact he was 11 years old in 1991. Get a clue before writing something like this.

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Aug 24, 2009 at 10:29 AM

    Hop: please go back to the article and read it again. Though I know the fact that I did not use three-word sentences may make things difficult for you, anyone with a semi-decent command of the English language can see that I was referring to Jack Morris.

  3. Grant - Aug 24, 2009 at 10:47 AM

    Haha. To be fair, Craig, I thought you were talking about CC at first, but then I used my brain a little bit and realized that you were obviously talking about Morris. Your sentence does have a bit of vagueness regarding pronoun-antecedent agreement or whatever, but it reads fine.
    Though the idea of an 11 year old C.C. Sabathia beating the Braves in 1991 is pretty hilarious. I wonder if he already outweighed David Eckstein at that point…

  4. Ryan - Aug 24, 2009 at 10:57 AM

    Wow, learn to read moron.

  5. Brian - Aug 24, 2009 at 11:00 AM

    If Jack Morris knew how to win, why did he lose 186 times in his career? Did he forget on those days? I know how to walk and I don’t forget how to do it 42% of the time.

  6. JL - Aug 24, 2009 at 11:24 AM

    I also thought you were taking that C.C.-Morris comparison a little too literally, but I managed to figure it out, unlike poor hop. That just made my morning.

  7. Scotia Fan - Aug 24, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    Craig
    The syntax isn’t ideal. The pronoun reference is rather messed up. It really would have worked better as:
    …even though Jack Morris beat my Braves in Game 7 of 1991 and was kind of a jerk the one time I met him in person, I have a soft spot in my heart for him because he was the ace…
    Of course we could always take this over the Language Log…

  8. scatterbrian - Aug 24, 2009 at 10:12 PM

    “Look, even though he beat my Braves in Game 7 of 1991 and was kind of a jerk the one time I met him in person, I have a soft spot in my heart for Jack Morris because he was the ace of the team I loved when I was a little kid. And I love CC Sabathia.”

  9. Travis M. Nelson - Aug 25, 2009 at 1:02 PM

    “Look, I met a jerk in person one time and even he beat CC Sabathia in Game 7 of 1991. I have a soft spot in my heart for a little kid because he was love, though I was kind of the Braves and I loved my team, the ace of the him when I was Jack Morris.”
    There. That should clear it up.

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