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Bob Gibson on three days' rest: "what's the big deal?"

Nov 3, 2009, 10:25 AM EDT

Bob Gibson wonders why everyone fusses about the World Series starters going on three days’ rest:

“What’s the big deal? I don’t get it. I don’t think it’s going to kill somebody. A pitcher can’t pitch with three days’ rest? Some of those guys make $8 million a week . . . I don’t imagine you’d want to do that all year, but for playoffs and World Series … if you can’t do it then, when the hell can you do it? I don’t quite get it.”

Gibson’s point is taken — Old Hoot kicked all kinds of butt pitching on three days’ rest in three different World Series — but he’s also missing a larger point:  It’s not the number of days’ rest itself. It’s the fact that it’s shorter rest than a guy is used to.  Gibson pitched in the era of four man rotations, so three days’ rest was normal rest.  Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett and Cliff Lee pitch in the era of five man rotations, and three days is short rest. Asking someone to change their routine and force their body to adjust to it so quickly is a taller order, I think, than Gibson is giving today’s starters credit for.

And as the article reminds us, Bob Gibson actually pitched on short rest himself in the 1964 Series: two days’ rest before the clinching Game 7.  And he was great. But (a) he’s Bob Gibson, not some mere mortal like Andy Pettitte or A.J. Burnett; and (b) even he said that he “didn’t feel really dynamite after that.”

So let’s cut these guys some slack, huh?

  1. Mo Green - Nov 3, 2009 at 10:37 AM

    Bob Gibson is a stock character at this point, The Grumpy Old Man. He is now the answer to the question: How big of an @sshole would a Hall of Famer have to be in order to be remembered for his mouth instead of his arm?
    I think he and Brett Meyers should hold a joint press conference about Cole Hamels. If it gets scheduled, you can write the whole story about it before they even start talking.

  2. Old Gator - Nov 3, 2009 at 10:59 AM

    Bob Gibson on the alleged crack in Ted Williams’ head: “I didn’t do it, and even if I did, what’s the big deal? He was leaning over the plate.”

  3. Mike Z - Nov 3, 2009 at 11:08 AM

    If the Phils can make it to game 7 Cliff Lee just might make the old timers proud and pitch on 2 days rest in game 7 of the WS just like Gibson did in ’64. Then Koufax did it in ’65 and Lolich in ’68. All 3 of them were victorious on 2 days rest in game 7.
    Now I know it is 40+ years later and the rotation has changed. But if there is any pitcher out there that can pull off what is considered as impossible or crazy nowadays Cliff Lee is that guy.

  4. comeonman - Nov 3, 2009 at 11:17 AM


  5. comeonman - Nov 3, 2009 at 11:20 AM


  6. Larry - Nov 3, 2009 at 12:30 PM

    Gibson has every right to criticize pitchers of today. He threw 25-30 complete games a year throwing 125-140 pitches a game, pitched constantly with 3 days rest, hit and hit well unlike the sissy pitchers in the American leage sticking his neck out like anyone else after hitting a guy. He ran the bases, collected gold gloves for his fielding, and gave credit to his fielders when they made great plays. He even got back up with a broken leg and tried to pitch again. He endered racism on the road at the beginning of his career.
    The man has the toughness and credntials to criticize any pitcher of today.

  7. Joe - Nov 3, 2009 at 12:47 PM

    Gibson also pitched in a low-offense era with bigger strike zones, a higher mound, and middle infielders were good for 20 HRs during their careers.
    Also, Gibson hit well for a pitcher. .206 career BA is nothing to write home about.
    Gibson was a great player, there’s no need to make him out to be something he wasn’t.

  8. Shely - Nov 3, 2009 at 1:33 PM

    I saw him pitch many times in person and on T-V. From your comments I feel that you really don’t know much about the guy. Gibby was one of a kind. He was tough and threw as hard as anyone. The Cubs had a pitcher named Ferguson Jenkins. He was the best in his era except for Gibson and Koufax. When the Cardinals played the Cubs, they would not pitch Fergie against Gibson because it was an automatic loss. So they saved Jenkins to win another day. Otherwise, it could be an easy sweep for the birds. So you really don’t know Gibson. I agree with Larry. Gibson was the best competitor I saw in those days. All conditions were equal for all players and teams, but Gibson stood far and away above all the rest except for one or two others. Sorry, your stats may be correct, but you are wrong on Gibson. He was a superman. He, Ruth, Aaron, Mays, Musial, Cy Young, Fellar and a few others are in a League of their own.

  9. alyce Iavarone - Nov 3, 2009 at 2:00 PM

    Once again we are losing focus on the issue at hand. Baseball is a different game then it was when Gibson pitched. The rounds of playoffs did not exist, and as one of your former responders said, the mound was higher. This coupled with the public criticism which I believe to be out of control would tend to weigh heavy on a pitcher. This is a very specialized era. National League baseball is not nearly as different from American League baseball as it once was, with the former being quite a bit more substantial than the latter (at that time). Today, the one obvious difference is the DH. Some like it; some criticize it. It gives extra opportunities to players that may not have been in the game. You have left handed and right handed designated hitters. Bob Gibson was great for his era and that is something we all should realize and he should remember

  10. comeonman - Nov 3, 2009 at 2:07 PM

    People should realize it was a different era, the game has changed, the players have changed. MLB teams will not use pitchers this way again, too much is invested in these guys.
    Since everyone wants to compare today’s pitchers with hall of famer Bob Gibson why can’t we compare Gibson to Ty Cobb, how will his #’s match up, some of the old timers need to get over the fact pitchers make 8 million a week, as per Bob.I got a good laugh when Jim Rice said Jeter is not a good player to model yourself after, how many rings did Rice win. I hated that he had to wait all those years for a deserving hall of fame call but he is bitter as well.

  11. comeonman - Nov 3, 2009 at 2:08 PM

    not Ty Cobb but Cy Young, soory.

  12. Jeremy - Nov 3, 2009 at 2:48 PM

    Bob Gibson was awesome, but it was a different game in his day, and not just because of the higher mound and bigger strike zone. It used to be that spring training was for getting in shape and getting your stroke back. Nowadays, lots of hitters lift weights and practice all year round. Nor do today’s hitters shorten up as much with two strikes, because strikeouts no longer carry the stigma they used to (what matters is mostly whether you make out or not, not how you do it). Because of all that (and the DH in the AL), today’s pitchers have to go all out every pitch, because any mistake to anybody, on any count, could very well end up in the seats. That’s why you need 5-man rotations and armies of relievers–guys who are going all out all the time can’t pitch as much. Well, maybe Gibson could still do so today, but most pitchers, even very good ones, couldn’t.
    In Pitching in a Pinch, Christy Mathewson talked about how a smart pitcher would save his best stuff for the best hitters, so as not to wear himself out. The days when a pitcher could do that are long gone.

  13. Shely - Nov 3, 2009 at 3:25 PM

    Hey, were you even alive then? What are you talking about good hitters today? How would you like to be in Gibson’s shoes and face the Braves with Aaron, Mathews etc. all in a row? You don’t know what you are talking about. The hitters yesterday were just as awesome. How would you like to pitch against Mays, Orlando Cepeda, McCovey and all those weak hitters for San. Fran.? Gibby did a fairly good job at it. Orlando hit about .280 and drove in about 150-160 runs with 40 dingers. Who does that today? Forget Willy McCovey? No one hit a ball further, not even Bonds. Mays, no comment needed. It doesn’t matter about the mound height, as it was the same for everyone. Just a few excelled. Gibson is one of them. The players today are better paid, but not better players.

  14. JL - Nov 3, 2009 at 8:06 PM

    Just because a pitcher CAN pitch with three days rest doesn’t mean that’s what SHOULD happen. I would be interested to see numbers for pitching injuries for various periods in baseball history. My very uneducated guess would be that those that pitched on shorter rest and succeeded cloud our collective memory. Obviously we remember those that succeeded while forgetting those that failed. A higher failure rate in the past could plausibly amount to a collectively detrimental effect of pitching on shorter rest compared to today. Again, I would be interested to see what the numbers might say.

  15. Insurance Appointment Setting - Nov 4, 2009 at 5:08 PM

    Bob Gibson was such a dominant pitcher. His performance in 1968 was so overpowering, MLB changed the height of the mound.

  16. GBS - Nov 4, 2009 at 9:13 PM

    Dad, is that you? (I’m serious.)

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