24 February 2009

don sutton and the world series just do not get along

here is a young don sutton on his burlap set card.

i am happy to have seen him pitch several times in the late 70s, and then once in his final season. sutton, of course, is the holder of numerous dodger pitching records. wins, strikeouts, starts, innings pitched, games, etc. he linked the koufax/drysdale era to bobby welch before leaving for free agency and essentially being replaced in the rotation by fernando in 1981. what he didn't do was win a championship.

he debuted with the dodgers in 1966. the year after they won the world series. still, don made it to 4 fall classics in his career, and missed 3 others to some degree. he almost always pitched well in the championship series, and was the primary pitching bright spot for the dodgers in their world series losses in 1974 and 1977. in 1978, however, the phillies roughed him up in the nlcs, and then the yankees really hammered him in the world series, scoring 10 runs in 12 innings against him.

after the 1980 season in which he led the league in era, sutton signed with houston as a free agent, thus missing the dodgers' 1981 world championship team. in late 1982 he was traded by houston to the brewers, and he went 4-1 for milwaukee down the stretch, helping them win the al east. then, sutton won game 3 of the alcs against the angels, which started the brewers' comeback from a two games to none deficit to win the pennant. however, in the world series, the cardinals smacked him around pretty good. pitching for the angels in the 1986 alcs, sutton pitched well in his game 4 start and in relief in game 7, but the red sox prevailed.

sutton later returned to the dodgers for a final season in 1988. seeing him pitch that year, it was obvious that he was in decline, but he was still getting people out, so his release in august of that season was kind of a surprise to me. and it didn't go over too well with him, as i recall. not that it should have - the team was in first place and he was don sutton for crying out loud. remember, this was still when the o'malleys owned the team and tommy lasorda was the manager. a player might have expected a little loyalty back then.

and so, he missed his last chance to win a world series that year, as the dodgers rode the bulldog and gibby all the way to their sixth title. i wonder if he was voted a playoff share...

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