Saturday, August 06, 2005

Jason Schmidt: Giants Ace at Last

Last night I watched Jason Schmidt mow down the surging Houston Astros with a shutout. The Giants won even with Andy Pettite on the mound. Although he's having some problems this year, Schmidt has been amongst the best pitchers in all of baseball the last few years. He's a legitimate Ace, something the Giants haven't had since Juan Marichal.

For some reason this fact has gone exceedingly overlooked with Giants fans. In fact the Giants may have had the longest ace-less streak in the majors, about 35 years now. We tend to be so blinded by hitting that we lose sight of what the most important aspect of the game really is. We've had hitting's Mays, McCovey, Cepeda, Hart, Kingman, Foster, Bonds, Clark, Clark, Mitchell, Williams, Bonds and Kent to pitching's Schmidt.

In my attempt to point this ace-less fact out to Giants fans over the last five years or so, the standard reply is, "What do you mean?" When I ask for proof to the contrary, the standard reply is, "what about Burkett and Swift?" Well, for one thing, they were two nobodys who each had one great year at the same time for a great team, then went back to being nobodies. I'm talking about an ACE, you know, Hall of Fame caliber pitching for a few years at least. Or maybe a Cy Young candidate. One-hit shutout kinda guys. You know, like Pedro Martinez. "Oh, come on. He's an exception that comes along once in a lifetime. You're dreaming, pal." Okay, how about Roger Clemens? "Same thing. Only a few teams ever get to have guys like him." Or what about Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling? There's two greats on one team. "Well, the Diamondbacks bought them with the big bucks." Okay, how about Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz? There's three on one team. Or Hudson, Mulder and Zito?

If Giants fans would look into baseball history backward from Schmidt to Marichal at all the studs other teams have had on the mound, they'd quickly realize what a fool's paradise we've been living in. Aside from the greats mentioned above I could quickly add vintage Kevin Brown, Mike Mussina, Dave Steib, Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, Fernando Valenzuela, Dwight Gooden, Jack Morris, Bert Blyleven, Frank Tannana. Even the lowly Houston-never-even-won-a-pennant Astros have had Clemens, Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, JR Richard. How about Ron Guidry, Brett Saberhagen, Matt Morris, Orel Herscheiser, Jose Rijo? Even the lowly Cubs have had Kerry Wood and Fergie Jenkins. Steve Carlton, Catfish Hunter, vintage Vida Blue. What about Jim Plamer, Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar? Don Sutton, Tom Seaver, and if I've forgotten anybody, please forgive me.

If we had two more at the same level as Schmidt, we'd be talkin'.

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