Wednesday: I’m sorry but I don’t believe Felix Hernandez’s nickname is sufficient anymore. There has to be some leader who is above the king, right? Emperor Felix, maybe. Or Supreme Commander Felix?
The way he’s pitching right now, King Felix just doesn’t seem gaudy enough. The way Felix is pitching these days, he may just rule over baseball history. No one in the modern era of baseball has dominated the way Hernandez is right now. It’s not just the numbers, though they are impressive.
After last night’s 4-2 win over the Braves, Felix has strung together 15 starts in which he’s pitched seven or more innings and yielded two or fewer earned runs. That’s a record. He’s 12-3 this season with a 1.97 earned-run average. He’s giving up about six hits per nine innings and his WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) is a dominating .877.
Felix’s season compares favorably with the gold standard of the past 50 years, Bob Gibson’s 1968 season. He won 22 games, had 13 shutouts, pitched 28 complete games and posted a hard-to-fathom 1.12 ERA.
Baseball has changed considerably since then and we’re not just talking about PEDs. Gibson was paid $85,000 for his 1968 season, a not-paltry sum for the time but nothing like the $22.9 million Felix will pull down this year.
And, if Felix is injured, the M’s will owe him about another $130 million. If Gibson’s arm had given out after 1968? The Cards would have owed him zip, nada, nothing. So who really cared if he threw 304 innings?
Today, Gibson would throw seven or eight innings, would complain when the manager came to take him out and would be soothed because he would be making $25 million per year. And his numbers would probably be remarkably similar to Felix’s.
Drop Felix into 1968 and watch him throw 300 innings, strike out 290 guys and post a 1.25 ERA or better. He’s that good right now.
Tuesday: We have to mention a couple thoughts on the renewal of the basketball series between Gonzaga and the University of Washington. One of the more interesting items we have in the paper today is a list of the final 10 games in that series, before the Huskies pulled the plug.
Before anyone gets ticked off, saying it was a mutual thing, let’s be clear. Washington didn’t want the series to continue or it wouldn’t have put so many conditions on its renewal. A series between these two schools could only be home-and-home and asking for anything else, as UW did, would – and should – kill it.
The same could be said of the series between Gonzaga and WSU. Why the Cougars agreed to the conditions imposed by GU to continue that series, I don’t know. But it should be home-and-home as well. The way it will be the next few years isn’t right.
In the final nine times the Huskies and Bulldogs got together before the hiatus, Gonzaga won eight times. That’s pretty impressive, considering UW had some of its better teams in that period. No wonder there was a break. But with Washington needing to improve its basketball standing, the series is back on. And it will be a home-and-home series. Good.
• At the end of every year, Washington State athletic director Bill Moos reviews the contract the school has with each coach. This year, he decided Mike Leach deserved a raise.
Leach, who was making a bargain-basement – for big-time college football – $2.25 million, will now be making $2.75 million each season.
The extra half-million will be included in his compensation for his media responsibilities.
I’m guessing, despite the designation, Leach will still be able to say “next question” anytime he doesn’t want to answer something asked in a press conference.