Tom Glavine: Clayton Kershaw Is A Rarity In Today’s Game

As a pitcher – a Hall of Fame pitcher, we might add – Tom Glavine has mixed feelings on bat flips.

“I get the argument that you don’t want to give the perception that guys that are playing the game aren’t having fun or there’s no emotion in the game,” Glavine said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “There’s plenty of emotion in the game. Guys that play the game generally are having fun. That’s why they’re doing it. Now is there room for a little bit more of that stuff in the game? Maybe, but my fear is what’s the so-called cutoff for when it’s appropriate for a bat flip? I get Jose Bautista’s bat flip in the playoffs. You don’t get many bigger moments than that right there, so I get it. But how long (is it) before a guy does it in the fifth inning of a game to make the score 4-2 and he did it because his home run was really long and he was really proud of it and so what’s the big deal?

“To me, that’s the worry you have – taking it past that special moment in a game or in a season and it starts to become the norm,” Glavine continued. “I don’t know if it’ll ever happen, but that, to me, would be my biggest concern. I guess if hitters want to do that, then they have be equally prepared if there are pitchers out there that want to do a cartwheel when they strike a guy out. It’s fair game. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.”

Of course, given how dominant pitching has been in recent years, hitters may start flipping their bats after getting singles. From decreasing the size of the strike zone to lowering the pitching mound, many baseball analysts want the game to try just about anything to boost offense, especially since the use of PEDs has diminished.

“There are many things that baseball is exploring to try to increase the numbers offensively, but it’s tough,” Glavine said. “When you look at the number of arms that are out there – guys that can throw mid-to-upper 90s in rotations and then it seems like everybody has three to four guys that they trot out of the bullpen that are throwing mid-90s to upper-90s or 100 miles per hour. So it’s tough. It’s not like you have that fourth and fifth starter that you’re beating up on anymore or those middle guys in bullpens that (don’t have overpowering stuff). Those guys coming out of the bullpen are pretty talented and it makes for a more difficult at-bat for today’s hitters because you’re generally seeing on most nights probably three or four pitchers – or at least three pitchers – and every one of those guys seems to throw harder than the last guy (who) was in. So it’s a tough adjustment for hitters in today’s game.”

Glavine, one of the best lefties of all-time, won two Cy Young awards and was a 10-time All-Star. He also shared locker rooms with other pitching greats like Greg Maddux.

Doesn’t matter. Even Glavine is blown away by Clayton Kershaw, who has 105 strikeouts to just five walks this season.

“He’s on one of the best runs in the history of the game,” Glavine said of the three-time Cy Young winner, “and he does it the old-fashioned way: he pitches. I think a lot of guys in today’s game are throwers and they really don’t know how to pitch all that much. It’s all just power, power, power. But you take Kershaw – he’s one of those guys that’s a rarity and is fun to watch. He has power, he throws pretty hard, he has a good breaking ball, he has a good changeup and he can locate – and when you can get a guy who can locate the way he does with three pitches, it makes it really hard. And that’s what you’re seeing.”

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