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RIP Johnny Sain

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Football_Bat, Nov 8, 2006.

  1. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member


    First Spahn, then Sain.

    Pray for rain (in the afterlife).
  2. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Oh, fuck. I gasped when I saw the thread title.

    Damn. Lost a fine, fine man tonight. RIP.
  3. mpcincal

    mpcincal Well-Known Member

    He was also Jim Bouton's favorite pitching coach, as noted in "Ball Four."
  4. tommyp

    tommyp Member

    Johnny Sain is widely credited by past and current major-league coaches and players as the best pitching coach ever. And a pretty cool guy, too, as Bouton wrote.
  5. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    He was a great pitching coach. In an era where the main qualification for pitching coaches was being a drinking buddy of the manager, he took his job seriously and produced results wherever he went. One reason he was a favorite of Bouton was that Sain wasn't a shill for management. He was a good teacher but from everything I have read, the biggest thing he did was to instill confidence in the people he coaches.

    You might compare him to Leo Mazzone in this era, except one point you could make is that Sain worked his magic with different teams which seems even more impressive to me. Coaches generally don't make the Hall of Fame, but if they did Johnny Sain should be the first one they put in.
  6. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    He was also Leo Mazzone's favorite pitching coach (and mentor), for what it's worth.
  7. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    [doing Johnny Carson impression] I did not know that...

    but that explains a lot.
  8. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    It does explain a lot. Mazzone learned the idea of an extended off-day throwing program from Sain, who was rarely allowed to implement it in his time.

    Braves pitchers always threw twice between starts, while almost every club in the big leagues has its pitchers throw once between starts. Results are easy to see: Glavine's still never been on the DL (he missed a start this year, one of 8 he's ever missed in his career.) Maddux has only been on the DL once, and that was after he left for Chicago. Smoltz had his own elbow problems, but that doesn't have anything to do with extra throwing.

    I never understood why no one ever copied Mazzone's plan, just for the hell of it.
  9. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    About 15 years ago, if you talked pitching coaches, the hot "name" seemed to be Tom House, who had ideas like throwing footballs, exercises, and I think he even wrote a book about it. That's not to say House was wrong, but he seemed to seek a higher profile. Mazzone seemed to get the recognition only after the Braves were really successful.

    Why didn't anybody copy it? Good question. Maybe it's a feeling that the Braves just had unique pitchers there at the same time and a feeling that they were talking about Maddux and Glavine, two 300-game winners. Maybe the idea of having pitchers throw twice could cause fear that a pitcher might get hurt and said pitching coach would be unemployed.
  10. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Two memories from that:

    Sain called the days after a good start, "The cool of the evening." A pitcher could relax and bask in his success for three days (in the days of four-man rotations).

    Sain's other advice was, "Don't be afraid to climb those golden stairs" and stick up for yourself with management. Agents handle most of that stuff today, but in the reserve clause era, it was bold for a player to stand up for himself.
  11. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Hell, I had some of House's books (and VHS instructional tapes; he made a bunch of those too!) when I was in high school. I vividly remember watching his pitchers throw footballs in the outfield, and his primitive Apple computers punching data to analyze pitchers. House's problem wasn't necessarily his ideas -- it was his credibility.

    House rode the coattails of a Mr. Lynn N. Ryan for a couple years in the late '80s and early '90s, but never once was credited for any other pitcher's success. That's because his pitchers didn't have any. ... He got a 20-win season out of a 27-year-old Kevin Brown, but that was it. Turns out Brownie was a good pitcher with or without Tom House in his dugout.

    A bunch of third- and fourth-place Rangers teams isn't going to help you become a best-seller.

    Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner.

    Most pitching coaches spend more than a few years toiling in the minors, and once they get their shot at The Show, they don't want to jeopardize it. That means, playing it safe. ... Playing it safe with pitchers' arms, playing it safe with game-day strategy ... and, of course, playing it safe with off-day throwing programs.

    Mazzone followed Sain's advice: He stuck with his program.

    And his program has worked, for dozens and dozens of pitchers (especially retread ones.) ... Yeah, he's working with a couple of 300-game winners and possibly another HOFer in Smoltz. ... But he also got the most out of John Burkett, Denny Neagle, Chris Hammond, Kerry Ligtenberg, etc., etc., etc.
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