Thursday, July 06, 2006


A Celebration of Sustained Mediocrity

The six active pitchers with the most losses are as follows: Greg Maddux (197), Tom Glavine (186), Roger Clemens (174), Jamie Moyer (160), David Wells (144) and Randy Johnson (143).

In the case of that distinguished sextet, the losses are a mere side-product, the inevitable result of pitching long -- and well -- enough to generate 200+ wins. But the next player on the career loss leaderboard is an entirely different animal, a crafty veteran who got by on sheer guile, who lost more games than he won, and who pitched for 12 different teams in his career. That animal is, of course, Terry Mulholland.

Yes, I'm referring to him in the past tense, and yes, there is a reason for that. The 43-year-old Mulholland was released by the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 21, having spent most of the year on the disabled list. Thus far, he has not officially announced his retirement, but all signs are pointing in that direction. If this truly is the end of the line for Terry Mulholland, then the sport will have lost one of its most likable and intelligent veterans, a baseball lifer who broke in with a 1986 Giants team that also featured Vida Blue and, believe it or not, Steve Carlton (Lefty went 1-3 over six starts, and was cut loose immediately after recording his 4000th career strikeout).

Sure, from 1990-1993 Mulholland was a front-line starter for the Phillies (albeit a mediocre one). He went 54-50 over that time, pitched a no-hitter (in 1990), and started the 1993 All-Star Game. Incidentally, he had the best pick-off move in the game.

But in the last decade Mulholland was a journeyman fifth starter/long reliever type of guy, the sort of unremarkable chap who managers like to have in the clubhouse because they can pitch on short rest and eat up innings when the rest of the bullpen is worn out. In short, he was an unheralded bit player, suiting up every day simply because he couldn't imagine doing anything else.

Who knows? Mulholland may catch on with another team this season. If the likes of Scott Erickson and Jose Lima can emerge from baseball purgatory (however briefly), then surely Mulholland can as well.

But if this the end of the line...Well, then I tip my cap to you, Terry. The baseball world is gonna miss you.

-----For the record, there are now just two 1993 Phillies remaining on an active roster: The Atlanta Braves' Todd Pratt, and, of course, Curt Schilling.

But how can you not mention his unique, herky-jerky delivery? Back when we here on 116th Street were little kids (and not on 116th Street), we always though there was something a little "off" about Terry Mulholland. Then he pitched his no-hitter (which would have been a perfect game if not for the always unreliable defense of Charlie Hayes), and we decided we liked him. Nevertheless, our enduring image of Terry Mulholland is his awkward delivery, which was kind of the key to his devastating pickoff move. Why am I writing so much about Terry Mulholland? Back to soccer...
To not mention his delivery is indeed a glaring omission.

Charlie Hayes squandered Mulholland's chance for a perfect game, but he did make a nifty backhand stab on a line drive to end the ballgame, and at least partially redeemed himself.
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