Denny McLain is the best. Yes he won 31 games in 1968 and back-to-back Cy Youngs in ’68 and ’69, but according to a 1970 Sports Illustrated story he also cost the Tigers a pennant in 1967 when, in late September, he suffered broken toes at the hands of bookies to whom he owed $46,000. He was slated to pitch on the final day of the season, pitched ineffectively and the Tigers missed their shot at the Red Sox in a one-game playoff for the ’67 pennant.
That was a tough break for Denny. And maybe his side of that story puts his broken toes in a totally different context. But I do know this much: when you have had that story floating around you unchallenged for 40 years, you are not in the position to be calling out someone for letting their team down during the home stretch. Almost anyone else can, but not you.
But hey, Denny is nothing if not shameless. Here he is talking to the Free Press about Jhonny Peralta:
“I would love to see him hang in there for the ballclub’s sake,” McLain said in a telephone interview with the Free Press. “He is more concerned with next year, starting clean, rather than helping the club this year. Everything’s about him. It’s not about the team. It’s not about the playoffs. It’s not about the World Series. It’s pure selfishness.”
I’ll give McLain credit for later saying that Peralta might be a good kid who took a wrong turn — McLain knows an awful lot about that — but man, I can’t think of anyone in less of a position to call out Peralta for not putting his team first.