This post by baseball historian John Thorn is about the various changes the record book has seen with respect to pitcher wins over the years and is well worth your time just to see how the messy business of compiling the historical record can be at times.
But an aside at the beginning makes it for me. In it, Thorn quotes the Sporting News which, in 1888, published pitcher won-loss records for the first time. And the VERY FIRST TIME they did it, the Sporting News said this:
On July 7, 1888, The Sporting News for the first time published win-loss records, and only then after the following disclaimer: ‘It seems to place the whole game upon the shoulders of the pitcher and I don’t believe it will ever become popular even with so learned a gentleman as Mr. Chadwick to father it. Certain it is that many an execrable pitcher game is won by heavy hitting at the right moment after the pitcher has done his best to lose it.’”
You say that now — or, at the very least, when arguing for Felix Hernandez in a Cy Young race or against Jack Morris in the Hall of Fame vote — and you get labeled some new age robo-stats enthusiast who doesn’t understand what baseball is really all about.
The best part of baseball history is how it shows how messed up some people are when it comes to baseball current events.