Bruce RuffinOn the off chance that you’ve tired of reading articles about salary arbitration, here’s something totally different.

In November, Philly Daily News baseball writer Paul Hagen participated in a Q&A with Umpbump on the topic of the NL MVP award. Today, Hagen compares Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick to another former Philly pitcher, Bruce Ruffin. It’s a cautionary tale about what can happen when you think too much.


It has been, as a matter of fact, 21 seasons since Ruffin checked in at the Carpenter Complex, a bright and shining hope following a 1986 season during which he went 9-4 in 21 starts after Steve Carlton was released.

And in a haunting echo across the baseball generations, it is also the eerily similar situation Kendrick finds himself in with the first official workout for pitchers and catchers in Clearwater scheduled for 4 weeks from yesterday.

He, too, was summoned from Reading when a pitching crisis struck the Phils last June. He went 10-4 in 20 starts and amazed everyone, well, you know the rest of it.

Ruffin says he got rocked in his second season because he tried to make too many adjustments. He made the adjustments, he says, because the media convinced him he needed to.

Ruffin: “Everybody kept saying I had to throw my fastball inside more to righthanders, to keep them honest so they wouldn’t hit my sinker away. And before the season even got going, I bought into it.

“But I lived with my two-seamer [sinking fastball] away and then ran the slider in. Now I was throwing fastballs that tailed out over the plate and Jack Clark [of the Cardinals] would hit it into the upper deck. I was making adjustments before the league showed that adjustments had to be made. All of a sudden I was trying to throw fastballs inside and guys were hitting the ball into the gaps or for home runs.”

Ruffin says he thinks Kendrick will be better equipped to handle the rigors of his sophomore season, because he’s got veteran Jamie Moyer to help him.Not everyone thinks that will be enough. We told you recently that Kendrick is getting no love from baseball pundits, most of whom think the Phillies youngster is primed for a sophmore slump.

And while it’s certainly not a good sign when local writers are comparing you to Bruce Ruffin, whose lifetime record was 60-82, I’m guessing Kyle is just excited that Hagen isn’t comparing him to Pat Combs, who won ten games for the Phillies as a rookie in 1990 — and then won three more games the rest of his career.

4 Responses to ““Don’t think. It can only hurt the ballclub.””

  1. Paul Moro says:

    It’s amazing how much useless information sticks with you through the years. As soon as I saw the photo in this post, I immediately recognized it as the 1987 Topps Bruce Ruffin card without seeing the name.

    Ah, memories.

  2. Greg Martin says:

    Is it just me, or have the Phillies always had the ugliest uniforms? Seriously, I can’t stand their uni’s. Even the current ones are off-putting, at best.

  3. Sarah Green says:

    Greg, it’s just you. I love the new Philly unis. You have given me an idea, though…watch this space!

  4. Nick Kapur says:

    It’s true Greg – the Phillies have numerous contenders in the contest for ugliest uniform of all time, and I don’t think any other team even comes close, so the Phillies have to be considered the favorites. Those all-burgundy from head to foot Sunday unis from the 1970s or whatever were one of the true abominations of all time.

    Although the White Sox have to be considered a dark horse for that year they wore shorts!!

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