A noninterview with the Phillies' Steve Carlton
This story won't win any Pulitzer prizes -- or at least it had better not! In fact, it is a bogus interview with 1980 National League cy Young Award winner Steve Carlton of the world champion Philadelphia Phillies.
Carlton, as I am sure you already know, does not grant interviews because of his distrust of the press. Thus the only recourse for a writer who wants such a story is to talk to the big left-hander's teammates and coaches to get an idea of his thoughts, then sit down and make up not only the questions, but the answers as well.
Here's one result of such an exercise.
I understand that part of your 7-0 start this season can be traced to the occasional use of a screwball that you throw in changeup situations.
How did you find out about that, because I didn't think anyone outside the Phillies knew I now have an extra pitch to go with my fast ball, curve, and slider. Well, the screwball is something I started experimenting with last year and it has become a great out pitch against any hitter who is up there looking for my slider.
But isn't the slider still your best pitch and don't you grip the ball differently than most hurlers who rely on it for their bread and butter?
I shouldn't really tell you this, but I use a lot more wrist action when I throw my slider than do most pitchers. The result is that I get a much sharper break on the ball. In fact, by the time most hitters swing on my slider, it's out of the strike zone.
How come you ignore the age-old baseball adage that a pitcher, in order to be effective, must keep his legs in shape by always running between starts?
In the first place, I'm not ignoring the theory, I'm just carrying it out in a different way. What I'm into is an Oriental-type exercise that stretches my whole body, continually strengthens my legs, and helps me stay free of injuries.
Unlike most big league pitchers, who feel with a resin bag and find a dozen other ways to waste throws, you seem to want to fire the ball at the plate as soon as you get it back from the pitcher.
I'm sorry you noticed that, because it probably means that a lot of opposing hitters are going to start stepping out of the box on me in the future between pitches. I like to throw quickly because it helps my concentration; because it keeps my infielders on their toes.
I was checking back through the record books and I noticed that you have thrown six one-hitters during your career. Do you ever wish you could have those six pitches back that became base hits?
Never. Most no-hitters are the result of luck anyway. I think the number of shutouts a man pitches during his career is a much better indication of his ability.
Going into the current season, you had 249 lifetime wins. at age 36, do you think you can last long enough to become only the 15th pitcher in baseball's history to win 300 games? Now when I say that, I'm assuming that Gaylord Perry is going to reach that figure before you do.
Some guys are old at 26 and some guys are young at 40, I'll be surprised But at this point, I don't want to get caught up in thinking about 300 wins. When the figure gets down to 10 -- well, then I can't very well ignore it.
Is it true that you sometimes stuff cotton in your ears to help your concentration and block out the noise in many ballparks?
I have done that occasionally, except I don't use regular cotton, but a very high grade brand that I get from a jeweler friend of mine. The cheap stuff tickles.
Some newspapermen, because you have refused to talk with them, have branded you cold, indifferent, and a man without a sense of humor.
If you could come into the Phillies' training room with me, which you can't, you could see just how funny I am with my friends -- like the time Pete Rose asked me if I believed in the American dream. I said sure, except I was tired of having my American dreams interrupted by a Japanese alarm clock!