WHEN IT CLICKED
Tom Glavine, Atlanta Braves
Tom Glavine went 7-17 in his first full season in the majors, 1988, and he said it took several years of successes and failures before he discovered the form that last season earned him membership into the exclusive 300-win club.
"I went through the growing pains my first year. I went 7-17, and the following year I actually had a pretty good year -- I went 14-8, I think. Then in 1990, I went backwards again. Like [with] most young pitchers and most young players, the hardest thing to do is settle into that consistency. And for me, it came in 1991.
"There were really two defining moments -- when I came up with the change-up I throw now and became very comfortable with it, that made a big difference. And there was a game I pitched in '91 in Philadelphia, where I didn't have very good stuff. It was one of those days when I kind of battled my way through it, and won the game. And that was a defining moment for me. I said, 'You know what? If I'm really going to take off and become a good pitcher, these are the games I'm going to have to figure out how to win.' And it was the first time I had really taken notice -- I just won a game that for the last three years I would've lost.
"More than anything, I think it was that same mentality that so many say they see in me today -- that mentality of never giving in. You keep battling, keep trying to figure something out, keep trying to make the pitch you want to make. And you don't give in to [the feeling of], 'Well, gee, I just don't have it today, so I guess it's just one of those days.'
"With the change-up, I was shagging [fly balls] in the outfield one day in spring training, and when I went to pick up the ball, I grabbed it with these two fingers [middle and ring fingers], and it felt really good in my hand. The next day I had a side session [in the bullpen], and I went, 'Wow, it feels pretty good.' So it was completely by accident. But it's worked out pretty well for me."
-- Interview by Dave Sheinin