A year ago this month…

from Coffeyville Whirlwind 12/20/2006

Brad Radke Retires

radke.jpg

On a summer day in 2001 my dad and I decided to go catch a game between the two teams for which I had the most rooting allegiance. The Twins were playing the Astros on a Tuesday night at the Metrodome. What we saw is the single greatest pitching performance I have ever seen live (and this comes from someone who has seen a lot of Johan Santana in the past four years).

Brad Radke was at his absolute best, painting the corners, owning the strike zone. When he was on, the opposition merely hoped that the slow rollers or pop ups they managed to hit would find some open space. On this night very few of the Astros’ hits did that, and it amounted to a four-hit shutout for Radke. He even managed to strike out seven Astros that evening, a somewhat un-Radke like number.

At his worst, Radke developed a reputation for allowing early inning runs, particularly in the form of home runs. Most of the time, however, it seemed that he was able to “gut it out” and pitch well the rest of the game.

As far as “gutting it out” goes, it doesn’t get much better than Radke’s 2006 season. Though it wasn’t his greatest season, it may have been his most memorable. He essentially pitched through the season with an arm that many speculated was about to fall off at the shoulder. To somehow finish with 12 wins and an above average ERA under those circumstances was nothing more than remarkable.

I can’t help but to compare Radke’s exit to another sports hero’s potential exit in the state next door (the one with cheese and beer). Though Radke had talked of retirement throughout the year, he didn’t speak much publicly about it, and chose to wait to make an announcement until the offseason. True, there are some different circumstances (his arm still might fall off), but it would be difficult to imagine Brad holding the team hostage while trying to make up his mind about retirement, or implying that he may just stick around if ownership would invest and make the team a winner.

That’s just not his style. All Brad Radke did was pitch consistently well for 12 seasons in Minnesota.

And when I think of Brad Radke though, I still remember the masterpiece I saw that June night in the Metrodome.

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2 Responses to A year ago this month…

  1. Beau says:

    Any chance you can find out what Radke’s career ERA by inning was, to see if those observations hold weight?

    I loved watching him pitch, perhaps even more so than Santana. Something about getting people out when you can’t blow it by them appeals to me (and my own crappy fastball). His changeup was devastating when it was on. Basically a poor man’s Maddux.

  2. Scot says:

    From B-R:
    Radke runs and HR by inning:

    1st 221 R 76 HR (377 G)
    2nd 177 49 (376 G)
    3rd 164 39 (369 G)
    4th 149 45 (358 G)
    5th 154 36 (353 G)
    6th 182 49 (314 G)
    7th 87 19 9 (242 G)
    8th 32 4 (105 G)
    9th 9 0 (41 G)
    Extra 0 0 (1 G)

    It looks as though he did struggle a bit in the first, but I think that is a general rule across the board for starting pitchers in the first inning, and Radke’s split doesn’t seem as harsh as it could be. The real “bad inning” for Radke looks like the sixth.

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