Tuesday, October 8, 2013

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #72 CHUCK FINLEY


MR. KITAEN WAS AN UNDERRATED STARTER.




EXCEPT IN '92, WON 10-PLUS EVERY YEAR FROM '89-'00.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Durable left-hander Chuck Finley won 200 games during his 17-year career, struck out 2,610 batters and was a five-time All-Star. Yet, all I remember is his marriage to '80s sex kitten Tawny Kitaen, who was later charged with domestic violence after beating him with a stiletto heel. Wildness ran in the household; Mr. Kitaen's out pitch, the split-finger fastball, got a lot of strikeouts but resulted in a lot of wild pitches, twice leading the majors in that category, but it helped him establish a quirky major-league record. 

DEFINING MOMENT

  • Making the start for the Indians against the Rangers on April 16, 2000, Finley took the hill for the top of the third and was about to make history. He became the first pitcher to strike out four in an inning three times in his career. After a lead-off single, Finley got Tom Evans, Royce Clayton and #146 Chad Curtis swinging, but a passed ball allowed Curtis to reach. Finley then blew away #52 Rafael Palmeiro looking. Finley finished with 13 strikeouts in the complete-game 2-1 victory.

DEFINING SEASON

  • Finley went 18-9 in '90 while with the Angels, pitching 236 innings with a 2.40 ERA, 177 strikeouts and allowing 210 hits. He finished seventh in the AL Cy Young voting. It was the first of back-to-back 18-win seasons.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Won at least 15 games seven times, compiling an average record of  14-11 from '89-'00.
  2. Always available to take the ball, he pitched 190-plus innings 11 times.
  3. His 2.40 ERA in '90 was the lowest by a Halos' lefty, eclipsing Frank Tanana's 2.43 in '76.
  4. Led the majors in complete games with 13 in '93, pitching a career-high 251.1 innings.
  5. The Kitaens' divorce proceedings gave the tabloids endless fodder. Among the revelations were Tawny saying Chuck used steroids and abused alcohol and marijuana. Mr. Kitaen countered with, "I can't believe she left out the cross-dressing.''

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