Sunday, July 4, 2010

Closer with a K

ALERT: This post is about baseball and more specifically the other team from New York aka the Mets.
An alternate title is, "INSANITY, THY NAME IS METS.

Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.  If any team in sports can be shown to espouse this action it must be the team from Flushing New York.  And their location is apropos because what they do year after year is flush their chances at post season play down the toilet.
It all started many years ago when someone had the brilliant idea of making more money for less work by calling himself a "Specialist."  This arrogant group of somewhat underachieving part time athletes convinced the hierarchy of base ball to pay them more cash to do less work but in a more stressful part of the game.
That simple act of egoism has morphed into today's set of players who cannot hold a candle to the early Hall of Fame multi-tasking wonders of that field of dreams.
We the fans are now subjected to the insanity of the manager replacing a starting pitcher with the sixth inning specialist who sets up the game for the seventh inning one.  That pitcher leaves the game in favor of the eighth inning guy, also known as the set up man who in turn leaves the pitching mound to, wait for it - The Closer!
Once a closer hits the mound all other moves are done unless other forces come into play such as the inning ending in a tie.
Now returning to the insane team at the heart of this post we can look back in history to view a succession of 'closers' who have ruined the team by their mere existence.  Such wondrous names as Armando Benitez who may have been good before coming to Flushing but never showed his brilliance in the teams 'Blue & Orange.'
Armando did however symbolically embody the insanity of Met management and foretell their lack of success.  You see if he was the pitcher trying to defend a two run lead and had just walked the bases loaded the manager knew that he could not visit the mound for fear of getting the guy nervous.  If he did that all hope would be lost.  (I am not making that up - check it out for yourself if you are interested.)
As a result when Benitez, or any of the teams illustrious closers was handed the ball all the other pitchers and utility players for that matter could hit the showers.  The game would indeed be closed out after his appearance on the mound; mostly by losses.
And that brings us to the current holder of the title of closer, Francisco Rodriguez affectionately known as K-Rod (mostly by the other teams who cannot wait to get him into the game.)
One game ago this closer was trying to lose the game in the ninth by allowing runs, hits and walks.  This pretender was one pitch away from loading the bases and blowing another game when he was rescued by a rookie.
Playing shortstop, 20 year old Ruben Tejada called for a 'pick-off' play at second base.  He silently signaled to the pitcher his intent to sneak in behind the runner to take the throw from the mound.  Luckily K-Rod was able to find second base and while blocking the base with his foot Tejada tagged out the guy to end the game.
It is sad that K-Rod was given a 'save' for the efforts of the rookie when clearly the game would have been lost otherwise.
So the very next game with his team once again holding a smallish lead the management decree of bring in the closer (aka send in the clowns) is enacted and the rest is history.  He loaded the bases and gave up hits and enough runs to close out the game on the losing side
The fans of this snake bitten team will soon come to call this latest in the string of specialists of the ninth K RUD or K Loser.
But facts are facts and as long as any pitcher on this team is considered the closer he will be placed in the situation of holding a lead in the ninth inning.  Anywhere from nine to nineteen athletes worked hard to get into that inning with more runs than their opponent.  Now they sit and watch as a semi-athlete literally throws away their efforts.
We cannot blame the current manager, as dumb as we may think him to be because as long as there are closers Met management will say they MUST be used.  And every manager the team has ever had follows this edict.
I offer a simple fix to the problem:
If the current pitcher has not thrown a tremendously large number of pitches and is not dead or injured and has gotten the last batter he faced out then he is rewarded by allowing him to face another batter even if that batter is the first batter in the ninth inning!
If he gets that batter out then he faces the next batter.
He is replaced if he allows a base runner and you feel, truly feel that another pitcher would be better, no matter what that pitchers nickname is.
The act of constantly bringing in a 'closer' (who has proven himself to do just that, close out the game no matter which team wins) and expecting him to hold the lead merely by virtue of his title is by definition insanity.

2 comments:

train buddy said...

I could never figure out why after only one year in the majors (and one exceptional year at that) that the Mets thought they had the real thing. I always though it was a bad idea and as usual I was right. If I told my employer that I didn't want to work on certain days I'd be shown the door -- and I don't come even close to making what K-Rod does. Something's wrong with this picture

Cousin Bruce said...

That's K RUD to you Ma'am.
Even Billy Wagner did not perform as one would hope when he was here.
You have to go back to Tug to find a good consistent reliever for the Mets. Perhaps that's because back then they weren't placed on a pedestal and called Sir Closer!