Feel You From The Inside
Howdy, folks. I'm Jeff Brantley, E$PN color commentator and regular BBTN analyst. Now that April's heading out to pasture, I wanna take a look at what's going on with I'd have to say is the hardest job in professional sports (besides being a security guard at a Yankee / Red Sox game) - being a closer. (I guess it's also tough for some gofer to find a picture of me wearing a suit. Come on, kid - you ain't getting college credit for downloading porn on your modem!)
My boy Kruk Fu's already touched on Danny Kolb's gutty performance so far this year. Believe me, I know what it's like when you're out there with the game on the line and your stuff's not working for you. Sometimes it's like trying to catch a greased pig with a snake, and when you're holding down a 3-run lead and you've got Lenny Harris looking out at you like you said something nasty to his momma, it's tough. But Kolb's a gutty guy, and he's a large reason why the Braves are doing as well as they are.
Now, I know it's early in the season, so there are some things that look strange out there in Statville. Like Brandon Lyon leading the majors with 10 saves. A couple of years ago, the Red Sox threw him out there as part of that "closer by committee" nonsense, and we all know how that turned out. It's been said plenty of times before, but it's worth repeating - you gotta have set roles for your pitchers. There's a closer, there's a set-up man, there's your stopper, there's your mop-up guy, and there's Jesse Orosco. You can't go around and keep everyone on edge with a zapper just because of what some computer print out says about someone's Pythagorean rate against righties when he ate a bag of Salt Water Taffy from Provincetown for lunch. That's a bunch of egghead mumbo jumbo. These sorts of folks will tell you that Lyon's .302 batting average against, or his .453 slugging percentage against, are signs that he's gonna start spitting up pea soup any day now. Listen - a save is a save, and any way you can get a save is a good way. If you get the job done, then congratulations, kid - hit the showers, and buy yourself a nice steak dinner on me.
No doubt some of these Poindexters are saying stuff like, "Migeul Batista can't strike anyone out", or "Danny Graves has eight walks in only nine innings", and "Shingo Titsuki already gave up four home runs". What these folks don't understand - and, really, it's what burns my bush about all this stat nonsense - is that you can't stick a number on heart. To close out a game, you have to be made of sterner stuff than most men. You have to want to be out there with the game on the line. You have to give 110% every single time you throw that ball over the plate. And you have to be stupid enough to forget what happened when you didn't get the save - hey, Kruk, you ever think of learning how to throw a curve? Ha ha - just joshin' you, Crisco, you're all right.
Anyway, these folks complaining about K rates and VORP and WARP 3 and that Star Trek stuff just don't get it. I know about being a closer. I retired with over 170 saves to my credit, and I got them any way I could, because that's what they paid me for. I'll leave it up to you folks at home - you can believe the voice of experience, someone that's been in the trenches, or you can believe what some math major that's never touched a jock strap wrote in some book. And that's all I have to say about that.