We all know Francisco Rodriguez has a knack for making the ninth inning interesting, but c’mon K-rod, you’re going to give us a heart attack over here. As I watched our over-paid closer walk Gaby Sánchez of the Florida Marlins last night to put two men on with two outs, you couldn’t help but get a sense that baseball’s perennial prima donna, Hanley Ramirez, was either going to do one of two things…
A) Make the Mets work for it in the bottom of the ninth– Watch Omir Santos hit a walk off base hit against the Marlins for a 2-1 victory on May 29, 2009. These Mets fans are priceless by the way.
B) Send this thing into extra innings– we all know how much of a beast Hanley is, and being a Mets fan this might be a little sacrilegious, but you can’t help but be in love with this guy. Additionally, Marlins’ closer Leo Nunez has been the only dominating force in that rather weak Marlins’ bullpen. Nunez was in line for some work at the bottom of the ninth against Reyes (1-2), Pagan (0-4) and Bay (2-4).
Luckily for Mets fans, K-rod was able to record the last out of the game with the help of gold-glover David Wright, who made a fabulous play to get the lackadaisical speedster Ramirez out at first. But occurences like this for Rodriguez are not sporadic and yes every closer runs into some trouble from time to time (even the great Mariano Rivera blew two saves earlier this season after coming off a hip injury, one of which to the Red Sox), but you can’t help but be concerned that K-Rod is not the closer we invested $37 million in to. For that matter he’s not the closer I invested my 9th round fantasy pick in to either; at the time Heath Bell of the San Diego Padres was still available as well as San Francisco Giants closer, Brian Wilson. Both, have been noticeably better than the Mets theatrical closer and both combined have the same number of blown saves (3) as K-Rod. Rodriguez additionally has a lose on his belt from a May 12 contest against the Washington Nationals, where Roger Bernadina hit his second homerun of the game (and the season for that matter) to put the Nationals up by two runs in the ninth. So I asked myself this question…
Why do Mets fans, or baseball fans for that matter, think K-Rod is so good?
And all I could come up with is that Mets fans are holding on to false pretenses, a delusion of grandeur. We want to believe that our closer now was the closer from the 2008 season that recorded a historical high 62 saves while posting a 2.24 era, instead the next year we got 35 saves and a 3.71 era. He was most definitely not the savior our front office projected, and although our bullpen got better from the disastrous previous year, we still aren’t the dominating force we thought we’d be with the acquisitions of K-Rod and J.J. Putz. Basically he was given 08′ money and in typical fashion, Mets fans are forced to watch another overrated under-productive player not live up to the hype. We’ll see how many more close calls or blown saves K-Rod has left in the tank, but until that next tying or winning run crosses the plate at the hand of number 75, I will do what every Met fan is doing the day after a close win against the Marlins–take a breath and proceed to talk trash to the first fish-fan I see.