Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Great Mariano

601. It is a number every baseball fan--no, every living creature--has lodged in his mind like a yowling cat stuck in a chimney. For 50 long years, this number has stood like a great colossus. Unflinching, unyielding, unsomething else. Set in stone. Fifty years. Warriors and kings lived and died, empires rose and fell, but 601 withstood the test of time like a yowling cat in a chimney who not only yowls but has the ability to withstand time-tests. 601? No poet has or dare I say "hath" come up with a sound so sweet. But after a half-century one great, noble moundsman came along and with a tiny arrow (after eight innings worth of other dudes had weakened it) and slayed the beast of 601. And fifty years of history came crashing to earth.

Fifty years.

Wait, what?

Fifty weeks?

The 601 save record stood for just fifty fuckin' WEEKS? The save rule hasn't even been around for fifty years?

Forget I said anything.

Sterling kept saying how we will not see this record broken in our lifetime. I don't know, man. Things are getting more specialized, not less. It takes 40 saves a year for 15 years. We've only just begun the era where that's a possibility. Look at Eckersley. He was one of the first in the role as we know it today. He had already had a decade of starting before he became a closer. Had he done the "one inning at the end thing" for his whole career, he'd easily have more than 602. Now closers start their careers as closers, so I say that record gets broken. The fact that the last one stood for less than a year (okay, for five years from the point Hoffman broke the previous record) should tell you that.

And I know that they've gone back and awarded saves throughout history, from before the rule was made. But, A. look at all these guys in the 60s/70s/80s who would pitch way more than one inning at a time, and weren't just put in when the team was winning. Put those guys in the modern closer role, and they break 602 without breaking a sweat.

And go back to the early 1900s. Take any of those great pitchers and tell 'em they only have to get three outs, they break the record easily too.

Mo's good (although even he will tell you his strike zone is bigger than everyone else--that's called having an unfair advantage), but you can't judge it on skewed numbers.

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