A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Trevor Hoffman

Oh, how the once mighty have fallen and left the game. Carrie Fisher began Star Wars as an ear muff hair cut having sweet little princess with a bad attitude standing up to the greatest villain in the galaxy. When it was over, she was wearing the metal bikini and kicking ass as a Jedi Knight, her real father and mother having been revealed. In between, she hooked up with Harrison Ford's Han Solo and found true love on Endor beside the Ewoks and Wookies.
Now, she's 75 pounds heavier and the new face of Jennie Craig.
And that's what life is. I've put 75 extra pounds on my frame too, and like Carrie, I dream about the future as I contemplate the gym that I will go to later today. That's life. Making up for the things that went wrong and moving to the future.
I can imagine that Trevor Hoffman feels much the same way as he goes into retirement. Sure, there are 601 saves to his total, but I have to say the same thing many baseball columnists have said - saves are over-rated. It's not like Rollie Fingers coming in for half of a game in the middle of a game. It's not Hoyt Willhelm's knuckle ball being called in to end Roger Maris's dreams.
In 6 years of post season appearances, Hoffman has 4 saves and a 3.46 ERA. That's not clutch. It's like Casey McGehee, his teammate said, “Sometimes he appears to be Superman. Hoffy’s human, too.” However, McGehee was defending his teammate who was imploding during the beginning of his final season.
Yet, this is the guy that crapped the bed for the Padres in 07 - blowing a 3-run lead in the 13th inning to send the Rockies - not the Padres - to the playoffs. Clutch.
"Hells Bells" to the pitching mound, he had to do something to make the pros after failing as a shortstop, consistently over-throwing first base, and he did well for the most part. In 5 All Star Games, he let up 6 runs. Slamming the door shut. In 1998, he let up a big fly to Scott Brosius and made Tony Gwynn angry since he was going to go to his retirement with no ring. He was already upset - remember, the moonshot off the upper deck from a guy who only ever hit 135 home runs in 3,141 successful hits.
I'll be honest... every time I saw Hoffman in a big game, it was as if he was folding like it was laundry day in my house. Not good at all. If you look through my past posts, you'll see how much I've downplayed relievers. Take a few good years from your young closer with a fierce attitude and don't pay big unless he can do multiple innings saves in the playoffs with a sub 1.00 WHIP and a 0.00 ERA (or damn near close to it). Other than that, these modern closers better be coming in and shutting the door.
I tell my wife often that when we have a kid, we'll be teaching him to throw left-handed since there is big money for a situational southpaw reliever. Now, more than ever, I believe that (barring the fact that he can't get even bigger money to be a left-handed starter).
Something about this post being done 2 days after the announcement says anti-climactic in the same way that most of his career does. Sure, the number is impressive, but numbers aren't everything. Quality not quantity. More is not better.
That said, good luck with the future Trevor, you're definitely a gamer... you're just not worthy of Cooperstown.

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