On the popular (maybe less now that I’m a part of it) BSR Podcast a certain individual, who didn’t attend the Harvard of the Mid Atlantic, has been screaming from the mountain Ray Lewis is currently climbing that Orioles closer Jim Johnson isn’t an elite finisher. This type of rhetoric has put the host/linch pin of this very blog on the defensive like he’s Jodie Arias.
And who could blame Gweneth Platrow’s PR guy for defending JJ as he not only saved an MLB best 51 games just a year ago, but was 14 for 14 finishing just a mere 3 weeks ago in 2013. But something happened. And although I’m not Leo Menazo behind a keyboard, I can say with confidence that this “something” needs to get worked out or that late 90’s ditty “Closing Time” will have a much different connotation at the Yards this summer.
This might come off as sacrilegious to #OrangeKoolaid drinkers, but unless you wear #42 and close games in that dump in the Bronx. you are just another guy on a heater (IMO). Don’t believe me, just ask Eric Gange how his HOF chances look after his run as the top finisher years back. Anyone remember F-Rod’s run for the Mets? How about the “dominate” Joe Nathan for the Twins back in the day? Even a guy like crazy-eye Jonathan Papelbon was considered elite by closer standards just 5 years ago. Shall I go on?
And this isn’t an indictment on Jim Johnson by any stretch. What he has done going from potential mid-rotation starter to what was considered the best player at his position last year is nothing but remarkable. Props. His run last season was the catalyst to the Orioles absurd record in one-run games as well as extra inning affairs. And although he did cough up two games in the ALDS vs. the Yankees, there was no one I would’ve rather have given the pill to in those situations.
But fast forward to Memorial Day of 2013 and it seems like JJ is just “another” guy in the bullpen. Problem with that is, our fearless leader Buck Showalter is more loyal than a golden retriever when it comes to his players. And why not, as since he’s been in the Charm City I’ve heard many more win column statements from the great Joe Angel than I did in all of the years since I moved to the City That Reads combined. But even a loyalist like Buck has to be biting his nails like junkie in West Baltimore every time he makes that call to the pen to summoned Johnson of late.
I’m not your sabermetrics guy. I like the card game WAR way more than I like the baseball stat WAR. Instead I use what people my age use and that’s the eye test. And what those 20/20 hazel sillies see is a guy who is killing my baseball team of late. And it’s not only the loses, but deflating ones that could send a fragile team into a tailspin of epic portions. Luckily, this team is as resilient an Oklahoma tornado survivor (much ups to those people, btw) and the crippling late inning losses to us dumb fans hasn’t infested that tight-knit locker room….yet.
The only question is when will Buck decide to go with another guy in the closer role if JJ continues to blow games? Because as I’ve stated for as long as I’ve been playing/covering/talking about baseball, the closer role is the most over rated position in sports (IMO). Could my new BFF and neighbor Big Game Hunter be getting that late inning call? Or will it be Darren O’Day, who closed out the Expos yesterday in DC? These questions are for us fanboys/ladies to banter about on twitter, but the final call comes from our Commander in Chief. Problem for Buck O’Bama is unless you wear the jersey #42 you are just another guy, right @Patguth321?