This article from the Hartford Courant ran on 9/14/06 ("A Human Factor in Closing"). It's a typical puff piece that doesn't come up with anything new, but provides a skeleton for minimizing Mariano Rivera.
- IT'S OPENING SALVO PRESENTS THE IDEA OF "1-INNING CLOSER" AND LINKS IT WITH--GUESS WHO--JOE TORRE--TO GIVE A PHONY LEAD LEGITIMACY.
- THIS IS TO MAKE YOU BELIEVE THAT JOE TORRE'S CLOSER IS LIKE THEIR FAVORITE CLOSER--A 1-INNING ONLY GUY--WHEN THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE. TORRE HAS USED MARIANO IN MANY EXTRA INNING SITUATIONS, HAS IN FACT CHANGED THE RECENTLY EVOLVED PERCEPTION OF '1-INNING CLOSER.'
- AS FURTHER PROOF OF THIS, SEE HOW THE BLUE JAYS HAVE HIRED AND USED BJ RYAN, HOW THE METS HAVE HIRED AND USED BILLY WAGNER, HOW THE RED SOX RE-VAMPED AND USED PAPELBON, HOW THE ANGELS HAVE USED FRANKIE RODRIGUEZ--NONE WERE USED JUST AS 1 INNING GUYS, BUT THE MEDIA GUYS DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS.
"Yankees manager Joe Torre was a broadcaster when the notion of the one-inning closer was born in the late 1980s.
"It didn't make a lot of sense to me then," Torre said.
His opinion changed once he was back in the dugout.
"All of a sudden, guys who were getting 1-2-3 innings in the eighth were getting knocked around in the ninth," Torre said. "And starters who went eight innings would fall apart if you left them out there for the ninth."
The sabermetric community, which studies baseball using a scientific method, has struggled with the impact of the one-inning closer. Some argue that the way modern managers use their closers doesn't make a lot of sense.
This argument says the Goose Gossage pattern, where the ace reliever is used in the late innings of close games, whether it's the seventh inning or the ninth, will save a team more runs over the course of a season.
There is logic to this argument.
After all, in a statistical sense, it doesn't make a lot of sense to use your best reliever when ahead by three runs in the ninth. Any major league pitcher ought to be able to get three outs before allowing three runs.
And a reliever used in the Gossage pattern will pitch more innings and have a greater opportunity to save runs.
But this may be where sabermetrics meets its limitations.
Torre says there is an easy explanation why managers use their closer when ahead by three with three outs left.
"That's what he's been conditioned to do," Torre said. "The rest of the guys haven't been conditioned to take the ball in that situation."***
- THEY HAVE TORRE BACKING UP THEIR PREMISE, WHICH IS TO MAKE YOU THINK TORRE BACKS UP THEIR FAKE THESIS, A STATEMENT NOT AT ALL NECESSARILY SAID IN THAT CONTEXT. IT'S ANOTHER IN THE SPAM CAMPAIGN TO MAKE YOU THINK HOFFMAN IS ON THE SAME LEVEL AS MO. JOE TORRE, HIS USE OF A CLOSER, AND THE CLOSER HIMSELF, MO, HAVE CHANGED THE WAY CLOSERS ARE USED. THE POINT THEY WANT YOU TO USE IS ECKERSLEY FORWARD. THAT IS A CORRECT POINT, UP UNTIL MO.
Torre's point is that ballplayers are human beings, something too often left out of the sabermetric equation.
But should teams begin conditioning closers differently in the minor leagues so that baseball can return to the days of Gossage and Rollie Fingers?
- HERE WE GO--WE'VE READ ALL THIS WAY, AND THEY VERE OFF THE ROAD INTO NOTHINGNESS.
What numbers there are (and there aren't enough to be considered conclusive) suggest that the modern, one-inning, lights-out closer may be more valuable than those used in the Gossage pattern.
Tick the names off in your head: Eckersley, Rivera, Smoltz, Gagne. All have one thing in common.
- THE ESSENCE OF A LIE AND MORE PROOF OF THE CAMPAIGN TO BLUR MO---"TICK OFF THE NAMES IN YOUR HEAD--AS CLOSERS, ECKERSLEY AND GAGNE, ESPECIALLY GAGNE WHO WAS GOING FOR A "TOTAL SAVES" STAT--WERE 1 INNING CLOSERS. THEY DON'T MENTION RIVERA'S POST SEASON AT ALL, THE MULTI-INNING SITUATIONS. IF IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL, HARTFORD COURANT, HOW COME YOUR GUY DIDN'T/COULDN'T DO IT?
When they were closing, their teams tended to outperform their expected record, based on the Pythagorean method - a formula that predicts a team's record based on runs scored and runs allowed.
For example, the 1998 Yankees, who scored 965 runs and allowed 656, would have been expected to win 108 games.
They actually won 114. In any given season, such anomalies occur. Sometimes a team wins a few more games than expected (although rarely as many as six) and sometimes it loses a few more than expected.
Although there are other reasons this occurred, the Yankees, with Mariano Rivera as a closer, have won more games than expected for eight straight seasons.
During Dennis Eckersley's run as a closer, the A's exceeded expectations five straight seasons.
During Eric Gagne's three-year run of brilliance, the Dodgers were better than expected all three seasons, as were the Braves in John Smoltz's three seasons as a closer.
- Another fallacy--maybe they fell for the multi-million dollar publicity campaign run nightly on ESPN, the rock music or the neon lights at the stadium.
This season, the Yankees are two games over expectations (through Tuesday) and the Red Sox, who had Jonathan Papelbon, are five games better than they should be.
No such pattern exists for even outstanding relievers used in other ways.
The A's, with Rollie Fingers, underperformed while winning three consecutive World Series in 1972-74.
- WOW! THEY MENTION THE POST-SEASON! But, of course, NOT for Mo--are they really that ignorant about the greatest, most successful, most clutch pitcher ever in the post season? If so, maybe they could check with Eckersley or Rollie--they know the truth.
Gossage's teams, while generally better than expected, were sometimes worse than expected, as were Bruce Sutter's Cubs.
After checking individual closers, it seemed worthwhile to see if there was a pattern among teams.
The save stat is much maligned. But since 2000, the seven teams that recorded more than 55 saves - all but impossible without a top closer used as a one-inning guy - all outperformed their expected record.
- AGAIN, THEY'RE GOING NOWHERE EXCEPT TRYING TO SELL YOU THEIR GUY BY DIMINISHING SOMEONE ELSE.
None of this proves that the modern method of using the closer is proper, nor that the old ways were flawed.
But a basic principle of science is that bad ideas die while good ones remain.
There may not be proof that the three-out closer is a sound concept, but until teams with top one-inning closers start losing more than they should, the idea isn't going anywhere."
- "THERE MAY NOT BE PROOF??" I thought this whole article was supposed to enlighten us about some point? NEWSFLASH: MARIANO IS NOT A 1-INNING CLOSER. SINCE HIS ASCENDANCY WITH JOE TORRE, SEVERAL OTHER TEAMS INTERESTED IN WINNING HAVE STARTED TO USE THEIR CLOSERS AS THE YANKEES HAVE USED MARIANO (I listed the teams above).
When they stop writing this garbage, I'll happily stop pointing it out. His PR campaign, however, has the media covered. Mariano must not have a PR conscious agent, or one who knew the extent of the other guy's sales team to get him into the HOF by minimizing Mo.
September 14, 2006, by Matt Eagan, Hartford Courant