The award given each year to the most outstanding relief pitcher in the major leagues is called the “Rolaids Fireman of the Year Award.” Fireman, because in baseball vernacular, a pitcher comes out of the bullpen to “put out the fire”; Rolaids, because they are the corporate sponsor and are associated with easing stomach pain, a familiar sensation to any baseball player or fan hoping and playing for those last three outs.
Jason Isringhausen should win his own award: Master of the Maalox Moment. Don’t get me wrong; I come to praise Izzy, not bury him. He’s got a proven track record as a closer. He’s second in the National League with 32 saves, after today’s bout of gastric distress. He throws a nasty cut fastball and a wicked curve.
But more times than not, he puts himself as much in a situation to lose the game as well as save it. Today he let the first two Giants he faced get on, then he got a pop out and a strike out before letting Mike Matheny (who couldn’t hit the dirt if he tripped when he played for us) single to load the bases with recent Cardinal-killer Moises Alou coming up as a pinch-hitter.
Okay, bases loaded, two outs, tying run on second, go-ahead run on first. Win or lose? Win today—Alou flew out to Taguchi in right field. But why did our closer put himself into this situation in the first place? Sure, he got the save, but not before fans throughout Cardinal Nation are reaching for Maalox, Tums, Mylanta, Rolaids, Jack Daniel’s, Oxycontin, or anything else to stop the pain.
I hope Izzy strikes out the last batter in the Cardinals’ fourth and decisive World Series victory this year, you know I do. But making it interesting doesn’t interest me. I wish Izzy could be like Bruce Sutter was in the ’80s, like Mariano Rivera was in the late ’90s, like Eric Gagne and Billy Wagner and Brad Lidge are now. When those relievers come into a game, it’s over. It’s just over. No one’s getting a hit. No one’s getting walked. Chalk up another “W” in the left-hand column.
Nope, we have Izzy. Izzy gonna get him out, or Izzy gonna load the bases? Pass the Maalox, would you?