As much fun as it is to be right, it stinks to be proven correct when you predict a disaster for your favorite baseball team. Like most Crew fans, I cringed when GM Doug Melvin announced the Brewers would be paying washed-up, HGH scandal-tinged Eric Gagne the princely sum of $10 MILLION DOLLARS to be the team\’s closer this year.

Taking a step back, I cheered Melvin when he didn\’t cave into Francisco Cordero\’s ludicrous demand for a four-year $40 million+ contract. For a while there it looked like Melvin was going to wisely go against conventional wisdom and field a team without a highly-paid save specialist. Then he picks up Gagne (bad) for $10 million (worse) for only one year (thank God). But while it\’s obvious Gagne\’s signing was a bad idea, I hereby submit that paying any closer anything more than a poverty wage is a mistake.
Without further ado, here are the reasons why the closer is the most-overrated man on the roster.

1. People wrongly assume the closer is important because he\’s the only player who enters a game to his own theme music like a pro wrestler. MLB needs to make a rule that if the home team\’s closer stalks out of the bullpen with \”Welcome to the Jungle\” or something similarly awesome heralding his arrival, he must endure a head-hanging walk to the dugout after a blown save while the sound guy plays something quiet and sad by a Lilith Fair artist.

2. With apologies to Rollie Fingers and his mustache, the save is sort of a made-up statistic that wasn\’t even officially recorded until 1969. Look at all the ways a closer can \”earn\” a save. Sometimes a closer can throw one pitch and he\’ll show up in the box score next to the winning pitcher with an equally-important looking stat.
3. Starting pitchers and position players are way more important than closers. If a starting pitcher gives a team 7 quality innings in 30 games, that\’s about 200 innings of service. Closers typically pitch one inning per appearance. How many innings does the average closer pitch in each season? 70 innings in 70 games? By my calculation, your closer is about one-third the importance as one of your starting pitchers. And while a starting hurler can win for you every five games, a position player can win games for you every game. I will vomit with rage the day Prince or Braun leaves the Brewers for the Yankees saying, \”I woulda re-signed with Milwaukee but Doug Melvin gave my $10 million to a guy who doesn\’t even figure into the equation in half the games.\”

4. There is nothing so special about the ninth inning that you need to have one specific guy to pitch that inning. While the game may be \”on the line\” in a close game in the 9th, the game can also be \”on the line\” in the sixth inning of a 2-2 game if the bases are loaded with nobody out. It\’s easy to remember the closer\’s strike out that ends the game, but the other 26 outs recorded that game were important too.


5. I\’ll take a reliever who offers a change of pace from the starter over some flame thrower. I don\’t remember what the Brewer paid Doug Jones when we had him at the end of his career, but he, his 70 mph fastball and his mustache saved 36 games in 1997. A closer is just another relief pitcher. Relief pitchers just need to chew up innings and throw strikes. Doug Jones threw strikes.

Thanks for sticking with me. That went longer than I expected. If you only take two things away from this post, remember this: 1.) closers are the most overrated players in baseball, but 2.) the most effective Brewer closers have sported outstanding mustaches.

Memo to Gagne and Turnbow, get in touch with these guys immediately!