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Away From Home

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

On the save

From Tim Keown at ESPN.com:

Bear with this for a second because there might be an important point about the mechanics of managing a baseball team in here somewhere.

On Saturday night, the Dodgers were tied with the Diamondbacks in the bottom of the ninth: The D-Backs are in first place, the scuffling Dodgers need a win – hey, this game means something. And now the D-Backs have the bases loaded and nobody out, thanks to a mess created by Dodger reliever Giovanni Carrara.

The situation is fairly simple: The Dodgers need one strikeout, and preferably two, to keep the D-Backs from winning the game. Understand, this isn't a save situation because the game is tied.

Among the Dodgers' relievers, who is best equipped to get one or two strikeouts? If you said Eric Gagne, you're right. So why not bring Gagne in to clean up Carrarra's mess? Well, because it's not a save situation, that's why.

So Carrarra – by all accounts a heck of a guy – stays out there and walks Kelly Stinnett to lose the game.

That's right – four balls to Kelly Stinnett with the bases loaded. You think Gagne would have done that?

And answer this: If Carrarra had gotten out of that mess, and the Dodgers had scored three in the top of the 10th, and Gagne had pitched the bottom half without giving up the lead, who would you say saved the game?

The statistics would say Gagne saved it, but logic would say otherwise. The guy who truly saves the game is the one who gets the most important outs, no matter the inning. That's why the save is and will continue to be the most overrated statistic in the game.

So true.


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