The whole idea of the Capital-C Closer role is something that has left us feeling conflicted in recent years.
Sure, we love the iconography of it: The Gunslinger! The Fireman! The Hammer! Mr. Lock-That-Shit-Down! We love the idea of some big, burly guy swaggering out of the bullpen in the ninth with some AC/DC or nu-metal anthem blasting as he loads it up and gets ready to put a final exclamation mark on a Blue Jays win. It's high drama, and great fun. It's the Ghost of Tom Henke, and it haunts us still.
The other side is that we can't entirely understand the whole idea of holding your single best relief pitcher out of the game so that he can continue to accumulate numbers in a mostly meaningless counting stat. If you're about to lose the lead in the seventh inning, we can't quite understand why you'd want to send out some mid-level reliever to get you out of the inning while your best relief guy tilts back in his folding bullpen chair, wiping sunflower seed detritus from his warmup jacket.
It's with this in mind that we consider the whole discussion of the 2010 closer situation.
We read this piece in The Sun this morning, wherein Kevin Gregg asserts his confidence that we will once again reclaim his rightful post as Major League Closer. Such talk makes us think that he needs to get a few opportunities soon before his membership in the Closer's Club lapses, and he's left emasculated by Alec Baldwin when looking to fulfill his daily caffeine requirements.
This is where we start feeling anxious about Kevin Gregg stepping to the mound with a one-run lead, and the idea that the Jays are going to hang their hopes on this National League retread makes us really worry about the state of the bullpen.
But then, we set emotion aside and approach this rationally. And we get thinking about it, and we wonder if the Jays aren't better off giving him the role he wants, thereby leaving them with the luxury and the freedom to run Jason Frasor (for our dough, the guy with the best arm/brain ratio in the Blue Jays bullpen) and Scott Downs (who runs like a girl but gets outs when he doesn't hurt himself running) out to the mound in any situation and in any inning.
In a close game, with men on and the Jays in need of an out, we're fine with the notion of leaving Gregg out in the bullpen to clean his goggles and cool his heels while the big boys take care of business.
Even with the lack of a prototypical closer type guy, we're feeling like the Jays' bullpen could be as strong as anyone's this year. At this point, we're at least brave and/or crazy enough to think that we'll trade a few nervous ninth innings for some stability through the rest of the games.
...and finally, a Friday Rock Out memorial
Our favorite Big Star song. Thank you, Alex Chilton.