Time to amend the save stat
Originally Published: September 6, 2007By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com
One thing we never get tired of, here at International Rumblings and Grumblings Headquarters, is offering our completely voluntary services to save the game of baseball.We're selfless like that. So this week, what we'd like to help with, if this sport will just let us, is to save the save. We're not sure at what point the save reeled completely out of control. But over the past couple of weeks, it's become obvious that this stat has arrived, officially, at that stage of lunacy where it needs rescuing. After all, just since mid-August, we've seen:
- • A save of one inning or less would require no more than a one-run lead to protect -- or the reliever would have to enter with the tying run on base or at the plate.
• A save of between 1 1/3 and two innings would require no more than a two-run lead -- or the reliever would have to enter with the tying run on base or at the plate.
• A save of more than two innings would use the definition in the Wes Littleton Rule -- no more than a three-run lead unless the tying run is at the plate or on deck.
|Ichiro Suzuki just became the third player in history with seven straight 200-hit seasons (joining Willie Keeler and Wade Boggs). Can you name the active player who has had the next-longest streak (four in a row) at any stage of his career? (Answer later.)|
Rumbling toward the great NorthwestIf the Mariners make the playoffs, they're going to follow the strangest path by any playoff team we can remember. For one thing, they've had four losing streaks of six games or longer -- one more than the Pirates and Devil Rays combined. For another, they just lost nine games in a row -- a streak that began on Aug. 24, when they were leading the wild-card race by three games. We took a look at the 52 previous losing streaks of nine games or longer that have started on Aug. 24 or later since the 1964 Phillies (10 in a row) became the brand name for late-season collapsing. We found only two other teams in that group that led their league, division or wild-card standings at the time that losing streak started. One was the 1995 Angels (who lost nine straight twice while blowing an 11½-game Aug. 25 lead to -- how 'bout this coincidence? -- the Mariners. The other was the 1973 Dodgers (who led the NL West by four games with 28 to play, then also lost nine straight).
Rumbling toward the BronxEven if Roger Clemens comes back and goes 6-0 in September and October, the feeling among baseball people who know him is that this is it -- his actual final season. Really. Finally. No kidding. One friend says: "I'd be shocked if he comes back -- anywhere. The impression I get is, this time it's just been too hard, physically." Meanwhile, what does the future hold for Clemens' buddy, Andy Pettitte? He has a player option for next year at $16 million. And given the gruesome state of this winter's free-agent starting pitching market, we hear increasing speculation that Pettitte could opt out and bungee jump to the top of that market. There's no sign he's sincerely interested in going anywhere else, including back to Houston. But given the alternatives, the Yankees would have no choice but to inhale deeply, then cough up more years, more dollars or both.
The rumble in the September jungle• If the Red Sox don't bring back Mike Lowell, the Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Astros and Yankees (if they lose A-Rod) would all be major bidders. But Lowell has sent signals to his friends on the Phillies that, in the words of one of them: "He would love to play in Philadelphia." And why not? Lowell is a .353 lifetime hitter in 70 career plate appearances in Citizens Bank Park, with seven homers, six doubles and a .750 slugging percentage. The Phillies could have about $27 million coming off the books this winter, depending on whether Aaron Rowand departs. And a year from now, Pat Burrell's $14 million will also disappear. So the Phillies should have money to spend to address their third-base and bullpen issues. • Ominous note for teams like the Tigers, Dodgers and Phillies (all of whom emerged from Labor Day weekend at least three games out in the wild-card race): In the 12 seasons of the wild-card era, just one of the 24 wild-card teams was as many as three games back on Labor Day: the 2001 Cardinals. One asterisk: The '99 Reds were four out, came back and tied the Mets, but missed the playoffs because they lost in a one-game playoff the day after the regular season.
|It's actually a current streak. Michael Young is working on four 200-hit seasons in a row -- and would need 29 hits in the Rangers' last 23 games to make it five.|
Headliner of the weekFrom the hilarious Chicago sports-parody publication, The Heckler:
- "Cubs tweak Adam Dunn shift by putting entire infield on Sheffield Ave."
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