Opening ‘weak’ for closing games

Apr 12, 2005 5:17 AM

For openers in baseball, there’s a severe lack of closers. Maybe the GMs should look to the NHL or Century 21 for help.

Mariano Rivera, the Yankees savior for years, was booed following his third straight blown save opportunity against the hated Red Sox — a carryover from last year ALCS.

Braden "Fruit" Looper, the Mets new finisher, turned a 6-4 potential victory into a 7-6 loss after allowing two homers in the ninth inning.

Shingo Takatsu, one of the newer Far East closer models, was torched for three solo homers in the ninth as the Chicago White Sox eventually fell in extra innings to Cleveland.

The Giants and Rockies exchanged bullpen breakdowns in the same game. First San Fran gave up eight runs in sixth after leading 6-0. Later, Colorado let an 8-7 ninth inning lead evaporate on Marquis Grissom’s three run homer.

Check the lower right box inside the adjacent photo for more indictments.

To state that no lead is safe in baseball would be speaking the obvious. Heck, we’re not certain Dodgers closer Eric Gagne isn’t in exile and not on the DL!

Forget the ballclubs — imagine how tough is it on bettors knowing that bullpens are ruining numerous wagers predetermined by starting pitchers.

Maybe the ultimate solution is the Dontrelle Willis "do it yourself" method. The exciting 23-year-old Florida Marlins lefty went the distance (a rarity) in blanking Washington, 9-0.

Perhaps we should just go with the flow and play every game "over" the total. Apparently that is what the Colorado Rockies have done. In their first three games of the season, the Rockies either scored or allowed at least 10 runs. The two contests played at Coors Canaveral against San Diego produced 42 runs.

Las Vegas books aren’t brave enough to put a 20 up on the posted total, but maybe they should consider it if the trend continues. Brad Lidge, Gagne, Rivera, Keith Foulke and Billy Wagner are quality closers, but what was once viewed as a guarantee is not right now.

Yet with all of this uncertainty involving the opening week of action, baseball has never been more exciting. Anything to erase steroids from our minds, is much welcomed and appreciated.

Right now, blown saves caught our eye. When Rivera is booed at Yankee Stadium after all he’s done, that’s hard not to notice. Mets manager Willie Randolph says he has the utmost confidence in Looper as closer. That makes me think of John Rocker, who is now pitching for the independent Long Island Ducks.

Imagine Rocker taking the train to Shea Stadium again with all his home boys. One call, that’s all.