In 1999, a 23 year old flame throwing right-hander made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He made five starts, pitching a total of 30 innings and ended the season with an ERA of 2.10. People were excited about the kid, but the next two years didn’t go as well. In 2000 he made 19 starts and wound up with just four wins and an ERA over five. Things didn’t improve much in 2001, as he went 6-7 in 24 stats with a 4.75 ERA. Finally Dodger management decided to make a change, and they moved this guy to the closer role. It’s something that many teams have tinkered with, but it’s never worked quite like it did here. The next three seasons saw this player save over 150 games and shatter the consecutive save record. Only an elbow injury, which limited him to 16 games in 2005 and 2006, would slow this pitcher down. The player, of course, is Eric Gagne. The question, at least to most fans in Greater Boston, is ‘what the hell is wrong with this guy?’ Gagne (or “GagMe” as he’s being called) has an ERA of 15.45 in Boston after it was just 2.16 in the first half with the Rangers this year. Not only that, but when he gives up runs, they’re costly. In Baltimore this weekend the Red Sox led entering the bottom of the eighth inning on both Friday and Sunday. In both cases, Gagne allowed the Orioles to tie the game. On Friday, in fact, he let them back in it from a 5-1 deficit. The thing about playing in Boston is that you need to have some real cajones. There is a lot more pressure at Fenway than there is in Arlington. Baseball is a different kind of monster in Boston, and historically there are some players who have thrived, and others who have fallen, playing under this type of a magnifying glass. Two years ago, Edgar Renteria took over the role of shortstop and was an absolute catastrophe. He didn’t hit, couldn’t play defense, and just was out of synch. Last year, guys like J.T. Snow and Carlos Pena couldn’t get it done. But look at what those guys do elsewhere; they’re fantastic. We had a young lefty pitcher with a boatload of talent who had already proven he could play at Fenway. Now he’s gone, because we wanted to take a shot at this guy to fill the void left by Brandon Donnelly. Fantastic. Oh, and the lead in the AL East, which was 12 games last month, is down to four. Who’s excited?!
On a lighter note, BioShock is now available as a playable demo on Xbox Live. Apparently the folks at Microsoft and 2K are pretty excited about this game, because they’re building it up as though it will replace Halo as “the game” for this system. We’ll see about that.