Closing Argument

If you ever needed a freeze frame on the volatility of closers, you’re seeing it in Washington right now. Joel Hanrahan lost the job quickly, but not as fast as Manny Acta’s closer-in-waiting Garrett Mock. Instead we are told to expect a committee consisting of Julian Tavarez and Kip Wells. Until next week when Joe Beimel will come off the disabled list and either “join the mix,” or supplant those co-closers. And don’t forget that a year ago today, Chad Cordero was still active and supposed to eventually swap jobs with his impermanent replacement Jon Rauch.

It is not just franchises in chaos that remind us of how, if all managers are interim, then all closers (except, perhaps, Mariano Rivera) are temporary. Since Bobby Cox returned to the helm in Atlanta in 1990, this has been the succession (and I’m deliberately ignoring a couple of “closers for a week” like Joe Hesketh).

1. Joe Boever, 1990
2. Mark Grant and Kent Mercker, 1990
3. Mercker and Juan Berenguer, 1991
4. Alejandro Pena, 1991-92
5. Jeff Reardon, 1992
6. Mike Stanton, 1993
7. Greg McMichael, 1994-95
8. Brad Clontz, 1995
9. Mark Wohlers, 1995-98
10. Kerry Ligtenberg, 1998
11. John Rocker, 1999
12. Ligtenberg and Mike Remlinger, 2000
13. Rocker, 2000-01
14. Steve Karsay, 2001
15. John Smoltz, 2001-04
16. Danny Kolb, 2005
17. Chris Reitsma, 2005
18. Kyle Farnsworth, 2005
19. Reitsma, 2006
20. Ken Ray, 2006
21. Bob Wickman, 2006-07
22. Rafael Soriano, 2008
23. Manny Acosta, 2008
24. John Smoltz, 2008
25. Soriano, 2008
26. Mike Gonzalez, 2008-09

And they won stuff during that merry-go-round. Moreover, Gonzalez is formally Cox’s closer at the moment. Yet only last night did he pull out of a tie with Soriano for the team lead.


Well here’s the oldest time-waster by a blogger: ballplayers who look like actors. But I think three of these are new; certainly two of them are bizarre.

Khalil Greene and Sean Penn as Spicoli from  “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” – observed first, I think, long before Greene made the majors.

But what about Rocco Baldelli of the Red Sox and the actor Aidan Quinn?

This one jumped off the scoreboard at the Mets-Nats game Saturday. The new official publicity photo of Adam Dunn, and Will Ferrell?

And my favorite, applying only when he has that lip-curl snarl while at bat, somewhat enhanced by the Yankee colors: Mark Teixeira and Little Steven Van Zandt in his “Sopranos” role of Silvio Dante?


A maroon.

I have been pleading for a week for somebody to identify the “classical music” used by the Yankees during their otherwise tedious scoreboard “Great Subway Race.”

Did you know Danny Elfman was a famous 17th century classical composer?

I knew I’d heard it in the Pee Wee Herman movie. That’s because it’s part of the soundtrack of the Pee Wee Herman movie.

It’s “Breakfast Machine.”
Well thank goodness that’s over.



    Haha! Your photos of baseball players and their look-a-likes made me think of the Simpsons and the people who look like things. There’s a pop culture reference for you! 🙂

    I think Trevor Hoffman should be included along with Rivera as constants in the closer role.

    Here is something for the FYI file: Maroon comes from the word marronage or American/Spanish cimarrn. It means “fugitive, runaway”, “living on mountaintops”; it was a term used to refer to a runaway slave in the West Indies, Central America, South America, and North America. That’s the anthropologist in me coming out. Thanks for taking that moment to indulge me.


    “Well here’s the oldest time-waster by a blogger: ballplayers who look like actors.”

    From someone who wastes as much time reading your time-wasting research: this entry was hilarious.

    I wasted even more time by forwarding it to my best friend, who grew up in Granda Hills, where “Fast Times” was filmed, and through which I drive every day to and from work.

    (Kathleen, loved your anthropological info – very interesting!)



    Oh Keith, you’re no “maroon.” That’s Elmer Fudd, and you sure as **** don’t look like Mr. Fudd. Besides, in some alternate universe, maybe Danny Elfman IS from the 17th century. Expand your mind! 😀


    Actually, that’s Bugs Bunny, and the full quote is, “whadda maroon. What a ta-ra-ra-GOON-de-ay.”

  5. terry4505

    What you good sir, refer to as a waste of time, I call a stroke of genius.

    I drive my friends and family nuts by saying every time I see Adam Dunn in the last few years “And here is Adam Dunn, played by Will Ferrell in this film”

    I love nothing more than figuring out who looks like somebody.
    how about Chone Figgins

    And Willie Randolph

  6. historymike

    Bobby Cox should have listened to Dodger broadcasts. Jerry Doggett, who was Vin Scully’s partner for 31 years (too many thought he was terrible, mainly because they compared him with Scully, the best ever), once said on the air that Alejandro Pea seemed to him to lack “the killer instinct” that a closer needs. I think it was a great description.

    And Keith, don’t feel bad about Danny Elfman. Nearly 20 years ago, I took the fellow Columbia grad student I was dating (she wasn’t dating me, but that’s another story) to the New York Philharmonic. I let her choose the program, which was all Mendelssohn. As we were leaving, I told her there was a section I recognized but couldn’t put a finger on. She said I must have heard it on public radio or something. I said no, that wasn’t it. Finally, as we were walking out of Lincoln Center, I turned to her and said, “That’s it! It was in the first Road Runner cartoon!” The looks the people around us gave me. She thought it was hilarious. I thought the others were forgetting where they first heard classical music.


    At least they got the scoreboard pictures right during the Mets/Nats game. During the second Cards/Braves game last week they put up a photo of ex-Cardinal Barton with new Cardinal player Barden’s stats. And, if I remember correctly, Barton had just been traded to the Braves.

  8. thegstoye

    On the subject of the Nationals, what do you think about them landing Strasburg on June 9th? And what do you think about the whole Strasburg myth, both his talent and his “buddy, not agent” Scott Boras?

  9. thegstoye

    On the subject of the Nationals, what do you think about them landing Strasburg on June 9th? And what do you think about the whole Strasburg myth, both his talent and his “buddy, not agent” Scott Boras?

  10. astrophann

    With too much time on my hands I delved into the murky back-alleys of this here inter-web in search of the subway race/music – and turned up a big, fat zero. But, as it’s from a film I’ve still yet to see (just one i missed, I guess), I would not have recognized the music had I been successful. Glad, I am the riddle is solved.

    Meaning no disrespect to both the Cincinnati Reds reliever David Weathers and the DreamWorks animated franchise character “Shrek,” I would like to add that the two do indeed share quite a resemblance.

    And believe it or don’t, there was indeed an early 18th Century Composer (and cellist) by the name of Francesco Zappa. I kid you not.

    Oh – the news show in shirt sleeves the other night I think was a good karmic balance to having earlier gone to a ballgame in the work clothes.

    And, FWIW – boy, we Astro fans are sure liking Pudge in the local uni.



    The Greene/Spicoli comparison has to be my favorite. But I’m surprised that nobody ever compares Phil Mickelson with John Lackey…i swear, if you dressed Phil up in a Halo uniform the only thing that would throw you off would be the fact that he’d probably pitch left-handed

  12. pagevalnat

    Well, at least it wasn’t Hoyt Curtin’s music you heard, Keith. (OK, obscure pop-culture reference: Hoyt Curtin is the man responsible for that stirring piece of music “Flintstones, Meet the Flintstones…”. Hell, he wrote pretty much ALL the Hanna-Barbera theme music, I think.)
    Funny you mention the Nats. I just got finished watching yet ANOTHER bullpen disaster tonight. What had been a 4-all tie after 8 innings…turned into a 9-4 Cards win.
    Go ahead. Make a mockery of me on “Countdown” over this. I’ve become numbed by the experience.
    Nasty Nats Live Here (and Everywhere)


    You?! A maroon?! For shame! Man, I’ve got you as the top pick for my “Biggest Celebrity Crushes” on my Facebook! And no, it doesn’t work like your top five stories on “Countdown”. You’re the top pick because you really are my top pick. I’m on to you! 😉 (The other four are Jensen Ackles, Hugh Jackman, Zach Levi and Adrian Pasdar…) And I wouldn’t put just anybody up there…

    And as far as you being a time-waster, I’m probably worse than you because I sit here and read about your time-wasting adventures and I love it. My sister insisted that Danny from “American Idol” looked just like Robert Downey Jr. I denied it of course because that’s just me and I’m contrary. Just for the sake of being contrary. Until Danny said on Idol this week, “If someone were to play me in a movie, it would be Robert Downey Jr.” And now I’m thinking, “Great. He just confirmed it. Now I’m never gonna hear the end of it.” Because Danny and Mr. Downey have a uncanny resemblance to each other when they’ve got the same look going on.

    So as you can see, I’m the maroon. Not you, sir. Definitely not you.

  14. hartbreak

    Lol, love Breakfast Machine!

    I wish I’d known about this blog sooner – this is a lot of fun to read!

  15. enderpwy

    Pity the Padres’ sale-driven house cleaning deprived us of Greene. A common sight at Petco were the #3 jerseys with SPICOLI across the back. We’ll see fewer of them now…


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