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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Where the Crazy Closer Comes From

FacePage was way ahead of its time:

I wondered if it would be possible to locate the origin of the Crazy Closer archetype. Was there one late-inning reliever who was simultaneously good at his job and bonkers, thus planting this archetype in the heads of baseball fans and writers forever after? In my hunt to find the answer to this question, I kept coming back to one man: Joe Page.

DEFCON: jive Posted: April 09, 2013 at 05:26 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: closers, history

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   1. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 09, 2013 at 06:50 PM (#4408842)
This is a great piece. Great links to the primary sources as well.

I would instantly have said Ryne Duren was the prototype. But nay!
   2. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:45 PM (#4408880)
I was thinking Hrabowsky.
   3. Steve Treder Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:49 PM (#4408888)
This is a fine piece. That said, if you're looking for the archetype of nutso ace reliever, Hugh Casey wasn't exactly sane, and his moment in the sun (in NYC no less) predates Page's.
   4. Mayor Blomberg Posted: April 09, 2013 at 08:44 PM (#4408988)
'The Gay Reliever'?
   5. OCF Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:07 PM (#4409058)
I think it was Mitch Williams who supplied the motto for the type: pitch like your hair is on fire.
   6. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:46 PM (#4409184)
I enjoyed RingTFA for the nostalgia, but a distinction has to be made between "drunk reliever" (Page, Duren*), and "crazy reliever" (Hungarian, Wildthing, etc.) One had his distinction (if that's the right word) away from the ballpark, while the latter had his distinction on the mound.

*Duren, of course, fits both categories
   7. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:01 PM (#4409214)
Jeff Reardon robbed a freaking jewelry store.
   8. Bob Tufts Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:33 PM (#4409274)
Jeff Reardon robbed a freaking jewelry store.


That's nothing - I communicate with primates on BBTF.
   9. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:35 PM (#4409279)
That's nothing - I communicate with primates on BBTF.

you're giving us too much credit, Bob
   10. Bruce Markusen Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:53 PM (#4409317)
He certainly wasn't the first of the whacky relievers, but Dick "The Monster" Radatz deserves a mention. When he closed out games, he used to thrust his fists wildly into the air, which is nothing now, but was an unheard of form of celebration in the 1960s game.

Radatz' inability to throw strikes in the late sixties became such a problem that he sought out hypnosis as a remedy. It didn't work. In a 1968 spring training game, he threw 24 consecutive pitches out of the strike zone.
   11. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:59 PM (#4409325)
Radatz' inability to throw strikes in the late sixties became such a problem that he sought out hypnosis as a remedy. It didn't work. In a 1968 spring training game, he threw 24 consecutive pitches out of the strike zone.

now we know who Mitch Williams modeled himself after
   12. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM (#4409382)
As a teenager, I somehow had a profound moment of insight while reading about Ryne Duren. The gist of the article was that when batters came up against Ryne Duren, they were afraid that he would hit them in the head because he couldn't see them properly because of his weird glasses, and they had the overlapping fear that he would hit them in the head because he was drunk and/or hung over. And this was a special advantage he had, independent of his talent. This really struck me. How could someone get such an advantage? It's like a shortcut to success - if you can manipulate the expectations of other people rather than having them see exactly what you are.

And maybe he could see fine and was not actually drunk, which was probably true in order to pitch at all without violating the laws of the game. How could he maintain the illusion? Just by occasionally throwing a certain type of brushback pitch.

Anyway, this made me realize that we respond to how we perceive the situation to be, not to the objective facts of the situation, which are unknowable.
   13. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: April 10, 2013 at 08:37 AM (#4409537)
That's nothing - I communicate with primates on BBTF.


That is pretty weird. Also, going through life with a name like Tufts - people will think you couldn't get into Brown or Dartmouth.
   14. Tubbs Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:23 AM (#4409568)
Reardon holding up the jewelry store was a sad story. He was on some heavy anti-depression meds after his son died of a drug overdose.
   15. There are no words... (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4410078)
It's like a shortcut to success - if you can manipulate the expectations of other people rather than having them see exactly what you are.


They wrote a musical about this in the early '60s...

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