Posted by Chip Stevenson in Detroit Tigers
It's finally done. Todd Jones attempt at becoming the most average pitcher to ever have 350 saves in a career is officially over. He has been relieved of his duties as the Tigers' closer, and I guess I'm on board with the move. I've generally been a big supporter of his- I subscribed to the idea that as long as he kept on getting the job done, it didn't matter how many runs he gave up, how many balls were caught at the warning track, how few k's he had, how high his WHIP was or how hittable his 88 mph straight fastballs looked to me. It seemed like he must have been a pretty good man in a previous life to be getting by with all of that luck, but hey, he flat out got the job done. Then this past Friday happened.
It was the first game of an absolutely pivotal series with the first place White Sox. A couple buddies and I decided to suck it up and purchase standing room only tickets to the game, putting my perfect 6 and 0 record on the line. We got there early and got prime standing area right next to the statues in left field. The Tags had been ahead all game, only to cough up most of their lead on their way to handing the game over to Todd Jones with only a one run spread. He quickly got the first two hitters to somehow screw up and get out, proceeded to get an 0-2 count on Carlos Quentin and then he gave up a single on the next pitch. At this point, we all knew we were in trouble. Jermaine Dye came up and basically ended the game as well as Todd Jones' closing career when he went potty all over a Todd Jones patented cutter that always seems to cut right into the hitters' happy zone. I could see Jermaine Dye's "O Face" all the way from where we were standing. After I immediately and involuntary puked all over the White Sox fan standing in front of me at the sight of Jermaine Dye's fist pump and Ozzie Guillen jumping up and down like a schoolgirl who got a pony for her birthday, I decided to take a walk around the stadium by myself to gather my thoughts, get some napkins to clean up the slits on a bunch of tiger fans' wrists, and get a breath of fresh air. Not only was it my first loss of the season, bringing my record to a still stellar 6-1, it also put a big skid mark on our playoff hopes (and not the ones that you see in the streets, but rather the ones that you see in Dupree's underwear). In the middle of my soul searching session, I came to the realization that that game might be the last time I get to watch Todd Jones' mediocrity in a pressure situation for the Tigers.
In 2006 when every Tiger player seemed to have an angel on him, Todd Jones was officially the closer of the team, but we really had a three headed monster that took care of the closing duties- a dominant Joel Zumaya would throw 100 mph gas in the 7th inning in between Guitar Hero sessions, Fernando Rodney would throw whiffle ball change ups in the 8th inning in between marijuana cigarettes, and Todd Jones would clean up in the 9th in between shaving his studly fu man chu mustache. They all succeeded in their particular role and were rarely ever expected to change their routine. This year, Zumaya and Rodney have been hurt for most of the year and have been inconsistent when they have pitched, leaving Todd Jones to clean up in much closer games. The three headed monster that was so successful in 2006 has never really materialized this year and Todd Jones has been the one who has been affected the most. He has been put in situations where he struggles to succeed (one run games) and he doesn't have the two flamethrowers mowing opposing hitters down in front of him. It has been like putting the stripper who handles the 2 p.m. shift at Deja Vu on Wednesdays into the primetime 11 p.m. Friday shift. Of course he isn't going to succeed in that situation. It's really just unfair to him to even expect him to do that. I'm not even mad. Look, I like Todd Jones and I respect what he's done for the Tigers during his career. He's got that blue collar attitude that Detroit loves and he's gotten by all this time with completely average stuff. He has even handed his demotion with absoolute class. But because he doesn't have the consistent support bullpen group in front of him nor the double D cup size required for the primetime job, it's about time that he calls it a career and rides into the sunset.
RIP Closer Todd Jones