MLB  > General MLB  > The Closer is the Worst Idea for a Position EVER
October 21, 2010, 12:06 AM
The whole idea of the closer position is preposterous. Closers change games, they change the dynamics, change the emotional atmosphere of a game--and the team AHEAD in the game pays some guy millions to do this, to introduce this all into a game in which they are AHEAD. Put simply, the closer makes it much more likely the team using him will lose the lead. Where is the common sense?

If you're ahead you don't want to introduce anything new. You want to keep the status quo because you're winning with the status quo. Baseball used to know this inherently when it was a much younger sport. It took us at least 150 years for the sport to find the great need of the specialist closer.

Now everyone follows the modern closer convention because it makes a little sense (the guy has a fresh arm, but he's also unproven in any given game), but they mostly teams have closers because everyone else does. Teams could save money by eliminating these short-inning specialists. If you can get people out, should be able to do it consistently for several innings.

Instead of a closer we need a fireman, for use in any critical relief situation in which your pitcher has lost control of the game. That's when you want to change things up. That's when you want to change the dynamics of a game. Don't do it when you're leading and are already in command.
October 21, 2010  01:09 PM ET


October 22, 2010  12:10 PM ET

you make some good points but calling it the worst idea EVER? i dunno ... there have been lots of bad ideas.

October 22, 2010  11:22 PM ET


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July 20, 2012  05:03 AM ET

No offense but, your post is idiotic...the statistics refute your opinion and being proactive in any walk of life will produce success more consistently than will scrambling AFTER a problem arises.

July 20, 2012  05:05 AM ET

just take a look at the many failures of the "closer by committee" approach.. it's ineffective.

July 20, 2012  05:08 AM ET

players are creatures of habit and knowing what role they will be expected to fill allows for the mental preparation that is so pivotal in pro sports

July 20, 2012  10:33 PM ET

The closer is just another guy in the bullpen......

October 10, 2012  12:58 AM ET

Hey KurtB

You bring up a point near and dear to my heart. I completely agree with your premise (Closers are not a win-optimizing concept) and some but not all of your supporting thoughts.

The only thing I can figure is that it came along with the Save statistic, which is relatively recent statistic considering the long history of baseball. The idea that a particular pitcher is best to close out games goes entirely against the other stupid concept of constantly bringing in lefties to face lefties and righties to face righties. So, while that is supposedly state of the art, so much so that you need 4-5 more pitchers than you used to, a lot of them coming in to face just one batter....And then, all of a sudden lefty-righty stuff doesn't matter in a closing situation with all the marbles on the line! It's only smart when a few of the marbles are on the line?? I think these baseball guys have completely lost their minds! Plus, as yoiu point out, there are plenty of other reasons why one pitcher is better for one closing situation and another for a different one. What if the closer is overworked or is going to be pitching against guys who usually torch him?? Also, now it's in place, it will never be removed thanks to the Players Asssociation. It's like each firetruck has to have a certain number of hose holders on it...union stuff. There is prestige associated with Closing. If a Closer is demoted he will pout and probably make a complaint to the union, cause dissension, etc. He don't want to be no frxggxn' Set-Up Man, for garsh sakies!! Closers and the concept are BS of the first degree and some day MLB will realize it.... But we'll all probably be dead and gone by then...

October 14, 2012  03:19 PM ET

Using a good closer essentially shortens the game for your opponent... it's like cheating but different.

You say not to introduce 'anything new'?? How about a more tired arm from a starter late in games or wild middle relievers who don't know when or how they'll be used. Having assigned a single player to the closer role ensures focus & commitment to final outs of a game.

October 19, 2012  08:13 PM ET

all good points, TorontoEH, and sorry to see Jose Bautista was hurt this year. He's suddenly become one of the most exciting players in baseball!

October 25, 2012  04:58 PM ET

MLB doesn't force its teams to use a closer. If it doesn't make sense to a team, they can simply choose to not use one. But the fact that they all do is telling, dont ya think?

October 28, 2012  12:36 AM ET

If you think that the Closer is the worst idea ever, then what about 8th inning Setup Man?

October 28, 2012  01:59 AM ET

It was better back in Gossage's day. A closer would come into the game when the you know what was hitting the fan. Men on base the other team rallying. He would have to close it down there then go on the finish the remaining inning to save the game. Now its 9th inning no one on with a 3 run lead

October 28, 2012  10:14 AM ET

I'm sorry, but a closer makes sense, for many of the reasons cited above - fresh arm, focus on the final outs, etc.

If you're looking for a candidate for "Worst Position Ever", I'd like to nominate "Designated Hitter"...

November 5, 2012  07:27 PM ET

wiseup: A closer in the game over a long period of time will show that sopme pitchers do well in the 7th or 8th inning. But when you put them in the 9th inning for some reasonthey either cant find the plate, or they are grooving fastballs waist high and get shelled. When you have pitcher like Chapman throwing triple digit fastballs at their knees or rising fastballs around their shoulders. Then he will drop a 94 mph slider on the hitter. who will just turn around and walk back to the dugout. Pitts Hanrahan , or Kimble of Atl. The closer is a differnt animal than the set up men


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