The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, May 01, 2004

LaTroy Hawkins: Secret Agent Man

I love LaTroy Hawkins, a Chicago Cubs setup man who's on my fantasy team. He's pitched 10 2/3 innings and has generated a save and a win (though curiously, no holds). He has 11 strikeouts and a nice low ERA (2.53) and WHIP (0.94).

However my admiration for Hawkins did not reach hero-worship status until last night, when he walked in the winning run in a game against St. Louis. Yes, you read that right. He blew a game, and I love him.

After collecting my team's stats from web box scores, I turned on ESPN SportsCenter. Mostly I wanted to see Erubiel Durrazzo, who hit two home runs against the Petrograd Devil Rays and also played a nice trump squeeze to make six spades. At some point the Cubs-Redbirds game was highlighted, and I watched as various Cubs pitchers struggled in the ninth inning. Finally Hawkins issued a bases-loaded walk to lose the game.

I was mortified. Another loss from a reliever! I already have four losses from setup man Luis Ayala, and I can't take any more reliever losses. I ran back to the computer to check Hawkins' stats. I went to the ESPN scoreboard and scrolled down to the Cubs-Cardinals game. The summary listed Farnsworth as taking the loss. Crap, I thought to myself, ESPN got it wrong and Hawkins took a loss that I didn't know about. I clicked on the Game Log, which listed all events in the game.

Sure enough, it was Hawkins who walked in the winning run. But wait a minute ... earned runs are charged to the pitchers who put men on base, not to the pitchers who let them reach home plate. Could the same rule apply to losses? Well, the loss is the stupidest statistic of any human endeavor. Let's check that game log again ...

-K Farnsworth relieved K Wood.
-Bottom of the 9th inning
-A Pujols walked.
-K Mercker relieved K Farnsworth.
-J Edmonds walked, A Pujols to second.
-L Hawkins relieved K Mercker.
-S Rolen sacrificed to first, A Pujols to third, J Edmonds to second.
-E Renteria intentionally walked.
-R Sanders fouled out to first.
-M Matheny walked, A Pujols scored, J Edmonds to third, E Renteria to second.

So Hawkins could blow Matheny kisses, tell him that he really enjoyed their time together last night, and serve up a 60-MPH batting practice pitch that Matheny would blast to Cairo, Illinois. Or he could decide that a fly buzzing around home plate is quite bothersome, and throw four pitches that were a yard outside the strike zone. It's Kyle Farnsworth's problem.

Once I realized this, I immediately went to our fantasy league website to see if Farnsworth is one of my opponents' problems. Turns out Farnsworth belongs to my friend Eric.

"To leave a message for Eric, press * 3."

* 3

"Hey Eric, it's Floyd. I need to taunt you. Please call me back."



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