The game was still going on and the corpse still warm when an attorney I know sent me an email:
“You can publish your apology post re: Nathan any time now, Howard.”
To his credit — and for purposes of context — there was a smiley face at the end of the note, which kept me from replying.
“Do you apologize every time you lose a case in court?”
Others offered up thoughts that reflected on them more readily than the closer who decided to give up on his fastball for some unexplained reason.
Not all of them were as reasoned as the frequent commenter Bufftwins, who hit just the right note with his comment on La Velle’s blog: “From 0-2 with two out and nobody on to losing 4-2. Unreal! A great pitching effort by a rookie ruined by a struggling veteran who has lost faith in his fastball!”
Among those whose rantings sounded like someone upchucked on their birthday cake:
“Batters are not afraid of him he’s one of the easiest hit closers in the game, and also he’s way overpaid.”
“BLOWN SAVE!!! SOB!”
“There needs to be stat for not only blown saves, but near blown saves (i.e. allowing tying runs on). I bet Joe is one of the leaders in that. He’s still probably better than average, but fact is he’s still never closed out a big game.”
“Weren’t Nathan and Morneau complaining at the deadline? Lol, these (deleted)… should never talk again… Mauer is the only one that should have a say in anything … and Jose Morales.”
“This game should be hung squarely on Nathan…..Its called a BLOWN save. That is he (sic) one and only job. And he sucks at it!”
“Don’t praise Nathan for all the saves.We have to have about 5 runs more than the other team and than (sic) its (sicII) nail biting when he comes in for the save.”
“Theres always excuses for Joe Nathan. I think its time you find a different CLOSER. And look what he gets paid. 45 million?”
“Nathan blows. “
“Way to blow another save Joe. I enjoyed watching you make the walk of shame today. It was about time Gardy pulled you as he’s pulled so many of the pitchers this season. He should have been booed along with Guerrier. I would have pulled Nathan after the first home run and then walked Konerko. I can’t believe I am saying this, but they should have put in Crain. At least it would have been tied. “
And here’s an edited transcript of a comment that’s representative of those that were deleted or didn’t make it through the moderation powers of the blogs. And if you wonder why more comments have been moderated recently, let’s just say you should have been on this side of the web wall yesterday.
“For all you Joe Nathan lovers, stick it up all your …, statistics and all! This guy is the most overrated closer in the game, he stinks in high pressure situations. I REPEAT HE IS NOT AN ELITE CLOSER AND HE JUST SHOWED YOU WHY!!!! What a pathetic performance, the guy’s arm is shot, no fastball worth a crap. Come on all you stinking stat hounds tell me how much you love this blower, tell me! You want him in the playoffs, this guy is fried, give me MO,PAPPLEBON OR K-ROD any day of the stinking week. TRADE HIM OR CUT HIS SAD … LOOSE.”
Tough times call for tough talk, I guess.
Yeah, Joe Nathan’s struggled lately. He said that his pitches were “too predictable” yesterday and he lost faith in a fastball that clocked at 94 yesterday. That’s just wrong and he picked the wrong time to overthink. It’s fair to expect him to snap out of it … and also fair to wonder if there’s something physically amiss. I have no insights there and I don’t expect the Twins to be especially forthcoming about any suspicions they might have.
But I wrote earlier this year that one of the reasons I like baseball so much is that when your team plays well, it feels really good. When they mess up, it’s just annoying. I think I wrote that good baseball is a plus-8 on the emotions scale and bad baseball is a minus-2.
Nathan’s blow-up may have been a minus-3. But frankly, it made me more sad than upset.
He’s better than that. And, quite frankly, the majority of the comments in the postgame gloom and into the night, were better than the sampling repeated above. Many people showed that it’s possible to be upset and frustrated and write the same things that you’d write if you had to sign your real name to your thoughts.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a Facebook exchange from late last night:
220 in Minneapolis: Hope you had a better day than Joe Nathan.
Young 220 in Oklahoma: yeah that kinda ruined my day haha
i wanted it unfold while i was in class
very very difficult not to make a scene
So good to know that college is teaching him to multitask.
Off day today. And high school football starts tonight. Look both ways before you cross the street.
As our frequent commenter Jason said, “We’ll fight again Friday, friends.”