The Last Word
Sports Illustrated baseball writer Jeff Pearlman rakes Trevor Hoffman through the coals
Posted: Wednesday October 21, 1998 12:52 PM
Last night, in the Qualcomm Stadium madhouse, Trevor Hoffman inherited a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth andto the shock of the cityblew the damn thing. Excuses, as always, were made. Hoffman hadn't pitched in several days. Manager Bruce Bochy didn't use him right. The Yankees are destined. The stars were aligned incorrectly.
Whatever. Hoffman was done in by the same thing that'd helped him time and time before; the same thing that gave San Diego a certain spark du jour, if you will: AC/DC's Hell's Bell's, a modern-day Hoosiers, killed the Padres.
Music, just like an inspirational flick, pumps the blood and sets the scene. It provides an identity. Trevor Hoffmanbad song, bad man. AC/DC makes him want to throw fire and come at anyone dumb enough to stand in his way. It had 64,667 fanatics pumping their heads and waving their hankies. Yeah, nasty Trevor and his Hell's Bells. Game over.
One problem. The Trevor Hoffman of the 1998 regular season, with his 95-mph heater and unhittable changeup and slider, has been gone for quite some time. Last night Hoffman's fastball was clocked between 87-91. "He's tired," said Dave Stewart , San Diego's pitching coach. "It's been a long season." Worse, his changeup was breaking 10 feet in front of the plate. New York third baseman Scott Brosius , as un-Hell's Bells as they come, plugged his ears and saw the reality. Hoffman strutted and scowled, but his tank was empty. His stuff was crud. His game was gone. He threw a meatball 2-2 fastball, and Brosius crushed it over the centerfield wall and into Russian-occupied territories.
Hoffman, who notched 53 saves during the regular season, no longer looked so tough. His image, just like Kevin Brown 's, is history. So, it seems, is his arm. Worst of all, there's no need for the song anymore. It's just not a tune worth singing.
Brain teaser: My colleague Mark Bechtel and I had some time to fill in the pressbox last night. We spent some time musing on the following question: If you were coming to the plate, what song would be your theme? (answer below)
Yes, he was terrible: How pathetic was Hoffman? Until Paul O'Neill batted with two outs in the top of the ninth, not one of the eight other Yankees who faced him chased a slider or changeup.
Bad investment? True Value is the official hardware store of Major League Baseball. When do you suppose was the last time any of these millionaires used a wrench?
Brain teaser answers: Mark: Hooked on a Feeling
Me: Everybody Wang Chung Tonight
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