Reed's no-decision is a good reflection of his career
Posted: Sunday October 17, 1999 01:53 AM
By Jamal Greene, Sports Illustrated
NEW YORK -- Like the team he pitches for, Rick Reed has been left for dead before. In the spring of 1995, after spending portions of nine straight seasons in the minors, Reed answered a casting call.
Scabs wanted! No experience necessary! Earn future considerations!
Alas, as was to be expected, those "considerations" came from management alone.
In the eyes of many fellow players, Reed had broken the sacred code of the eternal order of grossly-overpaid strikers by choosing employment. He'd been humble, a sin punishable by death. Or as close to death as is months of being ignored by one's own teammates in a baseball clubhouse, where testosterone and male bonding spend their summer vacations.
Bide your time, Rick. Climb the ladder.
Though some may have wanted him to, Reed didn't go away. In three years with the Mets, Reed has won 40 of 65 decisions, big and small. The six straight wins he earned in July and early August of this season have as much to do with the Mets being in the playoffs as anything, and his must-win shutout of the Pirates during the season's final weekend is one of the great clutch pitching performances in club history.
Reed hates to talk about '95, even outright refusing to discuss it with the media. He is quick to remind us that the strike was almost five years ago -- ancient history -- too far in the past to warrant a question. Most of his teammates have put it behind them as well. Everybody, it seems, likes a winner.
So if anyone could stare death-alias John Smoltz in the face and refuse to blink, it was Reed. Smoltz has earned a place beside Gibson, Ford and Mathewson in the pantheon of big-game pitchers.
He entered last night's start 12-3 lifetime in the postseason with a sparkling 2.55 ERA. The win totals don't even reflect two of his brightest gems, his seven and one-third scoreless innings against Jack Morris and the Twins in Game 7 of the '91 World Series, and a no decision-and his eight innings of one-run ball in a Game 5 loss to the Yankees' Andy Pettitte in the '96 Classic.
For Smoltz, last night was another postseason, another pitcher's duel. For Reed, it was a chance to stop near the top of the ladder and take a long, deep, breath.
Almost there, Rick. Just a couple more rungs.
Last night, Reed and Smoltz got a pair of no decisions that neither deserved. Reed faced the minimum number of batters until Brian Jordan and Ryan Klesko hit back-to-back homers to lead off the eighth. And until John Olerud deposited a 1-1 fastball over the left-field wall in the sixth, Smoltz matched Reed almost hitter-for-hitter. For Reed, earning a no-decision in a winning cause must have been a lot more sweet than bitter. Not only did his team win, but he took another giant step away from the past.
When most working stiffs dive back into the fire on Monday morning, Reed may well be on his way back to Proctorville, Ohio, his team deader than Hoffa, but he still breathing, still breathing, still breathing.