- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Meredith: No, he didn't. He came from the outside linebacker spot.
Cosell: I know, but I never thought that kid would still be around.
Meredith: Well, he never thought you'd still be here, either.
As the Dodgers and Phillies prepared for Game 1 of the National League playoffs, San Diego Relief Pitcher Rollie Fingers appeared at Dodger Stadium to accept the Fireman of the Year award, which goes to the major league pitcher with the most saves. After nine seasons at Oakland, in which he helped the A's win three World Series but never led the league in saves, Fingers finally got individual recognition while pitching for a fifth-place team. He topped all relievers in both leagues with 35 saves, three shy of John Hiller's major league record.
One reason why Fingers never led the American League in saves at Oakland is that he had a little help from his bullpen friends—Paul Lindblad, Darold Knowles and Jim Todd. This year, though, he had a friend in the dugout—Manager Alvin Dark. In an attempt to help Fingers get the record, Dark used him exclusively in save situations; in fact, Fingers only worked more than two full innings five times after June 27.
Such managerial collusion is far from unprecedented. In 1972, when Clay Carroll set the NL record of 37 saves, Sparky Anderson kept bringing him in in the final innings. And, as it happens, Fingers really needed Dark's help—the save rule has been changed since Carroll's record-setting year. In 1972 the only requirement for a save was for a pitcher to finish the game. Now a reliever has to face the tying run either on base, at bat or on deck, or protect a lead of no more than three runs for at least an inning.
Dark, of course, claimed he had a nobler motive. "I decided not to use Rollie for more than an inning or two," he said. "I want him strong and healthy two years from now when we become contenders."
Congratulations, Fingers. And to Alvin, lots of luck.
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