Eric Gagne, poster boy for the ills of steroid use, is injured again. In the ninth inning of the series finale with Oakland yesterday, Gagne threw two pitches before walking off the mound with an apparent hip injury.
Rangers manager Ron Washington seemed a but peeved, “Gagne has a right hip sprain. He’s day-to-day, but it is not a back problem. It is always a concern when you see your closer act up on the mound.”
OK, can we please now just come out and all agree that Gagne’s record for consecutive saves (84 in a row) and his 2003 NL Cy Young Award are both tainted? As tainted as any of Barry Bonds’ achievements and Ken Caminiti’s 1996 NL MVP Award.
Gagne went from mediocre starter with a low-90’s fastball to Incredible Hulk-looking closer with a 98 mph fastball, a lame “Game Over” intro graphic and a ridiculous goatee. In three seasons as a starter he amassed a record of 11-14 before being switched to a closer at the start of the 2002 season. He saved 52 games that year. In 2003 he converted 55 of 55 save chances, becoming the fastest pitcher to ever reach the 100-save plateau.
In 2004 baseball announced they would be testing for steroids on an experimental basis, in a completely unrelated story, Gagne lost some of his effectiveness that season. Then in 2005 with a more stringent policy in effect, his body began to fall apart. He had Tommy John surgery in June of that year, then in 2006 he had more elbow issues and back pain before undergoing season-ending surgery on July 8.
OK, so an amazingly dominant guy’s body falls apart right as baseball introduces a new stronger steroid policy. Hmmm, yeah we’re sure it’s all just a big coincidence.
Either way, our assessment? Career Over.