A major part of the Detroit Tigers’ recent struggles emerge from their faltering, unreliable bullpen, lacking a decent closer. Decent. That’s a modest word to use in these regards, to say the least.
When the Tigers signed closer Joe Nathan, sighs of relief streamed throughout all of Detroit. Finally, Detroit acquired the missing piece to their puzzle for a World Series championship. Now, fans are booing that signing as often as they can, and rightfully so.
Nathan hasn’t been the premiere closer his former reputation has preceded him to be. Now, he’s below average, lacking confidence in his ability. He’s saved 25 of 31 games, which isn’t impressive at all. In fact, it’s quite mediocre and disgusting. Those aren’t numbers someone of his high caliber should be posting, not in the least. Not when Detroit’s paying him 10 million dollars a year.
But hey, guys have bad seasons, right? It’s not out of the ordinary to struggle, true. But what is out of the ordinary, is making finger gestures towards the fans that translate into F bombs, complaining about understandable fan reactions, and to have a negative attitude towards fellow teammates.
If only the roll Nathan’s on these days would be about saves; instead, it’s about his childish and rude behavior towards the fans. After apologizing for his offensive gestures, he still continues to bash the fans, with critical comment after critical comment.
After Nathan’s sixth blown save, he provided this careless statement:
“This is not going to ruin my day. It’s not going to do anything like that. I’m going to still go get some dinner, go to sleep, wake up and do it again … I know the fans sometimes make it seem like if we’re not perfect as bullpen guys, we’re not doing our job. … It’s not that easy, and we’re not robots. And I’m not going to go home and hang my head because of one game.”
Acknowledging that it’s your sixth blown save should be a bit more severe than that, Joe.
Nathan also shoved third baseman Nick Castellanos into the heat of criticism earlier this year, after a game against the Oakland Athletics earlier in the season. An error by Castellanos contributed to a blown save by Nathan. When interviewed about the incident, Nathan foolishly said the following:
“The big out there was getting Jaso, I think,” Nathan said. “You get him and it changes everything. It changes how your approach is against Donaldson. It changes how you can pitch to him. It gives me a chance to play with him a little bit. When I guess we didn’t get Jaso, it puts you in a tough spot. First and third. Real good hitter at the plate. It kind of forces me to go after one of the better hitters in the lineup. Like I said, Jaso was the out that we thought we had, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.”
Joe, let’s take a moment and soak in reality. You’ve blown many saves before that, and haven’t been on top of your game. Throwing a rookie — A ROOKIE! — underneath the bus, isn’t salvaging your tarnished reputation. It’s not retracting the horrendous play of yours.
Nathan’s made abominable gestures towards fans, throws teammates under the bus, and then calls out the fans, saying they need to be more supportive.
This isn’t high school ball, Joe. You and the Tigers are professional athletes; the motivation should come from within. Fans are going to boo when their team’s play has been consistently atrocious. Fans are going to boo when their closer has blown numerous saves. And fans are certainly going to boo when their home players are criticizing, cursing, and whining like five-year olds.
Nathan has over five blown saves, holds a 5.20 ERA, and a nasty attitude. If he wants the support of the fans, he needs to shape his repulsive attitude upward. Not to mention, his pitches get lit up, and he would’ve had more blown saves if not for some lucky, good plays by his outfielders.
Here’s the message, Joe: close games, and close your mouth. Otherwise, nothing will change for you.