By: Eric Thomas
F Scott Fitzgerald, author of the book which inspired the new Leonardo DiCaprio movie, once said, “There are no second acts in American lives.” Luckily, Jose Valverde is Dominican, so his second act begins now. The former All-Star closer, whose roller coaster career is beginning to take the same arc as his innings, has been activated by the Detroit Tigers and may even pitch in today’s game.
Tiger fans all around metro Detroit wonder what terrible thing they have done to deserve this. Media members all around metro Detroit wonder what wonderful thing they have done to deserve this. Valverde struggled a bit in last year’s post season, an understatement which rises to the level of calling the Pacific Ocean “damp.”
Callers, hosts and Twitter will spend the next several hours spinning like a flywheel at while we all process the news, it’s instructive to step back and view this latest roster move in a wider lens. While Valverde’s post season performance should have doomed him to obscurity, it certainly did with the other twenty-nine baseball teams – including the Astros – there is a bright side.
Here are five reasons Jose Valverde’s return to the Tigers could be a good thing.
1. The bar is low – Sometimes you can be a victim of your own success. Valverde, as far as his save opportunities, was perfect in 2011. Plenty of those “saves” left fans in desperate need of nitroglycerine caps, but Papa Grande pulled through in the clutch. Now that Tigers fans have seen blown games by a number of different pitchers, they might be more likely to give Valverde a mulligan.
2. It makes an awesome story – It’s the beginning of a great movie. The team is struggling, the call is made to the washed up closer, living in a far away land in a windswept shack surrounded by sand, its walls are barely more than clapboard held together with stringy bamboo that moves creamily in the heavy breeze from the ocean. The former closer has a distended belly, sandpaper stubble and personal demons galore. The general manager says that the team needs him, the closer snorts that he’s finished, washed up, out of the game, retired, so go find some other stooge to do your dirty work. The general manager tells him the ticket’s waiting at the airport, head cocked to the ceiling with a knowing look; because he knows that the closer still “has it,” deep down in his belly, he still burns with the desire to prove himself and even though the closer has rebuffed him with a dismissive tone, he still gives him time to make up his mind. This didn’t happen. It would cool if it did. Forest Whitaker should play Valverde; he may be a little old but he’s a great actor.
3. It adds some intrigue to April – Just think Tiger fans, something to evaluate! April baseball is too early to make decisions; you don’t panic until game forty, blah blah blah. With Valverde, Tiger fans get to play the audience of the Gong Show. If he does well, love him. If he blows it, he leaves the park like Andrew Golata.
4. It gives Rondon some time – Bruce Rondon doesn’t have to get the last three outs yet. Bringing Valverde in at the same time means that he will have time to pitch in the big leagues before moving into the closer role. Grande also takes heat off the Rondon zone, proved by the fact that this blog is about Valverde and not the youngster.
5. It makes things exciting – Let’s face it, when the Tigers were blowing out teams last week, it was boring. With Valverde, no lead is safe. It doesn’t matter if the Tigers are up 28-2; you’re going to watch all nine. No one slides out to beat the traffic. It’s a suspense movie until the last guy is out. You don’t just need peanuts and crackerjacks, you might need a defibrillator.