Jon Rauch's aura amidst the modern and classic closer
Part of being a top closer in baseball is the ability to mesh a special recipe of swagger with stuff. Whether it be distinct facial hair, a unique delivery or entrance music akin to a combat sports' soundtrack -- many of the top closers since the save stat became official in 1969 have offered some distinguishing characteristic, eccentric attitude or aberrant creed.
Between 2004-09, Joe Nathan presented a mix of twitches and pitches in saving 246 for the
Twins. And while the man pitching in his stead may not sport Nathan's impressive resume nor his exploding slider, Jon Rauch has fast grabbed the fallen reins of Nathan's injured whinny. Along with his MLB-best six saves in as many chances, Rauch undoubtedly looks the part. Standing 6-11', he's the tallest player in Major League history. The neck tattoos climbing toward the zenith of his imposing frame paint a canvass of end game intimidation. All told, Rauch is painted in numerous images about his back, legs, arms and shoulders. Yet the most visible, again, are those neck tats. The one on the back is the Roman numeral "I," that represents his wedding date running down his spine. The other, on the right side of his neck, is also a nod to his bride, in the form of their wedding rings circled by an olive wreath.
Image via Topps
Of course, all that paint would pop with far less meaning if Rauch wasn't inking the stat sheet with such aplomb. But given his stellar answers to the Twins most lingering question entering this 2010 campaign, I'm curious where readers think Rauch's closer aura ranks among the distinct looks & vibes of these following contemporaries, closing luminaries and cultural notables. Rauch may never match their lifetime numbers -- but is he in the mix with their mien? Please share your impressions herein.
Eric Gagne's glasses:
(187 career saves, 1999-2008) Image via Wiki
Dan Quisnberry's submarine delivery:
(244 saves, 1979-1990)
The beards of Bruce Sutter and Jeff Reardon
(Sutter: 300 saves, 1976-1988; Reardon: 367 saves, 1979-1994)
Jonathan Papelbon's dance moves
(154 saves, 2005-Present)
Rollie Fingers' spaghetti mustache
(341 saves, 1968-1985)
Images via Topps
Goose Gossage's Fu Manchu
(310 saves, 1972-1994)
Image via Willie Zhang,
Mitch Williams' follow-through
(192 saves, 1986-1997) Image via Topps
John Rocker's rage
(88 saves, 1998-2003)
Lee Smith's immense size
(478 saves, 1980-1997)
Images via Topps
Mariano Rivera's entrance music
(531 saves, 1995-Present)
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