Did you see Ratatouille? It might be my favorite of the Pixars, which I think makes me unusual, because most people claim, I don't know, The Incredibles or Wall-E or something. I mean, they're definitely great, but Ratatouille is my preference.
Anyway, in the climactic bit, when the food critic Anton Ego is delivering his judgment on the rat's performance, he says:
In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto, "Anyone can cook." But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist *can* come from *anywhere*.
Statheads like to insist that any reliever can close, that there's no "special ingredient" that makes a closer into a closer. Ryan Madson couldn't close, until he did. The Giants needed to hold on to Brian Wilson because Sergio Romo might not be closer-worthy. "With Mariano Rivera retiring, what will happen with David Robertson?" It happens all the time.
To be fair, there are failures. Ronald Belisario took over for the injured Matt Lindstrom last week, and has given up five runs in three innings since Tuesday. J.J. Hoover was the first thought to be the Reds' closer with Aroldis Chapman hurt at the start of the season, but he blew his first two opportunities and had an 18.90 ERA after his fifth outing.
But there are easily as many success stories as there are failures. Heck, there are probably way more. No one has any sort of idea who will succeed as a closer or who will fail. There's no magic personality quiz that says whether you can handle the pressure, such as it is - anyway, the idea that there is significantly more pressure up 3-0 in the ninth facing 7-8-9 in the order than there is up 2-1 with one out in the eighth, the bases loaded, and the No. 3 hitter up is fairly gibberish anyway.
(Not for nothing, but that last sentence had me imagining a Buzzfeed "Can you handle the closer role?" quiz, which would be hilarious.)
Can anyone close? In my head, anyone who can pitch can close. Bad pitchers can't close, but bad pitchers can't really middle-relieve either. So, just adapt what Anton Ego said: "Not everyone can become a great closer, but a great closer *can* come from *anywhere*."
Here are this week's closer rankings. As always, the first list is for right now; the second is for the rest of the season. (Note the First: Because of technology issues -- i.e. I'm bad at technology and ran out of time -- there is no "Thoughts" columns this week. I had thoughts, but no time to tell them to you. Note the Second: Because of technology issues -- note a theme -- this is three or four hours late today, because the first time I published it, it was an old version that didn't actually have the rankings on it. Sigh. Note the Third: If anyone wants to come to my house and give me a technology tutorial like I'm an 84-year-old man, I'll send you my address.) Now, on to the rankings: