“The two most important things in life….” Bob Gibson

The two most important things in life: good friends and a strong bullpen. St. Louis Cardinal Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson

It is that time of the year when each game seems magnified. When a win needs to be a win and when a game that should have been won ends up as a loss, it hurts. Pitchers are tired, it is hot and the pressure is intensifying each day. That is why you have bullpens.

But the bullpen has been through this season as well and come August it gets tougher for that crew as well. Take yesterday as an example, Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save in 25 career chances against Toronto. Toronto scored four in the 9th to beat the Red Sox, 6-5. It was his sixth blown save of the season.

It was a bad day to be a closer named Jonathan. The Phillies scored four in the 8th and four in the 9th and topped Jonathan Broxton and the Dodgers, 10-9. Broxton blew his fifth save of the season

Pinch-hitter Andres Torres hit a bases-loaded walkoff single against Andrew Cashner and the Giants beat the Cubs, 8-7.

Oh, and Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez was charged with third-degree assault and second-degree harassment after police said Rodriguez grabbed his father-in-law from a Citi Field family lounge, struck him in the face and banged his head against the wall.

And that was just yesterday.

I can give you more examples of bullpen pain, I can give you stats about blown saves and too many appearances, but what I have chosen to do is give you some quotes because you deserve some relief.

A closer’s psyche and performance are not just about the ninth inning. The bullpen as a whole is a living breathing organism. The closer is its head. If the closer isn’t right then the rest of the bullpen tends to get out of sync. When the closer fails a couple of times in a row, it disrupts the energy and equilibrium of the rest of his mate. Former GM and commentator Steve Phillips

I get the ball, I throw the ball, and then I take a shower. Greatest reliever of all-time Mariano Rivera

You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the goddamn plate and give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all. Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver

A lot of long relievers are ashamed to tell their parents what they do. The only nice thing about it is that you get to wear a uniform like everybody else. Pitcher and author Jim Bouton

A lot of relief pitchers develop a crazy facade, and it’s this facade that helps the deal with the pressure. Of course, maybe it’s only the crazies that want to be relief pitchers. Reliever Skip Lockwood

When I first came up, the bullpen was pretty much where they put the guys who couldn’t start. Hall of Fame starter and reliever and brilliant commentator Dennis Eckersley

Ninety percent I’ll spend on good times, women and Irish whisky. The other 10 percent I’ll probably waste. Late, great reliever and fabulous human Tug McGraw on money

When you’re out there in the big league pressure cooker, a pitcher’s attitude — his utter confidence that he has an advantage of will and luck and guts over the hitter — is almost as important as his stuff. Baseball’s great genius and owner Bill Veeck

A pitcher needs two pitches, one they’re looking for and one to cross them up. Hall of Fame lefty Warren Spahn

I found a delivery in my flaw. All-Star reliever Dan Quisenberry

You don’t save a pitcher for tomorrow. Tomorrow it may rain. Famed baseball player and manager Hall of Famer Leo Durocher

I’d rather be lucky than good. Goofy pitcher Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez (his nickname was Goofy)

It took me a few years to realize that throwing harder wasn’t always better. Dennis Eckersley

All of his saves have come in relief appearances. Hall of Fame player and announcer Ralph Kiner

I’ve seen the future and it’s much like the present only longer. Dan Quisenberry

Even if you see him sitting around chewing gum and planning the next practical joke he can play on a teammate, you should understand what makes him special. Whether he is a conventional closer or a “freak”, when he gets that last out cheer a little louder knowing he just got the toughest out of the game.

Not everyone can do it.

Steve Phillips

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Rest In Peace

After I hit a home run I had a habit of running the bases with my head down. I figured the pitcher already felt bad enough without me showing him up rounding the bases.

Mickey Mantle 10/20/31 – 8/13/95