Tuesday, February 20, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #71 Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon, RP, #36 (1996-1999)

25-25, 68 saves, 4.45 ERA, 175 G

As the first capsule profile of a top 100 Red Sox that Jose has dared to write, there was no formula for Jose to draw upon, none of the comforting rituals of banality in which to swaddle himself. So it falls to Jose to dive in forthwith lest he be branded Hamlet on the Charles. So let’s take a look at a moment, a single instant of time, that made Tom “Flash” Gordon the Red Sox legend he is today.

Gordon stands astride the Fenway mound, his wool cap tight and drawn down over his eyes, blinders to his thoroughbred, eliminating all distractions and concentrating all focus on the task at hand. He draws his hands in to his chest purposefully, like a spring compressing. What will it be? The 97 miles per hour of dynamite? Or the curve that shaves six hours off the face of a clock? The switch flipped, the spring that is Tom Gordon expands with violence, sending the a blur of red and white, pinball-like down the alley and towards home plate…

And then…

Tom Gordon’s greatest Red Sox moment arrives.

It arrives not with the slap of a ball in the tired leather of a well-worn catcher’s mitt, but with the thunderclap of ash on horsehide, as David Ortiz swings as smoothly and as surely as a pinball flipper on a spoke, and sends the ball flying, as if rolling up a ramp and into the Boston night.

Yankees 4--Red Sox 3 and six outs to go. TILT.

Yup, Tom Gordon did a lot for the Boston Red Sox, and we should appreciate him. Heck, he did more that night alone, walking Kevin Millar, and panicking with Dave Roberts pinch running for Kentucky Fried Kevin, allowing Mosey Nixon to slap single Roberts to third on a hit and run. He did more for the Red Sox that one night than in his entire stint with the team. And that’s why he is one of the all time greatest Red Sox, even if it was for his work in pinstripes.

But of course this is totally unfair. In his time with the Red Sox, Tom Gordon was, well, flashy. He came aboard as a starter, as he had been in Kansas City before, and put in mediocre inning after mediocre inning before trying his hand in the bullpen. It was then that he discovered that free from the awful burden of pitching more than one or two innings at a time, he could throw quite a bit harder. Indeed, he was almost incapable of blowing a save, at least between April and September. But in October things were different. When the apples got big and ripe, Gordon would wither and fade, such as in 1998, when his blown save against Cleveland in Game 4 of the ALDS, only his second of the season, prevented Jimy Williams from looking like a genius for starting Pete Schourek over Pedro Martinez. At least some good came of it. No, Gordon seemed to be a Vanderjagt or Schiraldi, brilliant in the regular season and soft in the post season, than he did a Mariano Rivera.

It got worse, Sox fan and author Steven King authored a book that off-season entitled The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon with predictable results. King got hit by a truck and Gordon blew out his arm, all but ending his Red Sox tenure. We all know King is comfortable meddling with the forces of the dark, but seriously, he should have known that messing around with the Red Sox would have dire results.

Biography penned by Jose Melendez of Keys to the Game.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

r u kidding me??????? gordon ahead of
mueller and foulke??? r u insane?

Brian said...

"r u kidding me??????? gordon ahead of
mueller and foulke??? r u insane? "

Says the anonymous fan who never heard of the Red Sox until 2004.

Paul A. said...

No joke. Tom Gordon holds the Red Sox' single-season saves record, anon. Doubt you knew that, though.

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