Any former NCAA bracket owner knows that #1-seeds don’t lose in the first round – ever. And with the fire in Dennis Eckersley‘s eyes, the doe-like innocence of Terry Felton wasn’t going to be the first to prevail. Eckersley moves on. Much like Rich Gale falling to Rollie Fingers the week before, the haughty style of the legendary closer is too much for mere mortals to overcome.
So what is it about closers in our sample? This week’s #1 is, once again, a bullpen ace. Although, to be fair, his style is more huggable than fierce, and his card more lovable than flaming hot.
#8. 1981 Donruss Mike Flanagan
This is some straight-up b-crap. Oh, he’s a loony lefty, a funny guy, he won’t care if we use a g-damn fuzzy picture for his card. You can’t even see my mustache. That’s not me throwing a pitch, that’s me dropping a frigging turd on the offices of Donruss. Oh I didn’t follow up my Cy Young season with greatness in 1980, did I? Well if someone could find my stinking strikeout rate, we could iron that little hiccup out, couldn’t we? Way to pick a winner to represent me, tourney president. I’ve got a one-finger salute for you.
#1. 1981 Fleer Bruce Sutter
Ah hey Flanny, it’s all good. Look how silly I look in my picture! A closer, with a bat! Look at the playful smile on my face, the self-aware yet modest gentleness of a closer that has just averaged over 100 innnings and 30 saves for four straight years and still has all those great years to come. Yeah, okay, my picture is better than yours. It’s okay. I got frigging trophies with Rolaids on em, you got a Cy Young. And it only took me like how many years to get in the Hall? I once struck out three dudes on nine pitches and now they’re already calling that a Kimbrel instead of a Sutter. But I won’t let any of that get me down. Hey, buddy, let’s go grab a soda and talk pitching, whadddyasay?