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Tuesday, September 7, 2010
My advice to Trevor Hoffman


If I hope that Trevor Hoffman never saves another game, does that make me a bad person?

I like round numbers. They're easier to remember.

I'll never remember exactly how many games Greg Maddux or Randy Johnson won. But I'll never forget that Lefty Grove and Early Wynn both finished their careers with exactly 300 wins.

* Granted, in both cases it was mostly accidental. After winning his 300th, Grove started three more games but didn't pitch more than one inning in any of them. Wynn wheezed to the finish line, too. After winning his 300th -- his only win in his last season -- Wynn started just once, pitching mostly relief in losing team efforts.

I'll never remember how many hits Wade Boggs or Tony Gwynn or George Brett finished with. But I'll never forget that Roberto Clemente finished his career with exactly 3,000 hits.

So yes, it's selfish of me to hope that Hoffman stops right where he is. But wouldn't it be better for him, too? Assuming this is his last season, there are only two things he can still do. He can 1) pad his stats just a little bit, or 2) finish his career with a number that nobody will forget, for as long as people still care about baseball.

The only real advantage to padding his stats would be the possibility that he'll eventually hold the saves record for another decade or two. But there's just not enough he can do, in the season's remaining few weeks, to put much distance between himself and Mariano Rivera.

Rivera's got 555 saves right now. If he pitches for two more seasons and is reasonably healthy, he's going to rack up something like 65 more. That would make 620, and Hoffman's obviously not going to save 20 more games this month. Historically speaking, then, there's nothing to be gained from a few more saves and everything to be gained by sitting tight with 600 on the nose.

Not that anyone asked me.