So this topic was meant to be one of our “throwdown” posts. Unfortunately, Red and I got a little more heated than usual “discussing” the subject, and let’s just say there was alcohol involved and things got a little dicey and leave it at that. But I can’t let my voice go unheard on this.
I can’t argue against Urbina – you light someone on fire and wield a machete, you bring intimidation to a new level.
But for my money, the most intimidating closer ever to emerge from the Red Sox bullpen was one Lee Arthur Smith. Granted he only played a couple of seasons in Boston, but man, when that black, sweat-covered mountain shambled out of the ‘pen, it was lights-out time. Just his walk – not run…not jog…walk – to the mound was an event. Fans in the bleachers and the right field corner would be bowing to him, sweat running in rivers down his face, dripping off his glistening ‘fro – the guy made sweat a weapon. And those eyes…just friggin’ scary.
The only guy that came close in sheer intimidation was Tom Gordon. The way he’d keep the brim of his cap pulled down low and you couldn’t even see his eyes. But if you were a batter you knew, you just knew, he was looking right through you. If Stephen King puts you in the title of one of his books, you’re a badass, plain and simple. Cujo, that goddamn clown from IT that still haunts my sleep, and Tom Gordon: do you want to take on any of them? That’s what I thought.
Of course the Sox had their share of closers who were pretty much the opposite of intimidating.
Rick Aguilera? He looked like an extra in a bad lumberjack movie.
Keith Foulke? Nails in the ’04 postseason, but another not-so-imposing figure, kind of…squishy looking.
Even Papelbon –I love the guy and he’s got a great game face – but once you’ve seen a man Irish step dance in his undies, the intimidation factor drops a few notches.
Dare we bring up Heathcliff Slocumb? Intimidating only to his starting pitchers as they watched another “W” turn into a no decision.
Finally, if anyone needs to know how to get out of the locked trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic after being stuffed into it unceremoniously by a raving mad, six-foot-four, drunken redhead, let me know.