Chris Perez trudged back to the dugout, shoulders slumped, a grim look on his face. Boos rained down from the 43,190 Indians fans who'd just seen their team's closer blow the game on Opening Day. It was a sad scene, even for a city that has witnessed The Fumble, The Modell, The Decision, and a decades-long title-less streak that would choke the optimism out of even the most devoted sports towns.
But for all the ill will that would cause a fan base to start booing mercilessly one game into the season, Perez shouldn't have absorbed all that blame. Some wondered if Manny Acta should have been called out, after the Indians skipper pulled Justin Masterson following eight innings of spectacular pitching. Wrong again.
If you're an Indians fan still rattled by Thursday's disaster, or just a baseball fan sick of suboptimal decisions resulting in painful losses, the man to blame is a late Chicago sportswriter named Jerome Holtzman. Fifty-three years ago, in an effort to shift more recognition unto underappreciated relief pitchers, Holtzman invented the save statistic. Today, that invention is responsible for far more unintended consequences, and far more heartache, than Holtzman could have ever intended. Bloody battles are fought over the ill-begotten riches that saves bestow on those who can get them. Managers lose games for their teams by getting seduced by saves. Pitchers who fail in save situations get labeled as gutless pariahs.
It needs to end now. It's time to kill the save, send it to hell, and strand it there for eternity.