Fans of W.E.B. Griffin’s potboiler series on the WWII-era Marine Corps will remember the character of Lt. R.B. Macklin III. He has come to life, and is now wearing number 21 for the Marlins. Demonstrating a finely honed inability to accept blame for failed performance, Heath Bell has most convincingly earned the horns of the goat he now wears. Signed as a rock-star closer in last winter’s shopping spree, the only target Bell seems able to hit is his own foot. Blowing seven saves, unable to close the door even once for the first two months of the season, and sporting a 5.15 ERA, we now learn that it is Showtime’s fault. Wait…Not Showtime, it was John Buck’s fault. Or not. It was Randy St.Claire.
Can he get any weaker? I suppose he could hit the talk-show circuit and learn how to perform a weepy catharsis for the likes of the hosts of The View. How about a self-serving open letter to the Miami Herald? Crawl back to San Diego on his knees like a pathetic supplicant?
The idea that a blown save is anything other than the fault of the guy throwing the pitch is a clear indicator of a level of narcissism rarely found in professional sports, and usually only seen in players with the habit of referring to themselves in the third person. If you need an example, look for clips of interviews with Ricky Henderson.
I don’t see any way that Bell can recover from the hole he’s dug himself. He’s lost the respect of his teammates by blaming his catcher (!) for calling bad pitches. John Buck may have had a cold bat for most of the year, and he may need to spend some time doing transfer and blocking drills, but he gets his signs shaken off less than any other catcher I watched this season. Bell has lost all credibility with his manager after having bolloxed up each of many opportunities to regain his job as the closer. He’s shot himself in the foot with Beinfest, Samson, and Loria for running his mouth to the press. He’s probably lost any shot at a closing job anywhere else in the league because he appears to have forgotten how to dominate ninth-inning batters, and now has the reputation of a whiny man-child.
Worst of all, he’s lost his self-respect by dropping blame grenades, and probably doesn’t realize it.