Los Angeles Dodgers: When “Welcome to the Jungle” Signified Game Over

Kenley Jansen

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

“Welcome to the Jungle” is a great and well known song by Guns N’ Roses. However, being a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, it is so much more than just a song to me. When that song would hit the loud speakers in Dodger Stadium, it meant it was time for me to stroke my invisible beard as the words “GAME OVER” flashed on the big screen of the stadium. This all signified the entrance of the most dominant closer at that time, Eric Gagne.

Gagne’s career while wearing the Dodger Blue will be forever tarnished because of his use of performance enhancing drugs. Even with that said, what Gagne did from 2002 to 2004 is without a shadow of a doubt a feat that deserves recognition regardless of an asterisk or PEDs.

During that span, Eric not only won a NL Cy Young, but he saved 84 straight games. Anyone who thinks Gagne only did that because of HGH has fallen off their rocker. Let’s look at it this way; if Gagne needed three outs in each of those 84 games that would be equivalent to 252 straight outs he recorded. That says a whole lot more about his nasty changeup than it does about him getting shot up with PEDs.

How do we know that some of those outs Gagne recorded weren’t made by fellow HGH users? I’m sure not everyone who used PEDs has been caught. Eric is certainly not going to reach the Hall of Fame this year and quite frankly may not make it for a very long time, but that is no reason to rain on his parade.

Gagne broke the old save record by 30. Not only is that an incredible feat, but his stats while doing it are crazy good as well. A 0.82 ERA and 141 strikeouts were racked up by Gagne during his streak. Plus, while Eric was saving 84 straight, other closers managed to blow 964 saves. That alone should put what Gagne did into perspective.

As a Dodgers’ fan I was extremely disappointed in finding out about Gagne’s HGH use, but that didn’t make me want to throw him under a bus either. I am proud to say Gagne was a closer for L.A., and I am proud to say I was able to watch Eric perform magic on the pitcher’s mound as the closer for the Dodgers.

Regardless of where I am, whenever I hear “Welcome to the Jungle” I still stroke my now visible beard and reminisce about a time when it was game over every time Gagne entered the ballgame.

Michael Pidgeon is a Los Angeles Dodgers writer for Rant Sports.com: “Like” him on Facebook, Follow him on Twitter @1AndOnlyPidgeon, add him to your network on Google or e-mail him at black24mamba@aol.com

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  • JohnKL

    252 straight outs? You don’t mean to imply that Gagne was perfect for the equivalent of 84 innings, do you, because that sounds like your assertion. Second, instead of sharing the aggregate of 964 blown saves by any pitcher not named Gagne during his streak, maybe more comparably show the average number of blown saves by MLB closers during said streak. Since Gagne (not sure how much his steroid use contributes to this next statement) was a premier closer, maybe also show the average number of blown saves by the top 5 closers in each league during his run (based simply here on save %). You’ll see the performance between Gagne and other premiere closers begin to substantially narrow. Third, are you asserting that Gagne is not only HOF worthy, but that the BBWAA would actually vote him in…eventually? Is that just a fan’s wishful thinking? Even with the convenience of hindsight, I don’t know of anyone who ever thought Gagne was headed in that direction based on his time after leaving LAD. Fourth, your assertion about certain match ups ‘leveling the playing field’ whenever Gagne may have faced a hitter with his own HGH issues is a slippery slope. Where does that analysis begin…and end? IMHO…a fresh reliever who’s just entering the game in the 9th inning typically has the advantage over a hitter who has already played a full 9 innings and has been to the plate 4 or 5 times. Steroids or not, fatigue is a factor for said hitter. Lastly, as a fan, I too enjoyed Gagne’s streak…immensely. I reveled in his success. However, his performance drop after stopping his steroid use was like a safe hitting the ground. It fell…fast…and hard. Within a couple of seasons, he had been reduced to a complete non-factor.