“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 firstname.lastname@example.org