Sunday, November 20, 2016
Hanging Up the Spikes
Buried deep in the sports pages earlier this week was the news that Joel Hanrahan, a baseball free agent since March of 2015, had announced that he was formally retiring from baseball. Hanrahan pitched for parts of seven seasons in the majors, compiling a record of 22-18, 3.85 ERA, and recorded 100 saves. He earned over $13 million in his career, but if ever a guy defines the concept of going out not with a bang but a whimper, it's Hanrahan.
The best part of his career, of course, was spent with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Acquired in a trade from Washington in June 2009, Hanrahan pitched out of the Bucs' bullpen through the 2012 season. While with the Pirates he was a lights out relief pitcher. He appeared in 238 games, went 10-8 with a 2.59 ERA and recorded 82 saves. In 2010, on a genuinely terrible team that lost 105 games, Hanrahan went 4-1, 3.62 with 27 saves. He was a two time All-Star, and he was electrifying to watch, often hitting 99 and even 100 MPH with his pitches. The "Hammer Time" video that played on the PNC Park jumbotron when he came into a game gave you goosebumps.
He was traded to Boston after the 2012 season, and things went downhill for him soon after. He pitched in only nine games for the Red Sox, recording four saves, before having to undergo Tommy John surgery. He never pitched again in the major leagues. In attempting a comeback with the Tigers in 2014, he had to have Tommy John surgery a second time, and that was pretty much all she wrote.
We are oft times critical of professional athletes. They're too pampered, make too much money, and have too big a sense of entitlement, but they are also living in a profession that can be fragile and can end in an instant, as it pretty much did with Joel Hanrahan. For a brief moment in time, though, no player served the Pirates in their tenure with the team as well as Hanrahan did when he was here.
Here's wishing him a happy post-baseball life.