Former closer Jose Mesa turns 54 today.
This guy is the author of one of my all-time favorite baseball quotes.
When he gave up a HR that cost the M's the game, he said,
"I tell you what, I throw it as hard as I can.
They hit it? They hit it. There's nothing I can do." pic.twitter.com/IV4A4ekusn
— Seth Everett (@Seth_Everett) May 22, 2020
During this time, he developed himself into one of league’s best relievers.
However, his career can be summarized by one word: inconsistency.
There were moments where Mesa looked like one of the best relievers ever, while in others he was a major liability.
Now, the right-hander has been reduced to his failures in his career.
Many of his accomplishments are relatively unknown in the context of MLB history, and he has faded to obscurity.
For many fans looking back at his career, Mesa has become an unknown relic of a past age of baseball.
Glimpses of Dominance
In 1995, Mesa put together one of the best seasons by a reliever ever.
Over 62 games, Mesa had 46 saves with a miniscule 1.13 ERA.
This earned him his first All-Star appearance and a second-place vote in the Cy Young Award.
It also got him a fourth-place MVP vote, something that is extremely rare for a relief pitcher.
He was the heart of a Cleveland Indians team that made it to their first World Series since 1954.
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) March 25, 2020
While that team didn’t win the championship, Mesa followed his performance up with another All-Star appearance in 1996.
In 1997, he had another return to form as he put up a 2.40 ERA in 82.1 innings.
He once again was able to thrive in his spot and become a dominant pitcher.
This was en route to another World Series appearance for the team as well, leading to the moment he is most known for.
The Downfall For Mesa
In Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, Mesa was on the mound against the Florida Marlins as the team had a shot to win their first title in over 40 years.
With a 2-1 lead, Mesa allowed two singles and a sacrifice fly to blow the lead.
Eventually, the Marlins won the game and series in extra innings.
For Mesa, this became his legacy in Cleveland: the pitcher who blew it.
This was also something that he became extremely sensitive to, even taking exception to his failures the following Spring Training.
Unfortunately, it seems like he never lived that down.
The following season, the Indians traded him as he failed to have the same level of success from the prior seasons.
6/27/99 – 56,530 fans watch Jose Mesa secure the final out of Seattle’s 5-2 win over Texas in the final game at the Kingdome. Dave Niehaus calls the action!#MLB #Seattle #Mariners #MarinersST #washington #PNW #final #sports #History #dome pic.twitter.com/HFsOpb4dip
— Classic MLB vids (@classicMLBvids) March 7, 2020
While he had two sub-three ERA seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2001 and 2002, the rest of his career was marked with inconsistency.
For example, in 2003 he had a whopping 6.52 ERA.
His 2007 ERA was also 7.11.
This resulted in a ballooned career ERA of 4.36, a high mark for a reliever.
Mesa finished his career with 321 saves, the 12th most when he retired.
He also became the 11th pitcher to ever appear in 1,000 games.
However, he is mainly known now for his feud with former teammate Omar Vizquel.
Jose Mesa's beef with Omar Vizquel included:
– a World Series collapse
– a mean book chapter
– multiple beanings
This is BEEF HISTORY. pic.twitter.com/rAZE2N93lR
— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 28, 2018
After Vizquel wrote about Mesa in his book, the former friendship between the two was ended.
Following this, Mesa hit Vizquel when the two faced off the next season.
Clearly, there are things that he remains known for beyond his performance on the field.
The reserved Mesa has remained quiet with the media since his retirement, making his gradual exit from the league seem insignificant.
Unfortunately for him, his career falls into obscurity because of this.