Over the course of almost 16 seasons since the team’s April, 1998 inaugural game, the all-time leading closer is Jose “Papa Grande” Valverde. While with the D-Backs, he had a grand total of 98 saves. On the all-time Diamondback career save list, Valverde is followed by J.J. Putz (83 saves), Matt Mantei (74 saves), Byung-Hyun Kim (70 saves) and Chad Qualls (45 saves). For comparison purposes only, consider the fact that over this same time period from April, 1998 through August 20, 2013, Mariano Rivera has accumulated 596 of his career 644 career saves for the Yankees. Even though Rivera is the greatest closer of all time, it is noteworthy that he has amassed six times more saves than the all-time career leader for the D-Backs.
While the D-Backs have given us much to cheer about over the years, the closer position has been a perpetual opening for anyone who can get three outs consistently without surrendering the lead. There have been moments where we thought we had “the guy” only then to be destined for a long period of holding our collective breath during the ninth inning of a close game. It is true that the D-Backs have won more than their share of one run ballgames but many of them have been the result of a blown save followed by some hitting heroics in the bottom of the inning.
Among the tried and failed experiments at closer was Chad Qualls. While a D-Back, he compiled an unremarkable record of 7 wins against 14 losses and an ERA of 4.34, to go with his 45 saves (average of 15 per season while in Arizona). The D-Backs actually traded away Jose Valverde to secure the closer services of Qualls from Houston. If that move and the closer history itself wasn’t so frustrating, it would have been laughable. Well, there are two post-Diamondback incidents involving Qualls that allow the D-Back faithful the last laugh.
The first incident occurred on June 9, 2012. Qualls was called upon by the Phillies to pitch in the 9th inning of a 4-4 tie against Baltimore. He made a pick-off attempt to first and then literally fell off the mound. The second incident was from July 29th of this season. In the top of the eighth inning in Miami, Qualls was brought in to face the Mets in a 2-2 tie. Qualls got a strike out to end the inning. Then, in his best imitation of Tiger or MJ, Qualls attempted a roundhouse fist pump as he headed for the dugout. He lost his balance and fell to the ground. He wound up doing forward roll and jumped back to his feet. After trying to compose himself in the dugout and out of frustration or embarrassment, he tossed a Gatorade cup in the air only to hit himself in the face.
So, if you want a quick (and perhaps cheap) laugh following the three seasons of tears that Qualls created while with the D-Backs, head over to You Tube. The June, 2012 incident is found under “Chad Qualls fails.” The July, 2013 incident is found under “Chad Qualls celebrates inning-ending K, trips over own feet.”
Chad, you flopped while here. It is nice to see that some things have not changed.