And yes, in that one season, Davis was objectively awful as the Twins’ closer. Given a chance to help a young Twins team steal a bad division, Davis instead had an amazing 14 blown saves (to go with 29 he converted). So many of them were in spectacular, mind-blowing, body-numbing fashion that you might think he was the worst closer in the history of the world.
But he wasn’t — at least if we go by body of work. In his four seasons as the Twins’ primary closer from 1982-1985, Davis actually had three decent years. He converted 77 of 88 save opportunities in 1982, 1983 and 1985 combined. For the four years, even including that awful 1984 season, he converted 80.9 percent of his saves.
I’m not here to say that’s good. But bear with me.
Davis, not the primary closer in 1986, was so terrible that season that he didn’t survive the full year in Minnesota. By August, he was with the Cubs. Two years later, he was out of baseball.
The Twins in 1987 acquired veteran Jeff Reardon to be their closer. The best thing about Reardon, other than the fact that he was a “proven closer,” was that he was not Ron Davis.
He had never blown a single save for the Twins when he arrived in 1987. And in his first season here, of course, the Twins went on to win the World Series. Reardon was on the mound when the Twins recorded the final out in Game 7, earning the save. Everyone here remembers him as a hero and a great closer.
But: In Reardon’s three seasons with the Twins, he actually converted a lower percentage of saves than Davis did in those four years ol’ Ron was the closer.
Reardon blew 10 saves in 1987, eight more in 1988 and 11 in 1989. For the three years, he converted 78.2 percent of his regular-season save chances. He blew two more save opportunities in the 1987 ALCS (one in a game the Twins still won).
We remember, though, what we want to remember. The narrative our mind constructs is a powerful thing. Some might say it’s the only thing.
That leads me, briefly, to Blair Walsh.
Walsh has made 84.2 percent of his career regular-season field goals for the Vikings.
Kai Forbath, the man who is replacing Walsh as the Vikings kicker in the middle of this season, has made 84.1 percent of his career field goals.
What Forbath has never done is miss a field goal in a Vikings uniform — which means he definitely has never missed a chip shot in the freezing cold that would have won a playoff game for the purple.
Like Ron Davis before him, Blair Walsh could never be forgiven and his deficiencies abetted his downfall.
Like Jeff Reardon before him, Kai Forbath might not perform any better than the man he replaced. But if he performs well at the right times we will remember it much differently.