This post by Dan at Get Up, Baby got me thinking about my personal history with the Cardinals a bit. I, too, remember personally groaning every single time that Dave Veres took the mound. I vividly remember this stupid ad that KPLR-11 ran, where Tony goes to the bullpen phone, but the call ends up going to this "average" viewer, who Tony then asks "Who do you think I should put in?" The guy enthusiastically says "Bring in VERES!!!" I remember screaming "NOOOOOOO!!" Every single time that this guy made his recommendation. This caused great stress to anyone watching the game with me, as KPLR ran this ad at least 10 times per inning.
In retrospect, I was a little too hasty in condemning the ol' DV. He posted ERA+'s of 162, 117, and 112 with the Cardinals. The guy is never going to be included on any All-Cardinal teams, but he really didn't do anything that horrible. Like Dan, my opinion of the guy has tempered significantly. I also realize that my relationship with Veres in the late nineties had more to do with my relationship with Crazy Tony and his bullpen usage than it did with anyone in that bullpen (except for Ricky Bottallico. That dude gets no reprieve from me). I had similar feelings about Mike Timlin, who a rational analysis also shows to be a good reliever during and since his Cardinal stint.
Every Cardinals fan seemed to have some story about a certain reliever that they seemed to think that Tony overused, or that was just a disaster. Perhaps it was Ray King or Luther Hackman, or (one person argued to me) Steve Kline. For a long time, I thought that it was a pecularity of Carinals nation, and its love-hate relationship with its current manager. But then, I watched a 18 inning Sox-on-Sox game with a bunch of Boston fans last year. And by the time we got to extra innings, uniformly, and with great dread, everyone there anticipated the introduction of Rudy Seanez into the game, certain that he would blow it. It turns out that Francona went far longer without introducing Seanez, and that, when introduced, he did, in fact give up the difference-making runs and take the loss; but the thing is, it made me realize that other teams seem to have these whipping boy relievers that the fans just seem to hate. It makes sense: it gives you a way to vent at the team, while not really venting at the teams' core players. If a middle reliever is a goat, you can just root against the use of that middle reliever. Really, that Sox game came down to Manny and Ortiz being very strongly contained in extras, not getting any hits beyond perhaps an odd single--but, it makes a lot more sense to direct your rage at an obnoxious reliever that loses the game, especially since a Sox fan is going to have to be loudly cheering for Manny and Ortiz in the near future.
Anyway, I've told you one of my "obnoxious reliever" stories. What is yours?