DETROIT — Dennis Eckersley has a plaque in the Hall of Fame, MVP and Cy Young awards, a World Series ring, a high-profile analyst's job with TBS and some of the best hair in baseball.
But with his seemingly untouchable reliever record 0.61 ERA in peril as the season wound down, he found himself pulling for Rays closer Fernando Rodney to break the 22-year-old mark — which Rodney did, finishing at 0.60.
"I was happy for him," Eckersley said before ALCS Game 3 Tuesday. "It goes to show how tough it is. And no one would have gave a (darn) until that happened, then people say, he did that once. So at least I got some attention for something that happened so long ago. I don't think anyone even knew. So he should be proud of it."
In his 1990 season, Eckersley allowed five earned runs in 731/3 over 63 games and converted 48 saves in 50 chances; Rodney allowed five in 742/3 over 76 games and converted 48 saves in 50 chances.
"That is a great year," Eckersley said. "What it is is being good and a little lucky, which you have to be. And that makes for magic."
Which season was more impressive? Given that Eckersley did so in Oakland for a team that won 103 games and coasted to the AL West title while Rodney pitched for a Rays team that battled until the final week for a wild-card spot and ended up with 90 wins, Eckersley said Rodney's was:
"Pitching in that ballpark for that club, they needed him so bad, I think there was more pressure on him, absolutely."