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MCLAUGHLIN: Izzy’s Winding Path To 300

Dan McLaughlin
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Jason Isringhausen Spring Training 2011 Photo (Getty/Elsa)

Jason Isringhausen Spring Training 2011 Photo (Getty/Elsa)

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Quietly, and without much fanfare, former Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen picked up career save number 300 last night for the New York Mets.

In a career that has been stalled at times because of injury, Isringhausen got to a personal milestone that he had always coveted.  He was never shy in assessing his chances to get to save number 300, or the fact that he wanted it desperately.  He now has as many saves as Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter.  An accomplishment that’s not too shabby for a guy that was a position player in college and a starter at the beginning of his major league career with the Mets. 

He’s come full circle in a journey that has now taken him to 300 saves.

In St. Louis, it wasn’t always easy for Izzy.  In being the closer, he was either the hero or the goat.  If he picked up the save, he was supposed to.  If he blew the game, then he was the goat and he and his family and friends heard about it.  It wasn’t easy hearing the boos from the fan base that he was once a part of.

The Brighton, Illinois native would leave St. Louis after injuries took away his mid-90’s fastball and a knee-buckling curveball.  When the Cardinals won the World Series, it was Izzy who had to watch somebody else get the final out.  By the time his career was done in St. Louis, most around baseball thought his career was done…period.  That’s what makes this story of 300 a feel good story for the guy who didn’t give up.

It was just two years ago that Isringhausen was out of baseball and his phone wasn’t ringing from teams that needed bullpen help.  He had a decision to make.  For Izzy, it was easy.  Pitch.  He still had the drive in his belly to compete and get to 300 saves even if that included minor league stints with no guarantee of a call-up.

This season he was one of the last Mets to make the team, if not the last player to make the roster.  There were no guarantees for save opportunities.  There was just the chance to compete, pitch, and be a stabilizing presence in the bullpen and the clubhouse.

That all changed once the Mets traded away K-Rod to the Brewers and ironically, it coincided when the Cardinals made their way to the Big Apple.  Isringhausen was given the chance to close.  In one game against the Cardinals, he struck out Pujols, Holliday and Berkman consecutively.  His chance to close was once again there for the taking and he’s made the most of it.

Congratulations to the newest member of the 300-save club: Jason Isringhausen.  It’s been a crazy path for Izzy to get there, but I’m sure he’d tell you it’s been the ride of a lifetime.

Dan McLaughlin, the television voice of the Cardinals, hosts “The Sports Hub” weeknights from 9p-12a on KMOX.

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