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Top Stories of 2006 -- Tom Gordon: First-Half Master

Among Pat Gillick's more consequential decisions last offseason was his choice not the top the Mets' four year offer for closer Billy Wagner, letting the diminuitive, persnickety, and aging lefty fireballer depart to the Phillies' division rivals in Queens.  So when the time came to replace Wagner, who better than a not-as-diminutive, almost-as-persnickety, and even older righty?

Coming off two excellent seasons as Mariano Rivera's set-up guy in the Bronx, Tom "Flash" Gordon was eager to prove he had still had the chops to be the elite closer he was in the 1990s when he was finishing off games for the Red Sox and inspiring later-period piss-poor Stephen King novels.  Fans in Philadelphia were skeptical that Gordon could adequately replace their beloved jerk Wagner.

Gordon quietly silenced his doubters.  After giving up a run in his first appearance on April 5th, Gordon didn't allow another run for over a month, earning an All-Star berth and making everyone forget that Pat Gillick had given a 38 year old pitcher with a history of arm problems a three year friggin' contract as a means of justifying not giving a 34 year old pitcher with a history of elbow problems a four year contract.