The news came down on Saturday and it wasn't good: An MRI of Brian Wilson's right elbow had revealed structural damage, putting the pitcher's season in jeopardy.
The San Francisco Giants closer will receive one or two more opinions, but if they direct him toward his second Tommy John surgery — he had one while playing in college for LSU — it won't be surprising. Wilson has often said he'll throw as hard as he can until his arm falls off and, well, it looks like that time has finally come.
It's a huge loss for the Giants, of course. ESPN's Steve Berthiaume points out that Wilson has recorded 164 saves since becoming the team's full-time closer in 2008, two more than Mariano Rivera. He was one of the leaders of the 2010 World Series title team, an intense presence who'd appear in the ninth inning to save a MLB-leading 48 games that season. Wilson used the success in the October spotlight to become one of baseball's most recognizable faces (underneath that trademark beard, of course). His antics provided great fodder for Big League Stew on one more than one occasion, whether it was bringing the ESPYs to a halt, angering opponents with his Taco Bell commercials or battering innocent water coolers.
(A few more favorites while we're at it: Wilson dressing like a sea captain, airing out new catchphrases, honoring his late father with a record-breaking Air Force donation, raging with YouTube star Keenan Cahill and drawing complaints about his distracting orange shoes.)
The flow of fun comes to an end, though, if these worst fears are confirmed. So, too, does San Francisco's run of boasting a questions-free bullpen. Wilson is only 30 and still has plenty of time to come back, but the history of pitchers coming back from a second Tommy John surgery is less than encouraging. I know some people didn't enjoy watching Brian Wilson on and off the field as much of some of us did, but it's still sad to see an entertaining period in baseball come off its tracks.