BOSTON -- Trevor Hoffman has no connection to the Rays.
He never played for them. He pitched against them once in an 18-year major-league career.
And yet, when Trevor Hoffman showed up on a television screen in the Rays clubhouse Tuesday night, a whole bunch of Rays players stuck around to watch.
It says something about Hoffman, one of the most respected men in the game. It says something about 600 saves, the number Hoffman was chasing, and reached, in the Brewers' win over the Cardinals.
"It's an absolutely ridiculous number," Chad Qualls said. "I don't even have 600 career games. I'm just glad I got to see it."
Qualls has pitched in the big leagues for seven years, and he spent parts of the last three years as the Diamondbacks' closer. He has 448 career games, and 51 career saves -- or 8.5 percent of Hoffman's record-setting total.
The save doesn't always get a lot of respect as a stat. And it's true that lists of save leaders often aren't true indicators of who the best closers are. Mariano Rivera has led the American League in saves just three times in 14 seasons as the Yankees closer, even though he's been the top reliever in baseball maybe every single one of those years.
But 600 saves is still an incredible number -- yes, an absolutely ridiculous number. Rivera has 555, and no one else has even 500. Only three other pitchers -- Lee Smith (478), John Franco (424) and Billy Wagner (417) -- have even 400.
We've come to expect that many late-inning relievers can't be counted on from season to season, that consistency is too much to expect from almost all of them.
Even Hoffman had a season shortened by injury, and a career that has finally reached the point where he can't even be used as a regular closer anymore. But he was consistent for as long as anyone -- his first save came in 1993 and he was first used as a regular closer the next year.
Now it's nearly two decades later, and Hoffman has 600 saves.
And around baseball, a whole bunch of guys are celebrating. Even guys that Trevor Hoffman barely knows.