Being a relief pitcher is not just a high pressure occupation, it pits an individual with rigorous emotional challenges, and often results in the subjecting of the individual to long-term psychological trauma. When your team has earned a victory for 8 innings of a baseball game and they put the ball in your hand, making a mistake means making losers out of your teammates, and turning over a seemingly won game. Not everyone can withstand the trauma of his own high-profile failure; as such, the repercussions of the trauma of losing are often inconcealable, and easily traced.
Mitch Williams gave up a World Series-losing homerun to Joe Carter in 1993, and his era exploded from 3.34 to 7.65 the next season. Mark Wohlers has had trouble throwing strikes ever since yielding a game-blowing longball (Jim Leyritz) in the 1996 World Series. Donnie Moore, one strike away from an Angels pennant in 1986, served up a Dave Henderson homer to blow the lead, and, ultimately, the series; he would talk about this single, tragic, defining moment of his career frequently over the course of the next two years, until one day he shot his wife 3 times in front of their children, put a pistol in his mouth, and fired upon the physical memory.
In the months preceding his suicide, Moore claimed to have "become another Ralph Branca, doomed to be remembered for just one pitch and one failure." It was Branca who served up perhaps the most celebrated, dramatic homerun of all time, the shot heard round the world, to Bobby Thompson in 1951.
Moore's friends remember him as "haunted" by the homerun. Before the '86 season, Moore had signed a lucrative $3 million deal, and he appeared to be the Angels' brightest young star; but after the homerun he seemed to have nothing left in his arm, and was roundly booed by fans, who still bore a grudge, and who ridiculed him for the poor performance that led to his easy characterization as the stereotype of the overpaid, under-performing athlete, whose effort declines once he has achieved a long-term deal.
Moore saved 89 games in a career that spanned parts of 13 seasons, posting a lifetime 3.67 era.