None of us realized it at the time, but those two words flashing brightly on the large LED screen towering over the seats in the Right Field Pavilion at Dodger Stadium each time Eric Gagne ran onto the field were an omen of bad things to come.

Anyone claiming to be a Dodger fan remembers those two fateful words: “Game Over!” Those two little words were once a source for buzz-filled excitement. Now the phrased moniker is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On April 19, Gagne reportedly threw in the towel on a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde career. Although, for all intents and purposes, Gagne was basically “retired” from baseball the day the infamous Mitchell Report listed his name as one of those MLBers guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

Gagne has since struggled to find his game after the Mitchell Report was released in December 2007. Since then he has spent portions of seasons playing for Boston, Milwaukee and Texas as well as professional baseball in Quebec before making one last-ditch effort to return to Major League Baseball when he was invited to spring training with, of all teams, the Dodgers. When the Dodgers’ coaching staff elected not to bring Gagne onto the opening day roster, well, let us just say the proverbial nail hammered the pitcher’s coffin door shut.

Just like that, the phrase “Game Over!” – once a statement of certain Dodger victory – has become synonymous with personal failure and shortcomings. Any baseball nut can reiterate the insane statistics that defined Gagne’s roller coaster career – the closer saved 84 games over a three-year stretch, including all 55 save chances in his 2003 Cy Young-winning campaign. That performance translated into a $5 million arbitration deal in 2004 and a two-year, $19 million accord signed the following season.

However, the writing on the wall was clearly becoming evident that it was Gagne’s career that was “Game Over!” Overall, Gagne finished with a 33-26 record, a 3.47 ERA and 187 saves in 10 major league seasons. But, after his “magical” run as dominant closer came to an end in 2004, Gagne was never able to relive his short-lived glory. After signing the two-year, $19 million deal in 2005, Gagne appeared in only 16 games during the length of his contract with the Dodgers, saving eight games and posting a 1-0 record in that stretch.

In 2007 – coincidentally the last season he would play before Sen. George Mitchell’s report was released – Gagne finally parted ways with the Dodgers and landed stints with the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox. Playing a combined 54 games for both teams that year, Gagne was 4-2 and converted 16 of 20 saves.

The following season, the numbers were even more troubling. In 50 appearances with the Milwaukee Brewers, Gagne blew seven of 17 save opportunities – a horrendous statistic for any closer in the major leagues. Coincidentally, the horrid numbers were posted just months after the Mitchell Report was released.

Once released by the Brewers, Gagne was effectively placed in exile. The combination of his name morbidly being listed in the Mitchell Report and his pathetic in-game performances – such as 11 blown saves in 37 opportunities over his two seasons after only having just six in his entire career as a Dodger – was a recipe for his career quickly being defined by the “Game Over!” that once made his days as a professional baseballer so memorable.

Spending his time in exile with the Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League, Gagne had hoped for one last push into reclaiming his glory days when he signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers in February. However, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times during Dodgers spring training in Arizona, Gagne admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs, and his career was all but over when the Mitchell Report was released in 2007.

A few weeks later, after making a few shaky Cactus League appearances, Gagne humbly requested the team to release him. He knew it was “Game Over!”

May his story of skyrocketed success and equally gargantuan fall be a moral story to all future athletes of all that can go wrong in a quest to bend the rules in the name of trying to become the best.