Three years ago, Rivera sang a different tune

ALDS food for thought
Tickets still available for the NLCS

In the back of my mind, something about Mariano Rivera’s recent comments about his contract bugged me, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. But this morning, it dawned on me that Rivera has changed his position a bit on the Yankees over the last few years.

Three years ago, when he negotiated his current contract extension, Mariano Rivera had nothing but praise for the Yankees. In this article in The Times from 2004, Rivera expressed his desires to remain in pinstripes. ”I don’t need to [be a free agent],” he said. ”This is where my house is. I’d have to find another house. This has been home.”

This wasn’t the first time Rivera had expressed these feelings. In 2001, he basically said the same thing, and in both 2001 and 2004, he hinted that he would probably pitch only until 2007. Well, 2007 has finally rolled around, and Rivera is feeling restless. He is, for the first time in his career, inching toward free agency, and numerous other teams could use a Mariano Rivera in their bullpen. As Buster Olney might opine, Mariano Rivera is a good fit for many, many teams.

So I wonder what’s changed in three years. It’s possible that Rivera is using his own impending free agency as leverage to help Joe Torre. Rivera could have no intention of leaving the Yankees, the organization he’s been with since 1990. Or it could be something else.

Maybe Mo is tired of the speculation surrounding his effectiveness and his elbow. Maybe he’s tired of the three-ring circus in the Bronx. Maybe he was dismayed to see his friend Bernie Williams so unceremoniously dumped last year and wants the team to recognize and honor those who have contributed for a decade or more to a great run.

Either way, something about the Yankees has affected Rivera since he last re-upped with the team. Hopefully, that something won’t be a deal-breaker this time around.

ALDS food for thought
Tickets still available for the NLCS
  • Marsha

    I think Mo’s making a power play for Joe’s job. End of story.

    And what do you mean that Bernie was unceremoniously dumped last year? It was no secret that when his contract ended he would not be re-signed. Bernie should have had the dignity to retire. Then he would have been touted at his last home game and everyone would be happy. Clearly, the Yanks were not the only team who didn’t want to sign him at the end of last season.

  • steve (different one)

    also, i thought he was going to walk away from baseball and become a priest?

  • Marsha

    Or a guitarist.

  • Ben K.

    What I meant to imply with Bernie was that Rivera could think that the Yanks unceremoniously dumped Bernie. Personally, the signs were pretty clear to me and everyone else that Bernie wasn’t coming back.

    • JP

      I would agree with that – it seemed like Rivera started taking a hard line with the Yankees beginning in spring training when the Yankees wouldn’t guarantee a spot. If I remember right they told him he could be a non-roster invitee and it seemed to set Rivera off because he started talking about walking at the end of the year if the Yankees didn’t give him his respect. It’s a tough spot for Cashman but I give him credit because he’s doing the things that make the most sense for the future of the team.

    • brxbmrs


      I think it has less to do with Torre than coming to terms with change.

      I think both Mo and Posada saw how the end could be for both of them – in decline and the Yanks needed to move on. When Mo negotiated his last deal he was still solidly in his prime – now he sees that he’s not going to play forever and doesn’t want the Yanks to do to him what they did to Bernie (Bernie wanted to hang around too long – unlike O”Neill who realized he was in decline and while he could still play, he was not what he was – just another reason to love O’Neill).

      Think also Mo is having a human moment – regretting the hometown discount he’s given the Yanks in the past. Its a shame to see him concerned with $ since he’s made 67 mil as a major leaguer. He’s now equating the $ with respect.

      Still hope he comes back – he’s still one of the (if not the) best money closer in the game – he throws alot of innings for a close as well 71+ again this year.

  • Tk_NYY

    Baseball is a business. The only deal-breaker would be another team offering more then the Yanks,

  • steve

    i can’t stand when players get all grumpy about wanting an extension …i understand why they want it, but finish your damn contract first. He’s not getting disrespected, they just wanted to see how he would finish out his current contract.

  • Relaunch

    This really is unbelievable. I find it funny how they will all be pissed and not come back if Torre is gone, but they would with open arms play for a manager in another team that they have affiliation with.

  • http://RiverAve.Blues Joseph M

    I hope this is little more than posturing, I mean he can’t be serious can he?

    Mariano been around long enough, when has Joe Torre stuck his neck out? Last spring when the Yankees would only offer Bernie a minor league contract did Torre speak out? How about when Tino’s contract was not renewed after 2001, did Torre speak out? How about the treatment his buddy Don Zimmer got from George in 2003, where was the voice of Torre? When Mel was not renewed where was Torre’s outrage. I want to make it clear I had no problem with any of the moves I just mentioned, I’m asking where was Joe. Joe’s primary concern is Joe, Mariano should worry about himself and let the Yankee management team make the Torre decision.

    I heard something ridiculous the other day on Mike and the Mad Dog, Mike suggested AROD should negotiate a 10 year contract with the Yankees at about 350 million and then agree to a hometown discount (about 25 million less) if the Yankees agree to bring back Joe! AROD is suppose to leave 25 million on the table to save Joe’s job!