May
08

The Mariano Rivera Appreciation Society

By

“Good one to win.”

That’s what the e-mail from my dad said a few minutes after Mariano Rivera and the Yanks sealed the deal on their crisp two-hour thirty-three-minute victory over the Indians. Once again, the Yanks are at .500, and now they embark on a road trip to Detroit and Tampa Bay before facing a Mets team also playing below expectations.

Today’s game was a complete win. The Yanks offense powered four home runs as they scored, and Robinson Cano continues to show signs that he’s snapping out of his season-long slump. He’s three for his last six with a double and a home run. The beleaguered Jason Giambi added an upper-deck blast, his third of the season off of Paul Byrd, and Johnny Damon and Wilson Betemit added solo shots.

On the pitching front, Mike Mussina threw four strong innings before a hit batter and a few hits brought the Indians back into the game. But he emerged, at his magic 86-pitch limit, with a win to improve to 5-3 on the season. His 4.36 ERA is far beyond my expectations for him.

While Ross Ohlendorf and Joba Chamberlain combined for three scoreless innings, the game ended as it should. Mariano Rivera nailed down the save. It took him four batters this time, and he’s now given up five hits on the season.

Let’s stop, though, for a second and appreciate Mariano Rivera. The Sandman has now appeared in 13 games this season. In 14 innings, he’s given up 5 hits and no walks while striking out 12. He has saved all 9 of his save opportunities. And oh, yeah, he’s 38 years old. Right now, opponents are hitting .104 off of Rivera.

Every season as Rivera gets older, I’ve wondered if he can keep this up forever. Will this finally be the season that Rivera starts to return to Earth? While last year, he struggled early, and I thought we may finally be seeing that decline, he finished ridiculously strong in 2007 and looks better than he’s ever looked in 2008. He’s throwing his fastballs around 93-95 with perfect accuracy and immaculate mechanics.

Right now, Rivera is the Yankee I most look forward to play in a game. The Yanks have at least three sure-fire Hall of Famers on their team in Rivera, A-Rod and Derek Jeter. A-Rod can change a game with one swing; Jeter has a legitimate shot at a top five slot on the all-time hits list. But Mariano Rivera just goes out and does his job with a ruthless efficiency game in and game out.

At some point this year, Mariano Rivera may walk a batter. He may give up more than one hit every four innings, and some team may even manage to push across a run or cause him to blow a save. But who cares? He’s Mariano, and he’s just flat-out amazing.

Categories : Game Stories
  • wayne’s world

    Watching Mariano Rivera pitch has been one of the very highest points of my 50-years of watching Yankee baseball. It is in a class by itself. Nice post. Also, there’s a nice appreciation of him in today’s NY Times.

  • http://www.myspace.com/j_panama Jamal G.

    One thing about being a Panamanian baseball fan is that even though all your friends (Dominican and Puerto Rican for the most part) can name dozens of guys that are damn good to great players, when you say I have Mariano Rivera, you just quiet everyone down. Even to this day I say if the Panama team had Rivera in the inaugural World Baseball Classic, we would’ve advanced easily. I think we lost our first three games by a combined 4 runs and losses that were suffered at the back end of the game.

    ANyways, Mariano Rivera is the greatest relief pitcher in the history of baseball.

    • whozat

      “ANyways, Mariano Rivera is the greatest relief pitcher in the history of baseball.”

      No, haven’t you heard? It’s Papelbon! It’s up to him to set a new bar for money earned by closers, because he’s the greatest ever!

      At least…according to him and Peter Gammons.

      • http://www.myspace.com/j_panama Jamal G.

        I really have no respect for Peter Gammons. With the ‘Farnsworth is a Triple-A pitcher’ remarks and him literally making up the Roy Oswalt trade rumors and passing it along as if he heard it from his sources just put him at a new low. He’s just bad and embarrassing.

    • JRVJ

      Jamal,

      Didn’t you know you were Panamanian.

      Mariano would have been very good in that game against Cuba that went into extra innings….

      And Mariano will be our second HoFer, for sure.

      • http://www.myspace.com/j_panama Jamal G.

        Yeah, I was born and raised here in Brooklyn but I visited every summer up until I was 12, unfortunately haven’t been back since. Parents grew up in Rio Abajo.

        • JRVJ

          Ah, a PE (Panameño nacido en el extranjero) with River Down roots.

          It’s all good.

  • Rob

    All well said. Rivera is the one that we’ll be telling our great-grandkids about. Where the numbers of A-Rod and Jetes are self-evident, you have to do a bit more digging to understand Mo’s specialty. This season is just further cementing how great he truly is.

  • steve (different one)

    mariano is like good and stuff

    • dan

      totally

  • Lanny

    Steve Phillips say trade Rivera and Hughes for 4 relievers from the Reds.

    • http://www.myspace.com/j_panama Jamal G.

      Does he do interviews? I don’t see how any self-respecting person in baseball management can sit there and look at Steve Phillips without punching him in his face or bust out in hysterical laughter.

      • A.D.

        On MLBtraderumors.com they have a great breakdown on how much of an idiot Phillips is, who allowed that clown to get a GM job, let alone one in a major market.

  • Mike P

    No one has been so much better than his peers for such a long time since the war. Mariano Rivera is simply a baseball immortal.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    An added bonus to Mo’s incredible start: We don’t have to see the tabloids running stories asking if this is the end of Mariano Rivera.

    Not that we read the tabloids or anything :)

  • dan

    Let’s trade Rivera for Jared Burton. That would put a lid on the all-important 8th inning, allowing the Yankees to move Joba to the rotation. WS ’08 WOOOHOOOO!!!

    Thoughts?

  • mustang

    Mariano Rivera is amazing. They are so spoiled and are going to miss him so much when he is gone.

    The toast rolls on. Not a great start, but kept his team in the game and 3 more to “eek” out those 8 wins.
    Not that I’m comparing the two, but Moose is just one win short of tying Wang for team lead.
    Not bad for a long man.
    Moooose !!!!!!!!!
    LOL

  • Adrian-Retire21

    Wonder where all the people who said POsada was more important then Mariano are?

  • Lanny

    Adrian,

    Posada is a lil bit important. You see the offense lately?? Comparing the importance of two Hall of Famers is rough

    • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

      yeah, really. do you like watching molina and moeller flail away?

      (not that posada is more valuable, just sayin…)

  • Rich

    “Right now, Rivera is the Yankee I most look forward to play in a game.”

    Well yeah, it almost always means a win. :)

    btw, Mo was none too pleased with Abreu’s wall shyness.

  • RIYank

    Also, his ERA+ is … infinity.
    That seems about right.