‘One pitch’ lands Mo on the cover of SI



As part of a Tom Verducci package on Mariano Rivera and his Cutter of Doom, Number 42 finds himself atop Sports Illustrated this week. Here’s what the press release from the sports weekly had to say:

This week’s October 5, 2009, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday, features Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera with the billing One Man, One Pitch: The One and Only Mariano Rivera. As the gates swing open upon another MLB postseason, baseball will once again attempt to divine one of the game’s great mysteries: how a man, closing fast on 40 and armed with but a single pitch, continues to dominate in the clutch like no other player, 13 years and counting.

SI senior baseball writer Tom Verducci reveals that Rivera’s cutter—the defining pitch of his generation—was the result of a happy accident: “God touched Mariano Rivera one June afternoon in 1997, and Rivera shrugged. Just three months into his new role as the closer for a budding Yankees dynasty, Rivera was suddenly unable to throw his signature four-seam fastball straight, not even during his daily toss with pitcher Ramiro Mendoza. Every catch a struggle, Mendoza told Rivera to knock it off, to quit making the ball dip and dart. Rivera assured his friend that he wasn’t doing it intentionally. He was gripping the ball the same way he always had, releasing it the same way he always had. The wicked movement just … happened…. Rivera didn’t have an explanation, and though he says he ‘didn’t have any idea where the ball was going,’ his results did not suffer. He got the save in that game, then in the next three. Still, for a month, he worked with [bullpen catcher Mike] Borzello and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre to eliminate the cutting action. ‘We were trying to make the pitch stay straighter, [as it had] in ’95 and ’96,’ Rivera says, referring to his first two seasons in the big leagues, ‘but it didn’t work. Then I said, ‘I’m tired of working at this. Let’s let it happen.’ And since that day we didn’t try to straighten it out anymore.’ He smiles. ‘And the rest is history.’ ”

Rivera has become the best closer with the demeanor of a benevolent king; baseball royalty without the arrogance. As a result, he has engendered as much respect from opponents as he has from teammates. Says David Ortiz of the rival Red Sox: “I have respect for Mariano like I have for my father. Why? He’s just different. If you talk to him at an All-Star Game, it’s like talking to somebody who just got called up. To him, everybody else is good. I don’t get it. To him everybody else is the best. It’s unbelievable. And he is the greatest. You know what? Sometimes in those times when he struggles, like when I watch him on TV, I feel bad for him. I seriously do. Good people, you want to do well.”

Those are some might big words of praise from David Ortiz.

Categories : Pitching


  1. Dela G says:

    he will buck the cover jinx

    mark my words

    CC was on the cover this year in april or so, and how did that turn out for CC?

  2. Mike Pop says:

    Yeah, Mo is unbelievably humble.

    Like in that interview – K-Rod, Papelbon, Hoffman, Soria, they are all better than me he said.


  3. I heart Mo says:

    Funny how pappi is kissing ass here

  4. JasonR says:

    Most times on the Sports Illustrated Cover: Michael Jordan (56), Muhammad Ali (38), Tiger Woods (30).

    The Jinx doesn’t affect gods. And Mo is one of them.

  5. Drew says:

    I’m surprised Mo even allowed them to use him as the cover. I’d think he has a say.

    Either way, he’s got the best pitch in the game. Thank Mo he’s a Yankee.

  6. OmgZombies says:

    Thats the first non-porn magazine I will be buying in years. Great shot.

  7. “God touched Mariano Rivera one June afternoon in 1997, and Rivera shrugged.

    That reminds me of a Rickey Henderson story…

  8. Bob B says:

    I usually just read this blog because it’s easily the best Yankee content on the net, but I wanted to jump in and share my admiration and respect for Mo. He’s been one of the most dominant baseball players ever and at least imho, he ranks up with the upper echelon of baseball royalty like Ruth, Gehrig, Musial, Williams, Cobb, Young, Aaron, Robinson, Hornsby, etc. He’s flat out awesome and I’m thankful he’s a Yankee!

    • The heir to mo says:

      Which leads into the famous question….
      Who will be the heir to MO?
      Is it
      A) Phil Hughes
      B) Joba Chamberlain
      C) a free agent
      D) somebody from within the organization(Mellancen..etc…)

      • JasonR says:

        Some guy we probably haven’t even heard of yet. Who’s to say Mo can’t be the closer for another 3-4 years?

        • pete says:

          seriously. even if his performance dips, if there’s no viable replacement yet, i don’t see any reason not to keep him unless he doesn’t want to play, a la mussina. But we’d be fine w/ rivera being a 3.00 era guy. remember ’07? it really won’t make a huge difference if our starters and lineup are good. That’s why i get really annoyed when people call him the most valuable player the last bunch of years or w/e. I’ll agree that he’s been the best, most dominant, and most consistent at his job, and i’ll agree that he’s a surefire, first ballot HOFer, but he’s a closer. His net effect on a season is like what maybe 2ish wins?

          • Slugger27 says:

            im a sabermetric supporter (offensively anyway, i largely ignore defensive metric stats) but when it comes to judging mo i think sabermetric stats undervalue him

            regardless of the endless math u can do to try and put a win value on him, i think the yanks would be more than 2 wins worse without him

            hes a HUGE piece of the team, and if we didnt have him this year i wouldnt be shocked if we were at 94-95 wins right now and in a dogfight for the division

            • pete says:

              i dunno. I’m not trying to undermine Mariano at all – I think he is as good as anybody at his craft. He executes his pitches as well and as consistently as anybody I’ve watched pitch, except maybe Moose, it’s just that I don’t think a reliever who isn’t even available until 2 outs in the 8th inning, can do all that much for his team. I think it’s hard to distinguish his somewhat pedestrian actual value from his way-off-the-charts awesomeness-at-what-he-does value.
              Of course this is ignoring the very plausible effect he could have on the other pitchers on the team – I forget which interview it was but I remember him saying that he doesn’t actually throw just one pitch – a cutter on the hands is different from one diving down and in which is different from one that jumps in the back door, and I think he’s preached this to other members of the bullpen, because it really looks like, especially from hughes, something like fastball on the lower outside corner is part of their repertoire, rather than fastball being part, and corner being a place to try to throw it. If that makes any sense

        • Slugger27 says:

          this is a good point… i think he has more than just 2010 in him

          if he wants to stay, that is

    • He’s been one of the most dominant baseball players ever and at least imho, he ranks up with the upper echelon of baseball royalty like Ruth, Gehrig, Musial, Williams, Cobb, Young, Aaron, Robinson, Hornsby, etc.


      (He’s at the very, very bottom of that echelon, but yes. Agreed.)

  9. I want that cover blown up as a poster to hang on my door.

  10. Can’t wait to grab this issue…

    The thing about Mo, what makes him so great is that he’s not just a great baseball talent. He’s the same guy you’d want coaching or teaching your kids…

    When you teach humility is a virtue, you point to a poster of Mo.

  11. pat says:

    Hey Ben in all your subway wisdom do you have any idea what they do with all the old advertisements they take down? Are they destroyed? Archived? Auctioned off? This SI cover reminds me of a series of Nike ads I saw in the underground right before the season started. They were huge photos of Mo,Jeter, Arod and the Old Stadium there must have been 20 or 30 of them because they lined the corridor between Times Square and Port Authority. I forgot about them until now, they were awesome.

  12. vin says:

    How is Mo not on the cover of every issue of every sports magazine? The guy is a modern marvel. I’m so glad he’s on our side.

    LOL at Mel trying to straighten out his fastball. What amazes me most about his cutter, is his ability to locate it. The movement is nice, but a lot of guys have great movement. The velocity used to be impressive, but plenty of guys throw harder. His ability to consistently pitch to the black, inside and out, up and down is remarkable.

    • Slugger27 says:

      mosanna in the highest!!


    • Opus says:

      LOL at Mel trying to straighten out his fastball.

      What would you expect from the guy that told Dwight Gooden in 1985 that he needed to throw his fastball less?

      • Accent Shallow says:

        When his bender is nicknamed “Lord Charles” because “Uncle Charlie” isn’t good enough, well . . .

        (Mostly agreed on the larger point. I’m not sure the Mets did Doc any favors, although the coke didn’t exactly help)

  13. JSquared says:

    I’m Happy for Mo.

  14. Ivan says:

    I can honestley say I am quite lucky to witness Mo. He’s too good to be true and you know what, he is that true.

    You thin Michael Jordan would ever say “hey I think Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson and Bird and Kobe and LeBron were all better players than me”

    Mo is just unbelievable.

  15. Accent Shallow says:

    It’s been a privilege to witness the career of the greatest reliever of the modern era.

    I plan on visiting Cooperstown for his induction ceremony, but I don’t plan on that being anytime soon, so here’s hoping he can keep it up for a few more years.

    • MikeD says:

      As I said when Mo signed his new three-year contract and many in the media thought the Yankees would be sorry because of Rivera’s age, I believed they were going to face the same situation again. How many more years to sign him once the three-year contract is up. This ride will come to an end, but I don’t expect his performance to “drop off a cliff” next year, which means another contract is coming if Mo wants it.

  16. Rey22 says:

    Can you guys imagine Mo dominating on the Red Sox for these past 13 years? The thought makes my eyes water.

  17. MikeD says:

    What’s disturbing is he doesn’t know why his pitches “cut.” It just happened. And he spent days trying to eliminate it before just accepting it. So if it just started cutting, what happens if he just stops???????!!

    • Tom Swift says:

      That would mean God wants him to retire. Then Mo heads off into the sunset and eventually to Cooperstown and we all can tell our grandchildren that we saw the greatest reliever of all time ply his craft.

  18. Kiersten says:

    Is it okay if that made me tear up a little bit?

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.