Pettitte, Rivera, Jeter and Posada all walk into a bar…

The marginalization of David Robertson
Yankees sign righthander Erik Olivo
The Core Four pose for the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. Click to enlarge.

We hear a lot about the Yanks’ Core Four these days. Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and, of course, Derek Jeter make up the Yanks’ elder statesmen. They’re widely respected by opponents, have played together at the Big League level since 1995 and each own five New York Yankees World Series rings. In this day and age of free agency and player movement, that three of them have played together for so long with only Pettitte’s brief, three-year departure from 2004-2007 to mar the foursome is a testament to their baseball longevity.

As these four Yankees bask in the glow of their fifth championship, Tom Verducci from Sports Illustrated brought them together for an intimate lunch and a resulting magazine cover. The interview covers a wide range of topics from their experiences in the minors to their family plans, and I wanted to highlight some of it.

SI: I want to go back to 1992, when Andy was throwing to Jorge, a converted second baseman, in Class A in Greensboro, N.C. Posada: Go back to 1991. I was catching a bullpen from him [at short-season Class A] Oneonta, and he’s throwing me knuckle- balls. The ball hit me right in the knee. I said, “No more knuckleballs.”
Pettitte: I had a knuckleball when I signed.
Jeter: Yeah, you’re still throwing knuckleballs.
Pettitte: I’d get two strikes on somebody and throw it as hard as I could. Struck everybody out. And then they told me after the first year, “You’ve got to can it.” They said, “After you’ve pitched for 10 years in the big leagues, if you want to break it back out, you can.”
SI: So now you can throw it again.
Pettitte: It’s no good now. I lost it.
SI: How about when Jeter showed up in Greensboro? He joined you guys on August 20, 1992.
Posada: [Laughs.] Good-looking fellow.
Rivera: Where was I?
SI: Fort Lauderdale, High A.
Posada: You were older. Let’s make sure everybody knows that. He’s the oldest.
Rivera: I saw Jeet….Oh, my God. I was with my cousin [former major league outfielder Ruben Rivera] in Tampa. We were playing, if I’m not mistaken, the Cardinals in St. Pete. I looked at Jeet [who was in the Gulf Coast League before Greensboro]. . . . I was skinny.” This boy was dying. I was like, Who is that?
Posada: He comes in the clubhouse, and he’s got high tops, with an ankle brace. And remember that Louisville Slugger bag that you stick your bats in? He had that. I was like, Wow, this is our first-rounder?
Rivera: And throwing the ball away. . . . But I saw the hitting. He hit the ball hard, and far. I said, “Wow.” …
SI: Mariano, I remember you once said you cried a lot in the minor leagues, right?
Rivera: Not that I cried a lot. I did cry, like two, three times. That was my second year, in Greensboro, 1991. Because I couldn’t communicate. But imagine, I came from Panama. My first year, in Tampa, most of the people I played with spoke Spanish. So I was fine. My second year I went to Greensboro. And no Spanish at all. It was hard. I think that was one of the toughest times that I had.

Later on, the four talk about their family lives:

SI: How long are you going to do this? I’m assuming you guys all are in the same boat as far as that goes. Does anybody plan out, “I want to play X number of years?”
Rivera: I don’t think so. I mean, how many times have I retired?
Jeter: He retires every other year.
Rivera: Every contract I think, Well, this is it for me. Jeter: [Points at Pettitte.] Him, too. “This is my last year. One more year.”
Pettitte: What are you talking about? I was [retired]. I was.
Rivera: I was retired every year after my contract was up. [But] I’m still going.
SI: This game keeps pulling you back.
Rivera: I love this game. This is what I know how to do. For me, it’s kind of hard to just leave and be competitive. I’m competitive.
Jeter: It’s tough to leave when you’re having fun…

Rivera: I think it’s easier for [Jeter] because he doesn’t have a family. He can do this until…he’ll be 40 and have no kids still. But to me, and I can talk about Andy and also Sado, you miss your kids. You miss your family. This year it has hit me hard, especially in spring training. My kids were in New York. I was in Tampa. And I was missing them a lot. So that line, where’s your family and where’s your game . . . how do you draw that line? How long are you going to do this? How long are they going to support you? And then flying, and those things that petrify you. I’m petrified by flights. I suffer on those flights.

Verducci’s story highlights how these four players make up a unique core of athletes. For many of us who came of age when Jeter, Rivera, Pettite and Posada arrived in New York, they are the Yankees, and I wonder when we’ll see it again. Rivera isn’t sure it will happen soon. “The beauty about this group of guys is it’s family,” he said. “As a family we all pull for one another. It’s beautiful. I don’t think you will have this, or see this, again, in any other sport. Period.”

The interview isn’t yet available online, but a different part of the discussion is. The four talk about changes to the game since they started player, and that too is illuminating. Players get bigger; the strike zone changes; their teammates retire, get traded or let go. Still, there they are, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, Yankees through and through.

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The marginalization of David Robertson
Yankees sign righthander Erik Olivo
  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime (Optimovelist Primus)

    God is afraid of flying?

  • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

    I still am dumbfounded by the fact that Mariano Rivera (49.9) has accumulated more rWAR in his career than Andy Pettitte (47.1). On average, Pettitte pitches 135 more innings per season than Rivera, and the former has amassed fewer than 175 innings in a lone season just twice (2002 and 2004) in his career. It really is amazing.

    • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama

      this. I mean, RPs just aren’t as valuable as average SPs. And Pettitte’s been a very solidly above average pitcher for most of his career.

      That Mariano guy, he is good.

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime (Optimovelist Primus)

      That’s kind of crazy.

    • AndrewYF

      What is rWAR?

      Can’t be right. Relievers are never more valuable than starters, especially above-average ones like Andy. Ever.

      • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama

        I’m guessing it stands for Rally WAR, used for this:
        http://www.baseballprojection.com/war/top500p.htm
        Mo is #76 all time, Pettitte’s #85.

        Also, is this post sarcasm?

        • AndrewYF

          …yes.

          How is rWAR calculated? I know the WAR for pitchers most people quote is from Fangraphs, and that uses FIP, which some on here have used to show that Rivera was less valuable than Aaron Harang in 2009 (thus proving that even the best relief pitchers are less valuable than mediocre #3 starters) – a point which is, to put it bluntly, retarded.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    I kind of hate stories like this. It just reminds me that they will all be gone from the field soon. Why can’t we all stay young forever?

  • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama

    That cover picture… I have so many feelings about it.

    • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Like jealousy?

      • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama

        that’s certainly one of ‘em

  • http://www.soxandpinstripes.net JGS

    I want Andy to throw knuckleballs again

    • Templeton “Brendog” Peck

      yes. so bad. i want there to be more knuckleballers. I miss charlie hough and tom candiotti et al. i made myself a knuckleballer in road to the show. needed to be done

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      Me too.

      A lefty knuckleballer? Awesomeness.

    • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama

      This would be pretty awesome. As Steve said, a lefty knuckleballer? Have there ever really been any of those through history? I tried Googling and it doesn’t seem like there have been too many of those.

      Also:
      I want Andy to throw knuckleballs again
      /bexarama’d

      • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

        I want Andy to throw knuckleballs again

        /bexarama’d

        Of course you do. All women want Andys.

        We’re irresistable!

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          Downright lovable, even.

          /Snagglepuss’d

          • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

            Exit, stage left, even.

            • Tom Swift

              Don’t take it too hard. My guess is that Bex is too young for you.

              • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                Why? I’m not that much older than Pettitte.

                Anyway, it’s moot, as my girlfriend would kill me.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

          KEEP FIRING, ANDYS!!!

          /DarkHelmet’d

          • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

            :-)

          • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

            How many Andy’s do we have on this ship?

            • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama

              I think it’s just Andy in NYC and Andy in Sunny Florida, no? There are a couple of other Andrews around IIRC?

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

                Those two, plus there’s an Andrew and a Drew, and several other posters named Andy/Andrew/Drew who don’t use their names in their screenames.

                Like a good 15-20% of the RAB commenters are named either Andrew or Steven (or some permutation of the above).

                • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

                  I remember when I first started posting, I was just Steve. Then I saw 73 other commenters named Steve, so I had to add the H.

                • AndrewYF

                  ANDREWS UNITE!

                  We should have a separate off-topic post only for us Andrews.

                  • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                    Well, we could…but then the never-entirely-gone jealousy of the non-Andrews would rear it ugly head, and we’d be chased off RAB. Not worth it.

                    We’ll just have to go on being quietly superior, a fact known only among us, never to be spoken of among outsiders…

                    Uh oh.

              • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                Bex-

                I believe Steve was referencing the same scene in Space Balls that TSJC quoted.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

                  Don’t worry, we’ll all meet up again in Spaceballs 2: The Search For More Money.

                  • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                    I think you meant “The Search for more World Series rings”, no?

                • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama

                  oh. Heh, whoops. I’ve only seen that movie once.

  • Rose

    Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada are the first trio in the history of sports to have played 16 seasons straight with one another. That’s not even counting Pettitte (who unwillingly left and then returned after a brief stint in Houston).

    Pretty impressive.

    • Templeton “Brendog” Peck

      unwillingly left? i’m pretty sure that is not true and that he went home to houston to be near his family…

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

        Yeah, we offered him a contract; 3 years, 39M. He picked a smaller one (3yr/36M) from Drayton McLane. There was nothing “unwilling” about his departure at all.

    • Ted Nelson

      I don’t remember it being unwilling… As I remember it he spurned the Yankees. He was coming off a 21 win season and only 31 years old. The Yankees offered $3 million more than Houston:
      http://www.cbc.ca/sports/story.....31211.html

      The Yankees traded Weaver for Brown after Pettitte signed, in what the above article calls “their back-up plan.”

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

        The Yankees traded Weaver for Brown after Pettitte signed, in what the above article calls “their back-up plan.”

        Shit, even J-Lo had a better back up plan, and her movie sucked.

        http://www.instantrimshot.com

        (No? Anyone? Oh well.)

    • Andy

      I’m assuming you mean just US sports? There’s a trio of footballers (soccer) who have been together for as long.

  • Cecala

    That picture, very hmm whats the best politically correct word…?

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Awesome?

    • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama
      • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

        Ewww.

        • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

          (that link you posted)

      • Spaceman.Spiff

        Good ole bitchtits.

  • Rose

    Rivera: Not that I cried a lot. I did cry, like two, three times. That was my second year, in Greensboro, 1991. Because I couldn’t communicate. But imagine, I came from Panama. My first year, in Tampa, most of the people I played with spoke Spanish. So I was fine. My second year I went to Greensboro. And no Spanish at all. It was hard. I think that was one of the toughest times that I had.

    I can only imagine having to deal with that. I mean getting paid and playing a game you love has to help…but being anywhere alone without anybody who understands you has got to be tough…

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      I didn’t excerpt the whole thing, but Posada and Jeter talk about crying at different times too. It sounds a bit overwhelming to go from being the top of the class to just some kid at Single A, and it sounds even harder, as it was for Posada, when English isn’t a language you know or speak too well or at all.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

        And his wife didn’t even have those glorious, perfect jubblies to come home to yet. (I’d imagine. I don’t know when she had her surgery, but I’d surmise it wasn’t until he was an established big leaguer.)

  • Andy Summers

    Here comes the SI Curse. Why couldn’t the put an already shittily performing player on the cover like Javy and see if the curse works the other way?

    • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama

      Haha I thought that but Mo broke it last year in the playoffs. Also, Jeter, Mo, and Tino were on the cover early in 1998 and I think those guys had pretty good years ;P

    • CountryClub

      CC was on the cover last yr. That worked out fine.

    • Rose

      A tad outdated…but still…

      http://sportsillustrated.cnn.c.....jinx/main/ (SAFE)

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft
        • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

          Fun Fact™:

          There is a mostly obsolete meaning of “prove”, which is equivalent to “test”.
          It is this meaning of “prove” that is intended in the saying “The exception proves the rule”.

          Therefore, the actual meaning of the phrase is “The exception tests the rule.”

          Think about it; exceptions actually tend to disprove a rule, not the other way around.

          Right?

          • Tom Swift

            Hey, you know that, too! I agree completely with your analysis.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

            Therefore, the actual meaning of the phrase is “The exception tests the rule.”

            And the test comes back negative, thus proving the rule.

            Think about it; exceptions actually tend to disprove a rule, not the other way around.

            Meh, not exactly.

            • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

              And the test comes back negative, thus proving the rule.

              Not sure where you’re going with this. I wasn’t stating the Fun Fact™ with intent to disagree with your post; I was just stating a Fun Fact™.

              ——————————

              …exceptions…tend to disprove a rule…
              Meh, not exactly.

              Here I must do myself the honor of disagreeing with your statement. If there is an exception to a rule, then it is less a “rule” , and more a “tendency”.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

                If there is an exception to a rule, then it is less a “rule” , and more a “tendency”.

                Semantics. Only the Sith deal in absolutes. Which we are; we are the Sith. Thus, we rule. Absolutely.

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bzWSJG93P8

                • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                  Semantics? Hmmm. I suppose it depends which definition of “rule” one subscribes to.

                  As for the link: I find the first comment humorous. I wonder if he will find a woman willing to marry him if he insists on using that music at the wedding. And, if he does, what sort of woman she will be.

        • Andy Summers

          QFT!!111!!!!!

  • http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/19/MAD_MAX.jpg gxpanos

    “I remember in Tampa, I was with my cousin, and we saw Jeet. And then I looked away, and my cousin stole Jeet’s glove to sell for like two grand. Then I smote him, and now nobody ever hears about him except for when he forgets how to run the bases.”

    • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama
  • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama

    Jorge isn’t even really touching Mo’s knee. C’mon, Jorge. The only thing sillier than the pose they put you in is half-assing the pose they put you in. =P

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

    But to me, and I can talk about Andy and also Sado, you miss your kids. You miss your family.

    Jorge Posada’s new nickname:

    Sado Numspa.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

    For many of us who came of age when Jeter, Rivera, Pettite and Posada arrived in New York, they are the Yankees, and I wonder when we’ll see it again. Rivera isn’t sure it will happen soon. “The beauty about this group of guys is it’s family,” he said. “As a family we all pull for one another. It’s beautiful. I don’t think you will have this, or see this, again, in any other sport. Period.”

    New Core Four, destined for 16 years together in pinstripes:
    Cano
    Joba
    Hughes
    Robertson

    Your mind? Blown.

    P.S. Possible Core Five with HeyZeus. Yes, that’s right. I went there. I did.

    • http://twitter.com/tjamato T.J.

      IETC

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Do we have to include Joba?

      I keed. Maybe.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

        Don’t make me bust out my “Save The Big Three” t-shirt (that I own in my mind).

    • mustang

      I can’t put Robertson in that group yet.

    • mustang

      “P.S. Possible Core Five with HeyZeus. Yes, that’s right. I went there. I did.”

      Slow down reference Brandon Wood.

  • RobC

    Edited by RAB: Off-topic post.

    This is what the off-topic thread is for.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

      This is why we can’t have nice things.

      • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

        There’s always one kid who ruins it for everyone else!

  • Double G.

    What exactly are they doing on that cover? It’s got to be one of the most confusing covers of all time. Andy… ?!

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

      They’re just havin’ fun and roughhousing, Brett Favre style. Just throwin’ the ol’ ball around the ol’ ballyard.

      • AndrewYF

        “This guy…throws 5000 passes a day

    • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama

      seriously, part of me is like “Thank you, whoever posed Andy there.” And the other part of me is like, what in the world were they going for there?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Mayor of the Draft

        The Yankees are good at four things:
        1.) F#$%&ing s#$& up
        2.) Winning titles
        3.) Making money
        4.) Posing horribly awkwardly for pictures, both staged and candid

        To wit:
        http://a.espncdn.com/combiner/.....#038;h=477 (safe)

        • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama

          I love that. It’s like they don’t care about being super excited about winning the WS as much as they do having their crotches be super far apart.

          For further evidence for #4, see the photo on my username. Heh.

  • http://cache4.asset-cache.net/xc/98292368.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921A343B2C87A49D8F5393716D3DED664DB8830F5DE2D38E9FEFC9C9BA2D4A6B468 bexarama

    here’s a picture from the lunch:
    http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/201.....lunch2.jpg

    I like how the other three are dressed nicely and Jeter wore a hoodie.

    • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

      Didn’t you read the article about Mariano’s endorsement deal, particularly the part about how Mo is the only Yankee that could hawk Canali?
      Jeter is a Jeans And Sneakers Kind Of Guy®™©!

      Jeez, get with it, Bexy!

      ;-)