Monday, April 18, 2011
Bobby Valentine on Mariano Rivera: 'Yankee success for 15 years is because of this guy and no one else'
4/17/11, During 9th inning of Texas Rangers-Yankee game on ESPN television, Bobby Valentine said the following as Mariano Rivera pitched:
- "Why is it so hard for people to understand," when they're talking about a starter or a closer, "the Yankees success over the past 15 years is because of this guy and no one else."...
Dead silence from Valentine's booth mates, as expected. This is ESPN after all. Sounds like Valentine has run into the company line a few times. The mates had made glowing observations of Rivera on the telecast but were apparently shy about superlatives. (3 examples of other superlatives at end of this post). (Update, Phil Rogers comments on Valentine's statement about Rivera, see end of this post. Rogers liked what Valentine added to the show).
- Other examples of "dead silence":
"Rollie Fingers was a guest of Kevin and Rob today. Rollie won the AL Cy Young and AL MVP in 1981. Kevin & Rob asked him if he thought Mo should go to the Hall of Fame, & Rollie said yes, & gave the reasons why. Then, they really stepped in it. They asked him if he thought Mariano should've won the Cy Young, and Rollie said yes again. He then said he doesn't get a vote, and he's not a sportswriter. But, he said Mo was the best pitcher in the American League. He said he had command of all his pitches, won the right games in the right situations, and got his team there. Response from Kevin & Rob:
Nov. 15, 2005, "Dashed! Arod invokes Mariano Rivera"
"Kevin and Rob interview AL MVP, Alex Rodriguez. Rob asks him who is the most impressive person he's met in the game. Answer: Edgar Martinez and Mariano Rivera. Response from Kevin or Rob:
10/08/07, "Buck Martinez on WFAN with Mike and Chris says Rivera success due to hitters being 'tired' in October"
"Mike mentions the Padres' using Hoffman recently (in late inning high-stakes games) was more out of tradition. Buck Martinez does not respond about Hoffman but changes the subject to Mariano Rivera:
- "Let me say this about Trevor Hoffman. Hitters are more tired in October which is why Mo does better than Hoffman would."
- By 2009, Buck Martinez appeared to have a new appreciation of Rivera.
World Series game 4 pregame on XM 175, Buck Martinez said of Mo:
- "He might be the most impactful player we've ever seen."
posted on that date)."
Superlatives, one from Gammons, 2 from Lupica:
12/21/09, "Peter Gammons Unplugged," by Richard Deitsch, 12/21/09
- "Mariano Rivera. I think he is the
- most distinguished man that I've ever covered.
7/14/08, "Mariano Rivera is the Brightest Yankee Star of All," Mike Lupica column in the NY Daily News. (And Mike Lupica is the bravest NY Daily News employee of them all. ed.)
"But there is no debate, none, about Rivera,
- the best closer in history,
- the best money pitcher in history,
- a power relief pitcher and
- a power closer who
- in the history of baseball."...
8/13/06, ""It's Time to Face the Truth," Mike Lupica, NY Daily News
"He (Rivera) might not just be the most valuable Yankee of the Joe Torre era,
- but perhaps the most valuable Yankee of all time."...
(Article's headline references Paul LoDuca, Lupica happened to mention Rivera within the article about LoDuca.)
Baseball being what it is, there are a few narratives they don't like. To reinforce select narratives they do one of 2 things, either manipulate information about a player's career so his real value is minimized, (like not mentioning a pitcher's post season innings in making claims about his durability, saying the team is using him sparingly in regular season without mentioning he pitched 16 innings in the adjacent post season while other pitchers were sitting on a couch resting up to pad their regular season stats), or ridicule those who make superlative statements.
I would not bring the subject up, but no one ridiculed Sheldon Ocker or the BBWAA when he said the following, 11/9/2005 about Mariano Rivera, per the NY Times:
11/9/05, "Award eludes Rivera; Colon wins the Cy Young," NY Times, Tyler Kepner (Ocker quote at end of article)
Brian Cashman echoes Valentine, Gammons, Lupica and others. Cashman is of course Rivera's employer and therefore can be ridiculed, but he is not so charitable about all his employees:
4/18/11, "Rivera is good enough to reduce his hardened general manager to a gushing fan.
“He’s incredible,” Brian Cashman, the Yankees G.M., said by phone Monday. “He’s been the most valuable Yankee we’ve had during this run. When Tiger Woods was dominating golf for so long, we used to say, ‘He’s Tiger Woods.’ But he still is.
“He’s just continued to dominate in the major leagues, year after year,
4/18/11, "At 41, Rivera is still cutting down hitters," NY Times, Dan Graziano. UPDATE, The headline for this article has been changed to read, "At 41, star closer hasn't lost his edge"
4/18/11, "Your morning Phil: Zambrano, Indians, Valentine," Chicago Tribune, Phil Rogers
"As much as I enjoyed Jon Miller, ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball is better with a three-man booth that includes Bobby Valentine and Orel Hershiser. Those two always find something to add. Valentine pounded on Rangers starter Alexi Ogando for lacking quality breaking pitches on Sunday, saying he's not going to enjoy much success as a starter without a better selection of pitches than he had against the Yankees. He also said a team is making a mistake if it moves a successful closer into the rotation, as the Rangers almost did with Neftali Feliz, and pointed to Mariano Rivera as the single most important piece of the Yankees' long run -- meaning he values Rivera more highly than even Derek Jeter. That's saying a lot. Joe Morgan, who was Miller's long-time partner, rarely added much."
Another update defending Valentine's statement:
4/19/11, "Mariano Isn’t Just The Straw, He Created And Mastered The Drink," CBS Local/WFAN, NY, Jeff Capellini
"But the fact remains Valentine, regardless of his reputation as being a bit out there, is about as brilliant and colorful a baseball mind as you will find. And during the broadcast of the Rangers-Yankees game on Sunday night
- he stated something rather apropos.
Valentine and Orel Hershiser, another guy who knows an awful lot about baseball, were breaking down the nuances of why Rivera has basically dominated the sport for seemingly ever with one weapon. They diagrammed and telestrated the art of the cut fastball as only Rivera throws it. They described in great detail how Rivera can basically make it do anything he wants it to do whenever he wants it done. He can start it down the middle against lefties so it makes a left turn at Albuquerque in on the hands. He can throw it at the left hip so it acts like a boomerang against righties. He can still go up the ladder with ferocity and out of the zone with cunning purpose. The two baseball minds basically broke down the greatness of Rivera in a couple of minutes.
Valentine then spoke gospel, broke off into a sort of soliloquy that may have annoyed a few hundred thousand people, but at the end of the day is the truth. He said (I’m summarizing here) Rivera is the single reason why the Yankees are the winning juggernaut they are, why they have basically terrorized baseball to the tune of five world championships and 15 postseason appearances in the past 16 seasons. Bobby V. made it clear the Yankees are who they are not because of the prowess of another New York sports icon — No. 2, Derek Jeter.
Now that debate could be endless. It could be like trying to argue politics or religion. But in the legislative body or prayer group that is New York baseball it would be easier to just thank our elected officials or leaders of our respective flocks for having the wherewithal for acquiring both of these ballplayers and honing them for as long as it has taken to make them into the stars they have become and continue to be."