Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Mariano Rivera and Joe Torre at Southern Connecticut State Lyman Center

4/20/15, "Yankee greats Mariano Rivera, Joe Torre entertain sold-out crowd at SCSU," New Haven Register, David Borges

"Joe Torre stood up, stuck out his right arm and made the call to the “bullpen.”

The power chords of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blasted out of the speakers, and to a thunderous applause, out came Mariano Rivera.

It was like 1998 all over again at Southern Connecticut State’s Lyman Center for the Performing Arts on Monday. A sold-out crowd heard Torre and Rivera — “Joe and Mo” — talk about numerous topics in a panel discussion hosted by ESPN’s Linda Cohn: playing for George Steinbrenner (“I didn’t get the same George as Billy Martin had to deal with,” said Torre. “I got George on the back nine”); the batter Rivera least liked to face (Edgar Martinez); whether Rivera had ever even heard of Metallica before their song became his anthem (“Never in my life”).

It was all part of the 17th annual Mary and Louis Fusco Distinguished Lecture series.

The two had some strong opinions on the current state of baseball.

“Nowadays, players feel like this game has been waiting for them to show up,” said Torre, who skippered the Yankees to four world titles and is now chief baseball officer for Major League Baseball. “There’s a certain amount of entitlement, and not only in our sport, others, too, where they feel they’ve arrived before they’ve arrived. Mariano earned what he got.”

Both men were also not happy with the recent beanball incidents, most notably the events over the weekend with Oakland and Kansas City, where Oakland’s Brett Lawrie was thrown at — twice — after what the Royals considered a dirty takeout slide.

“That really bothers me, because somebody’s gonna get hurt,” said Torre, who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame last summer. “On the hitters’ side, if you throw anything close to them, they get a little upset.”

Added Rivera: “You know when it’s on purpose and when it’s not. Hitters nowadays want the whole plate. Pitchers need to find an area to be successful. Hitters are wearing armor — helmets, elbow pads ... and they’re out over the plate. So, where’s the plate for us?

Overall, however, both men seemed perfectly content in their post-Yankee lives. Rivera retired after the 2013 season, followed by Derek Jeter last season.

“It’s the first time you don’t have a schedule for these guys,” said Torre. “You can’t find Jeter. Every time you think he’s in this part of the country, he’s in a different part of the world.”
Torre and Rivera took several questions from the crowd.

“Mariano,” one youngster asked, “what did you do to break out of a slump?”

“He never had one,” Cohn quipped.

Another member of the audience asked Torre about attending Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium last fall against Baltimore. Torre noted that, with a runner on second and one out and Jeter coming up for perhaps his final at-bat, Jorge Posada — who was sitting behind Torre — whispered, “They’re gonna walk him intentionally.”

“If they do that,” Torre replied, “I’m gonna suspend (O’s skipper) Buck Showalter.”

Rivera said that the Yankees were the only team he wanted to play for, after watching them often as a kid in Panama because Panamanian native Roberto Kelly was on the team. He said winning became second nature once he donned the pinstripes.

“I was brainwashed in the minor leagues,” Rivera said. “Our goal was always to win. When you have an owner like George Steinbrenner, form Rookie Ball on, you’d better win. We grew up in that environment.”

And win they did, notching four World Series championships together. Rivera added a fifth in 2009 with Joe Girardi as skipper. They certainly won over the overflow crowd of over 1,500, many of them bedecked in Yankees gear. When Torre was first introduced by Cohn, he earned a long standing ovation.

“If anybody ever tells you you’re over the hill when you reach 55, you’re on the back nine, don’t believe it,” said Torre, who took over the Yankees’ helm in 1996 at that age. “That was the best time of my life.”

Then Rivera, the greatest closer in history who will undoubtedly join Torre in Cooperstown upon his initial eligibility in a few years, earned an even louder ovation when Torre made the call to the bullpen and Metallica blared overhead."


Friday, April 17, 2015


Craig Kimbrel isn't Mariano Rivera-Mitch Evans

4/8/15, "Mitch Evans: Craig Kimbrel Is Not Mariano Rivera," Atlanta.CBSlocal.com

"For all the folks in Braves Country that bemoaned the eve of the season opening trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to San Diego, I understand the despair.

President of Baseball Operations John Hart swore up and down throughout spring training that he wasn’t looking to deal away the team’s home grown star, not even after he had cleaned house in the off-season by making swaps for Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis.

The fact that Hart fibbed shouldn’t be held against him. It’s what people in sports management do. Call it the Art of the Smokescreen.

But in scanning through Twitter and other forms of social media, there was one theme that seemed to be at the heart – no pun intended – of the Braves fans collective disappointment: Kimbrel was comparable to the greatest closer the game has ever seen: Mariano Rivera.

Those fans need to stop it, and stop it right now.

Craig Kimbrel is not Mariano Rivera.

Kimbrel has four fantastic years to his name. Rivera had 16.

Craig Kimbrel is not Mariano Rivera.

Kimbrel saved 40 games or more in all four of his seasons in Atlanta. Rivera did it nine times, and twice after the age of 40. Kimbrel will be lucky to be still in a major league uniform when he’s 40.

Craig Kimbrel is not Mariano Rivera.

Of Rivera’s record 652 saves, 119 of those were of the more than one inning variety. Kimbrel has zero.

Craig Kimbrel is not Mariano Rivera.

As we speak, Kimbrel has 186 career saves. For him to pass Rivera, he will average to average 45 saves per season….through 2024.

Craig Kimbrel is not Mariano Rivera.

Kimbrel has one post-season save to his name. Yes, some of that is the Braves fault for not being able to get him more opportunities. But nonetheless, the number is what it is. One.

Rivera, appropriately enough to match his famous uniform number, has 42 post-season saves.
Craig Kimbrel is not Mariano Rivera.

So for all of those fine Braves fans who watched Jason Grilli save the season opener in Miami with 95 mph heat, but sat there and complained that he wasn’t Craig Kimbrel… remember this:

Craig Kimbrel is not Mariano Rivera."

The regular season saves record won't be Rivera’s legacy anyway, NYT:
3/7/2013, "Next Step for Rivera: Closing a Career," NY Times, Tyler Kepner

"Kimbrel met Rivera last winter, at the New York baseball writers’ dinner, and Rivera gave him one piece of advice: stay healthy.
The saves record could fall someday, maybe even to Kimbrel, with a lot of health and luck.
It will not be Rivera’s legacy, anyway.
The postseason distinguishes Rivera from every other reliever, before or since. His regular-season earned run average is 2.21. His postseason E.R.A.in 96 games against the best competition, under the most pressure — is 0.70."... 
Comment:  Regarding "post season opportunities," not everyone who goes to the post season gets good numbers. Post season pitchers have shorter off seasons, shorter amounts of time in which to recover for the next regular season, have pitched under the most pressure, against the best hitters, often in cold and rain. Rivera pitched until November 4th twice, in 2001 and 2009. His 141 post season innings are the equivalent of 2 additional years of relief pitching @ 70 IP/yr. These additional 2 years have been pitched within the same calendar years as players who only played in regular season. The majority of his postseason appearances were more than 1 inning: "Rivera finished off the eighth inning and pitched the ninth, the 53rd time in the postseason he’s gone more than three outs." (parag. 5). 10/12/2009, "Familiar faces push Yankees to the ALCS," Jeff Passan. After the 2009 ALDS, Rivera added 5 more postseason multi-inning appearances: 2009 ALCS game two, 2.1IP, 2009 ALCS game 6, 2IP, 2009 WS game two, 2IP, 2009 WS game six 1.2IP, and 2010 ALDS game one, 1.1IP (men on 2nd and 3rd). Of his 96 post season appearances, 58 were multi-inning.
These things aren't mentioned with regular season stats or what are called "career" stats.

Per Baseball Reference, Kimbrel appears to have one regular season save of more than 3 outs, a 1.1 IP appearance on 8/25/13, entered with a man on first and 3 run lead. I did want to mention that Mo has 8 wins in post season, was MVP of 1999 World Series and 2003 ALCS. He also pitched nine innings in All Star Games and has a zero ERA.

In 1996 Rivera pitched 107.2 innings in regular season followed by 14.1 innings in post season including 3 days in a row in the World Series (10/21, 10/22, and 10/23) for a total of 122 innings.

Page 208 from Joel Sherman's book, "Birth of a Dynasty," about the 1996 Yankees, published in 2006 by Rodale:

"Most amazingly, of the record 4,962 homers spanked in 1996, Rivera allowed just one,

Rivera at 2013 Spring Training in Tampa, AP, via NYT



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