Yes, I know, Mariano Rivera is a New York Yankee. The Yankees are the evil empire. But while I can’t stand Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter (A’s fans, don’t click that link!)… I love watching Rivera pitch. Just not against Oakland.
– Prior to the 1996 season, the Seattle Mariners, sensing the Yankees’ unease with starting rookie Derek Jeter at shortstop, offered to trade veteran shortstop Félix Fermín to the Yankees for Rivera, but no deal was ever agreed upon. (via Mariano Rivera’s Wiki)
– Rivera discovered the cutter accidentally, while playing catch with reliever Ramiro Mendoza (also from Wiki). The ball kept trailing away and he couldn’t make it stop.
– Has one pitch ever been so dominant? Maybe the Ryan Express or Pedro’s changeup or Randy Johnson’s slider. But really, he has built his entire career around throwing that cutter. Rivera can throw a cutter to set up a cutter to set up a cutter for the strikeout. He’s been in the league for 14+ years and still, very few hitters have figured it out, even when they know it’s coming. Rivera could flat out tell a hitter, “Hey, I’m throwing the cut fastball,” and 9 times out of 10, that hitter would miss, or have a broken-bat groundout.
– He just goes about his job. Torre or Girardi call him up 3 or 4 games in a row? Fine. Pitch 2 or more innings? He can handle it, and not throw a hissy fit like he just won the World Series after closing out a 3-run lead over the Royals in May. You never hear him complain about his contract. He doesn’t beat his wife. He doesn’t have 5 kids from 3 women or a rap sheet. He’ll never throw a teammate under the bus or hold out, and I honestly believe he’ll finish as a Yankee instead of trying to hang on with another team. You’ve got to respect things like that, as they’re becoming rarer and rarer and rarer.*
*Side note: I saw a guy at the sports bar on Sunday wearing a Brett Favre Vikings jersey shirt. How much of a tool do you have to do be to live in California and wear a shirt like that?
– He’s seen the lowest of lows, at the beginning of his career (first game – 10-0 loss), in the middle (2001 WS vs. Arizona) and near the end (2004 vs. Boston) and has bounced back every time. He didn’t blame a teammate. Didn’t shift the loss. Didn’t do anything but just take the ball and head back to the mound the next time the skipper called his number.
– This is his entrance music. A hitter’s requiem.