We live we die. We laugh and we cry. We know not why. Bent on a life between the lines. End on a sign of the times. -Bryan Ferry
For some time now you’ve been hearing it. For some time now, us Sox fans have been jeering it. Paul Revering it. One if by land, and two if by sea. And I, on the opposite shore will be, ready to ride and spread the alarm. I’m ready to spread the alarm. I’m ready to tell you Mariano Rivera is on his last legs. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Just another douchebag Boston fan trying to stick it to the Yankees. Maybe you’re right. Afterall, it was William Shakespeare who said, “In time, we hate what we often fear.” Thing is, as time wears on, Mariano is less fearful. He’s 41 years old for gosh sakes. 41! Everybody gets old, even the great ones. When Shaquille O’Neal was asked his opinion about Michael Jordan’s comeback in Washington, Shaq Daddy simply replied, “39 ain’t 29, bro”. No it ain’t.
Mariano Rivera is one of the great ones. In fact, he is considered by many baseball experts to be the greatest closer in baseball history:
- Buster Olney says, ”No other player can instill calm in his team’s fans as reliably as Mariano Rivera, the game’s dominant closer and arguably the best relief pitcher of all time .”
- Joe Torre says, “He’s the best I’ve ever been around. Not only the ability to pitch and perform under pressure, but the calm he puts over the clubhouse”
- Trevor Hoffman, the only closer with more saves than Rivera, says, “He will go down as the best reliever in the game in history.”
- Even my boy, Dennis Eckersley, says, “He is the best ever, no doubt.”
But, as great as Mariano is, 41 ain’t 31, bro. Don’t believe me? Want proof? Here’s your proof. I got your proof right here. Yesterday afternoon Mariano Rivera set a major-league record for consecutive 30-save seasons (nine) when he closed out the Yankees’ victory over the Angels. Hooray Mariano Rivera! However, in doing so, he also gave up a three-run bomb to Russell Branyan that cut New York’s lead to one run before Rivera retired the next two batters to earn his record-setting save. For those of you keeping score at home, in each of his last three appearances, Mariano was charged with at least one run while not recording a single strikeout. Big deal, you say? Who cares, you say? I say that makes the first time that Rivera has done that in three consecutive games in his 17-year major-league career. First time. Ever. That’s gotta mean something, don’t it? Sure it does. This does too: Between 1997 and 2009, Rivera gave up runs in three straight outings exactly four times. He has now done it three times in the last 15 months.
I know we’ve seen this before. I know last September Big Mo surrendered runs in three straight outings and then responded with two scoreless games to end the regular season and then added six scoreless outings in the playoffs to boot. I know that. This just seems different. Joe Girardi said, “I don’t think Mo’s forgotten how to pitch.” Neither do I, but mentally knowing what to do and physically being able to carry it out are two very different things.
Peace out homies. Six two and Even!