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Entries in Mariano Rivera (19)

Thursday
Jul182013

Peter Gammons: Mariano Stands Alone

The lasting memory of the 2013 All-Star Festival will forever be Mariano Rivera standing alone and its reasoning...his peers respected the fact that, indeed, he has stood alone for nearly two decades, and in that time he has stood for dignity and civility that may be unprecedented.

Few in any field have ever been amongst the best of their peers, and yet stood alone because of their achievements and character, and everyone understands that.

Oh, it was New York, but it was not about the Mets and the Yankees; Mariano is above all that.

When he was a free agent after the 2010 season and was dancing with the Yankees, then-Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein reached out to Rivera’s agent Fern Cusa and made a three-year offer for $45M. Cusa and Mariano talked it over and realized it could leverage the Yankees, but Rivera asked for Epstein’s number, called him, thanked him and respectively declined.

“As much as I respected the Red Sox and what they were trying to do for me,” Rivera said the next spring, “it wouldn’t be right to pitch in another uniform.”

He did not use it for negotiating purposes. He did what he knew was right, because he is Mariano Rivera, and he stands alone.

The Biogenesis Ripple Effect

So while Rivera stood alone from the rest of the four-day festivities and a large chunk of the news cycles involved the Biogenesis investigation, its leaks and reports and potential suspensions, all of which enabled the free-flow of the words “scandal” and “garbage” and “cesspool” and so forth. Which, in turn, overshadowed the story that shone out from the shadow of the Rivera Monument.

In this post-testing era, when the leaders of the Players Association openly admit that the vast majority of the union they represent strongly want a clean game and are allowing MLB to at least proceed in their prosecution of those involved with the Miami lab, as long as there is due process. Players and lawyers understand that the clouds hovering above the game are the residue of the Steroid Era.

Chris Davis arrived at Citi Field with astonishing numbers, yet there were those who under the anonymous bedsheet of the blogosphere who questioned whether or not he’s another performance enhancing drugs product. Just ask Jose Bautista. He knows how what happened a decade ago has allowed some to spraypaint his wall of achievements. 

Davis is a guy who in 2007-2008 in Double- and Triple-A hit 61 homers in 206 games, in his first 80 games with the Texas Rangers hit 17 homers and posted an .880 OPS. Of course, he went through an adjustment to the adjustment American League pitchers made on him, but when he got to Camden Yards and was rewarded for his left centerfield power, and learned his strike zone the way David Ortiz learned his strike zone when he got to Fenway Park, saw his career take off.

“The shame of the steroids era is that a Chris Davis has to suffer from it,” says Buck Showalter.

Exactly.

The All-Star Festival was a Celebration of Youth

The story of the All-Star Festival was not about the good old days, but the youth.

Tuesday night there was Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, Chris Sale, the great Clayton Kershaw, Craig Kimbrel. OMG stuff, all.

In the field there was Mike Trout, 21-years old, second in the game in Wins Above Replacement. And 20-year old Manny Machado. And Bryce Harper, who is seven weeks older that Johnny Manziel, whose Wednesday morning press conference at the S.E.C. media day dominated ESPN.

On Monday night, Harper and Yoenis Cespedes put on a stupendous Home Run Derby Show, outgunning established great players like Prince Fielder, David Ortiz, Miguel Cabrera.

For all the complaints that baseball didn’t get it by not bringing Yasiel Puig to the exhibition after 38 games and 161 plate appearances, it turned out that, once again, MLB got it right. It put Cespedes, the best young Cuban player in the majors, on the Derby stage and he hits balls that prompted Harper to say “I had no idea” and David Wright to marvel, “Cespedes hit a ball where no one has ever gone in this park.”

Sunday’s Futures Game showed off the breathtaking abilities of 20-year old Twins third baseman Miguel Sano, Boston’s 20-year old shortstop Xander Bogaerts, two more future All-Star shortstops in 18-year old Francisco Lindor of the Indians and Carlos Correa of the Astros, Houston’s power/speed center fielder George Springer and big arms like Arizona’s 20-year old Archie Bradley, the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard and Seattle’s Taijuan (Sky) Walker.

It was as if Harvey and Syndergaard opened a door that finally allowed Mets fans to stop thinking about Adam Wainwright’s curveball to Carlos Beltran and realized there is light on the horizon. Fernandez allowed those identified as Marlins fans to forget the sign-and-trade season of the mercenaries and move on.

It is right to glorify the game’s past, and at this midsummer night, it was especially right to honor a man who indeed stands alone, and to have Rivera and Tom Seaver stand on the same mound on the same night.

But where baseball too often invokes the yawns of the generation that watches Bryce Harper on their iPhones is when it dwells in the past, the texture of this four-day festival was the power and the youthful glory of a bunch of guys like Harper, Trout, Machado, Harvey, Fernandez, Sano, Bogarts, Correa et al, most of whom are Manziel’s contemporaries. 

Monday
Jun242013

Who won't be an All-Star for the Yankees?

Spoiler alert:

Just about everyone.

The only Yankees heading  to Queens for the July 16 All-Star game are Robinson Cano and Mariano Rivera.

It is truly amazing to see the lack of qualified Yankees after so many years in which fans feared that the Yankee starting lineup would represent the American League in the mid-season classic.

Position-by-position

  • AL catchers are hitting .245, with an OBP of .313 and slugging .406. The three Yankee catchers, Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, and Austin Romine, are hitting .227/.293/.330 and none are worthy of consideration
  • First basemen are hitting .263/.338/.451 in the AL and the Yanks are hitting .214/.277/.402. With all due respect, Lyle Overbay is not an All-Star.
  • Second basemen are hitting .272 and while Dustin Pedroia is hitting .311, voters prefer Cano's .283 because Robby has 16 homers to Pedey's four.
  • Third basemen in the AL are also hitting .263. Yankee third sackers Jayson Nix, Kevin Youkilis, Chris Nelson, and David Adams are hitting .246, but they third base slot for New York has produced four homers in 300 PA.
  • "All-Star Shortstop" was Derek Jeter's unofficial prefix. This season Yankee shortstops are hitting .205. I don't want to give any other numbers.
  • Let's go to the outfield and dream about Mickey Mantle, Bernie Williams and Bobby Murcer.
  • AL outfielders are hitting .259/.321/.415. Yankee outfielders are hitting .261 (thank you Brett Gardner)/.311/.399. But, let me remind you that these numbers reflect every person who has played the outfield this season, not just the guys who deserve to be All-Stars.
  • The Yankee Designated Hitters this season are hitting .205 (gasp!). Even Robby Cano has only hit .154 as a DH.
  • There is one Yankee starting pitcher who could get consideration to go to Citi Field and that is Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda has a 2.98 ERA and is the only Yankee starter with an ERA under 4.09. But Hiroki is only 7-5 and there are too many more successful starters than Hiroki and three of them pitch for Detroit.
  • Mariano would be an All-Star this season, if he just showed up, but Rivera is showing up batters and is tied for the major lead league with Jason Grilli and Jim Johnson, with 26 saves. And as hard as I have tried to get him to start, it appears that Mariano will be on the hill in the 9th, no matter what the score, no matter how few people are watching.

So there you go It's Robinson Cano and Mighty Mo As the rest of the Yanks, are just so-so.

Monday
Mar112013

Four from the Bill Chuck Files...

Best/Worst: Blue Jays and Nationals

Here are the best and the worst seasons of the two teams whose franchises are rooted in O Canada (and may be meeting in the 2013 World Series).

Source: Billy-Ball.com

The (Season-) Long Goodbye starring Mariano Rivera

This season-long goodbye is not a Raymond Chandler Philip Marlowe novel, it’s the Mariano Rivera Goodbye Tour.

For those fans away from New York, here are the dates in which you can get to say a final farewell to one of baseball’s immortals.

SourceBilly-Ball.com

From the Sunday Funnies: Big Nate

The very talented Lincoln Peirce, the cartoonist behind Big Nate found in over 300 papers and in print for 22+ years, shared his view on his very favorite team yesterday.

SourceBilly-Ball.com

Nine to Know: 2012 Grand Slams

David Wright‘s grand slam on Saturday enabled Team USA to defeat Italy, 6-2.

So far, the most interesting aspect of the WBC was the basebrawl between Mexico and Canada over apparently who is really the United States’ BFF.

Wright’s grand slam was the first for Team USA since Jason Varitek on March 8, 2006, against Canada which got me thinking about grand slams in games that count/matter/of interest.

SourceBilly-Ball.com