Monday, June 29, 2009

Gotta go with Mo


It's difficult to compare closers from different eras because guys like Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter pitched during a time (1970s and '80s) when they were the bridge to themselves.

They often entered games with men on base, and were forced to get out of that inning and often pitch two more innings to finish the deal.

In other words, they were set-up men and closers wrapped into one.

You definitely can argue that Mariano Rivera has had an easier road to traverse than Gossage, Sutter and other Hall-of-Fame relievers, such as Dennis Eckersley and Rollie Fingers, because the majority of the current Yankee star's 500 reagular-season saves have been of the one-inning variety.

That being said, I believe Mo is the best there ever was when you take into account not only his regular-season record but his post-season stats - which include a mind-boggling, miniscule 0.77 earned run average in 76 appearances.

The bottom line is that no reliever has ever been as dominating as Rivera when the pressure was the greatest - in the playoffs and World Series.

One of the amazing thing about Mo is that he's established himself as the greatest closer of all-time by relying on essentially one pitch - a bat-splintering, cut fastball.

Interestingly, the two teams that have given Rivera the most trouble during his first-ballot Hall-of-Fame career have been the Red Sox and Angels. He has made 44 saves and blown 12 games vs. Boston, and has 18 saves and blown 8 leads vs. Anaheim.

Longtime Rochester Red Wings fans might remember how Rivera was used as a starter by the Yankees Triple-A Columbus affiliate back in the early 1990s. In fact, Rivera once pitched a rain-shortenned, five-inning no-hitter against the Wings.

I keep waiting for Father Time to send Rivera permanently to the showers. Mo, who turns 40 on November 29, isn't as dominating as he was in his prime, but he hasn't slowed down much. Despite his age and off-season shoulder surgery, he has comverted 18 of 19 save attempts and has 39 strikeouts in 30 and 2/3s innings. We should all age so gracefully.

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Downpours and a runaway foreign golfer who few heard of before Sunday made for a very uneventful 2009 Wegmans LPGA. Let's just hope that the 33rd edition wasn't the last to be played at Locust Hill.

As I wrote in this cyberspace last week, LPGA Commish Carolyn Bivens will be voted out of office if Rochester's tour stop goes the way of the Corning Classic and so many other LPGA events.

The bottom line is that the LPGA needs Rochester and Wegmans more than they need the LPGA, so Bivens better not play hardball.

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In my book, Bernie Madoff is not only a scam artist but a murderer. The blood of those people who killed themselves as a result of his malfeasance is on his hands.

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Beth and I are big fans of the Zooperstar mascots. We were rolling in the aisles at Frontier Field Saturday night, watching Clammy Sosa, Bear Bonds and Harry Canary perform their spastic hilarity during breaks from the Red Wings-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre game.

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Here's hoping those rumors about Michael Jackson bequeathing the Beatles' music back to Paul McCartney are true. It was a shame that Jackson felt the rights to the Fab Four's music was more important than his friendship with Sir Paul. There were reports that the King of Pop had planned to meet with McCartney about returning the music rights to McCartney as a peace offering. Sadly, that didn't happen before Michael's premature death.

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If Minnesota's game-plan was to draft point guards back-to-back last week in hopes of trading one of them, then shouldn't the Timberwolves deep thinkers already have had a deal in place? The T-Wolves apparently have received some offers for Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio, who they chose fifth, one slot ahead of SU's Jonny Flynn in the recent NBA draft. Rubio is threatening to play in Europe if he doesn't get the deal he desires.

I thought Flynn handled himself with class after Minnesota's bizarre move. He said he'd be happy to share the floor with another young point guard, etc., despite being as perplexed as the rest of us were.

Makes you hope that Flynn gets traded to an organization that isn't as disorganized.
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Maybe, just maybe, the U.S. men's team is finally ready to be a major player on the world soccer stage. I thought the Americans were about to pull off one of the great upsets in their history after taking that 2-0 lead Sunday. Ah, but it was not to be as Brazil stormed back to win, 3-2.
It's sad that the Brazilians decided to talk trash rather than to give the Americans their due after the match.
My experience covering five Olympics taught me a lot about the lack of sportsmanship throughout the world. I saw similar behavior from the Brazilian women's team after the U.S. defeated them twice in Athens in 2004.

1 comment:

drew_brown said...

Re: Zooperstars-
All the kids under 7 or 8 in my section we're quite upset by Clammy Sosa eating that guy. One little girl (probably 4) started balling her eyes out! After he spit out the 'ballboy' my 7 year old son goes, "Ok, that one just wasn't funny dad!" Of course I was laughing hysterically the whole time.

The USA Soccer team has the athletes playing soccer now to compete at the world level. We need more depth. But we've come to a point in really 20 years (since the 1990 World Cup)that took England, Holland, France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, etc 100+ years to reach.