Monday afternoon’s loss and the subsequent reaction from the press served as a reminder that Mariano Rivera has been so good for so long that analysts and writers alike seem to forget that he’s fallible and is, in fact, capable of giving up home runs. The unusual component was that this was the second home run Rivera allowed in the series against the Royals, only the fourth time, as the New York Times pointed out, Rivera had allowed two homers in a series in his career.
Rivera’s reaction, throwing down the rosin bag in disgust and grimacing at his mistake, made backpage headlines here in New York. Why? It’s a natural reaction for anyone who is accustomed to excellence. It wasn’t bratty. It was born out of frustration at making what he deemed to be a basic mistake.
“I got too much of the plate,” Rivera told reporters. “If I make my pitch, I’ll be OK.”
Rivera has blown saves before, and has given up game-costing home runs in the regular season before. (See Bill Mueller, Bill Selby, etc). He has even uttered those same words when explaining home runs he’s allowed.
Four years ago, after blowing two of his first three opportunities of the season, all you heard on talk radio and read in the papers was, “Is Mo done? And if so, who will replace him?” Rivera then rattled off 33 consecutive saves to prove he wasn’t done, and continues to take care of himself to ensure he’s healthy enough to honor the remainder of his contract. Mariano Rivera is many things and has been the Yankees MVP for many years. By reputation and numbers, he may still be the best closer in baseball. One thing he is not, is perfect. This should not be huge news or treated with the level of drama that resulted from the Guillen home run.
Readers of this blog and many other Yankee fan blogs recognize that. The general tone was that the team still is not hitting with runners in scoring position – a trend that has been consistent for four seasons now – and that the Yankees split a four game series against a Royals team that wins as many road games as the Washington Generals.
IN OTHER NEWS Darrell Rasner has turned into a pumpkin. Another result like what occurred in Oakland last night, and Joe Girardi will be pelted with questions on what he’ll do with the rotation when Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes return. We all know Joba Chamberlain will remain as a starter, unless Hank Steinbrenner blames the media for creating that theory.
Please sir, I want some more… The Yankees are requesting more public funding to complete the Stadium project. I wish you could buy stock in things like that.
Radio ga-ga… Driving home from upstate New York this past Sunday from my wife’s college reunion, we turned on CBS-880 to listen to the game (I’ll admit it, I’m caught up in the Joba stuff). Not only did CBS cut out from the western tip of Jersey just after crossing the Delaware Water Gap, it was fuzzy from the George Washington Bridge all the way back to Long Island. Reception is usually pretty solid.
It was probably for the best. The more I listen to John Sterling, the more I want to either get satellite radio or just not listen to the Yankees when I can’t watch them.
Hanky Panky… Speaking of Hank, Big Stein The Younger will be a guest columnist for Sporting News Today, starting July 23. If nothing else, it’ll be entertaining. Imagine if the 24/7 news cycle existed 30 years ago when GMS III was in his prime. One thing to watch: if the tone of his column or the information therein is consistent with what he tells local reporters on the record.
We’ve heard this before…Tino Martinez is the latest entrant in what’s becoming the annual Yankees’ “can’t dig themselves too much more of a hole but you can’t ever count them out” parade.
T-minus four weeks until the All-Star break. Let’s see if Interleague turns the tide and gets everyone on a Yankees bandwagon the way it, and a 20-game win streak, did for the A’s in 2001.