One Pitch

5 11 2009


When Mariano Rivera came in during the 8th inning last night the game was over.  The commentators knew it, the Yankees knew it, the fans knew it, and most importantly the Phillies knew it.  As I watched Mariano Rivera work the 8th and the 9th inning of last night’s series clinching victory, it made me realize how much respect I have for him.  I should put it out there so that the readers know it, I hate the New York Yankees, but I respect no player more than Mariano Rivera.

Rivera has been the linchpin in each of the Yankees five world series victories.  I know that Derek Jeter is Mr. Yankee and he has a laundry list of beautiful women that would make anybody jealous.  If it weren’t for Mariano Rivera they might have one or two world championships, but there is no way that they have five.  Derek Jeter’s clutch hit highlight reel is as good as anyone in the history of the game, but if you ask around baseball the one guy that the Yankees can’t do without is Rivera.  The New York Yankees have 27 world series championships and five of them are thanks to Mariano Rivera.

Let’s go back to 1995 when Mariano Rivera was a minor league prospect with average stuff.  He was throwing his fastball at around 88-90 mph which is good, but not great.  Things changed for Rivera when the Yankees were looking into trading for Tigers pitcher David Wells and the Tigers were interested in Rivera who was pitching for the Yankees AAA affiliate in Columbus.  Rivera was three years removed from elbow surgery and by all accounts made a full recovery.  Then General Manager Gene Micheal was looking into the deal with the Tigers and called Columbus to check on Rivera’s numbers.  When he asked how hard Rivera was throwing Micheal was shocked when he heard he was touching 96.  Micheal cut off trade talks with the Yankees then and there and the rest is history.

Rivera lives and dies by one pitch, the cutter.  The pitch that every player in the game knows and fears.  When you step into the box against Rivera everybody knows it coming and it doesn’t matter, the cutter is just that good.  He throws it as hard as a fastball, but it moves like a slider.  That’s why so many major league hitters have shattered their bats against him over the years, last night was no different for the Phillies.

As soon as you hear Enter Sandman over the loud speaker at Yankee Stadium the night is over.  There isn’t anybody as calm and collected in the business as Mariano Rivera.  Have you ever seen Mariano Rivera lose his cool under any circumstance or even show the slightest bit of worry?  I haven’t and you never will because that’s not Rivera.  Come to think of it when was the last time you heard Rivera say anything?  The only time you hear from him is after a World Series victory and even then he gives you the company line.

Nothing exemplifies the Yankee way more than Rivera’s stall worth presence in the 9th inning.  Last night the commentators mentioned a stat that blew my mind.  The Yankees have handed Rivera the lead of at least four runs 205 times including last night and they have lost once.  One time that’s it, I challenge anyone to find a better stat in all of baseball, one out of every 205 chances that’s incredible.  All you can do is tip your cap just like the many players who have headed back to the dugout after failing against Rivera and his pitch, the cutter.

Written by: Jesse Kunz
halfmanhalfdog team



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