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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Beatty: If Mariano Rivera did not exist, would we have to invent him?

As Michael the QUE?! points out…“Yankees are playing .636 ball, AM (After Mariano)....542 before.”

Baseball observers schism into intuitionists and empiricists over the matter of closers. Some have been ripping on saves, and the men who make them, as overrated, for decades, and seemingly every year a team—with varying degrees of success—announces an attempt at closer-by-committee. Just as often, sports-talk ululationists and tabloid backpages make the case that teams need brand-name solutions at the back of their bullpen, or everything will be f***ed.

If you watched K-Rod implode as a Met, or have ever watched Matt Capps pitch, you can appreciate the thrift wisdom of Joe Maddon’s open-sourced closer solution. If you watched Joe Borowski close games, you can not mind the retail shock therapy of giving a multi-year, mid-10-figure contract to a guy who’s probably going to pitch a third as many innings as Jake Westbrook. The position is surely overrated and overpaid, but try to convince someone living in the afterglow of Calvin Schiraldi or Jose Mesa’s love.

Rivera’s injury was the most prominent catastrophe to the closer guild in 2012, but it’s been an ugly early season for that particular profession. No fewer than 12 teams have changed closers, because of wonky thumbs, torn ligaments, and talent deficiencies (perceived or real). The internet paranoia kettle, stoked in part by fantasy tweakers, is always shrieking with news about closer legitimacy crises, something that the Yankees haven’t known since the first Rudy Giuliani mayoralty.

Repoz Posted: May 15, 2012 at 04:01 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics, yankees

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: May 15, 2012 at 04:43 PM (#4132160)
If Rivera wasn't real, the sabermetric community would probably scoff at the idea of him.


Also:
Rivera is literally irreplaceable—no one will be allowed to wear number 42 in MLB games after he retires, save for April 15 every year, when everyone will have to wear it, including whoever is closing games for the Yankees. Rivera is the greatest closer of all time, even if he doesn’t succeed in his already-announced comeback. In the 45 years since the save was invented (and retroactively applied to the game’s foregoing century of results) no one has saved more games than Rivera; in the nearly twenty-years that Rivera has been coming into games, no one murked futile hopes, both physically and spiritually, more routinely than the Yankees’ wax-faced reaper of bats.


...ya know, 42 isn't being retired on an account of Rivera.
   2. Randy Jones Posted: May 15, 2012 at 04:47 PM (#4132164)
...ya know, 42 isn't being retired on an account of Rivera.


Only because he isn't retired yet. When he is, the Yankees will retire 42.
   3. Kurt Posted: May 15, 2012 at 04:49 PM (#4132166)
I will bet anyone a BB-ref sponsorship that when Rivera retires, the Yankees will hold a ceremony retiring #42 in his honor, and place a second #42 on the display of retired numbers.
   4. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 15, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4132178)
As well they should.
   5. DA Baracus Posted: May 15, 2012 at 05:04 PM (#4132190)
Only because he isn't retired yet. When he is, the Yankees will retire 42.


Without a doubt. It's already happened, the Cardinals retired Bruce Sutter's #42 in 2006.
   6. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: May 15, 2012 at 05:15 PM (#4132206)
If Rivera hadn't existed, wouldn't Trevor Hoffman just have had more acclaim?
   7. Eddo Posted: May 15, 2012 at 05:18 PM (#4132209)
Obviously, the Yankees will retire #42 for Rivera; it's an action I completely agree with.

However, the line:
Rivera is literally irreplaceable—no one will be allowed to wear number 42 in MLB games after he retires

heavily implies that all of MLB will be retiring #42 on behalf of Rivera.

It's technically true that "no one will be allowed to wear number 42 ... after [Rivera] retires", but that glosses over the pretty important fact that no one else is allowed to wear it while he is playing. Because, you know, a much, much, much, much, much more important figure in baseball history wore #42.
   8. PepTech Posted: May 15, 2012 at 05:42 PM (#4132237)
Mo Vaughn?
   9. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: May 15, 2012 at 05:42 PM (#4132238)
No, no, that was the other Pedro Martinez.
   10. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: May 15, 2012 at 05:48 PM (#4132247)
When I was a kid, we had to invent Mariano Rivera all the time. Kids today have just had Mariano Rivera handed to them.
   11. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: May 15, 2012 at 06:09 PM (#4132291)
including whoever is closing games for the Yankees.


I find this interesting. I hadn't considered this. For the next few April 15ths, it'll be weird for that guy.
   12. JE (Jason) Posted: May 15, 2012 at 06:15 PM (#4132299)
The Mets are waiting for just the right moment to retire Ron Hodges' number.
   13. Big fan Posted: May 15, 2012 at 06:59 PM (#4132332)
"If Rivera hadn't existed, wouldn't Trevor Hoffman just have had more acclaim?"
about as much as Lee Smith got for the years he was the all time saves leader.
   14. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 15, 2012 at 07:52 PM (#4132378)
In the 45 years since the save was invented (and retroactively applied to the game’s foregoing century of results) no one has saved more games than . . .


Now that some pitchers break-in as closers, they do have a chance to get a head start on Rivera who didn't close regularly until his age 27 season. But they'd still have to awfully durable to threaten the record.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: May 15, 2012 at 07:54 PM (#4132380)
Would we have invented Rivera? I'm guessing we're at least a century away from cyborgs as effective and lifelike as Rivera and two centuries away from the time travelling technology that brought him here.
   16. Howie Menckel Posted: May 15, 2012 at 09:14 PM (#4132413)

I would think a cyborg who could pitch, could pitch more than 60 innings a year.

#justsayin
   17. Gotham Dave Posted: May 15, 2012 at 09:31 PM (#4132422)
I would think a cyborg who could pitch, could pitch more than 60 innings a year.
This is totally nitpicky and in no way refutes your overall point, but Rivera has averaged 69 innings per year and another 8 2/3 in the postseason since 1997, and has pitched 60 innings or less in the regular season exactly twice. #justsayin
   18. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: May 15, 2012 at 10:24 PM (#4132452)
I would think a cyborg who could pitch, could pitch more than 60 innings a year.


But since the cyborg would only be used for 60 innings a year, there's no way we'll ever know if you're right.
   19. Gotham Dave Posted: May 15, 2012 at 10:40 PM (#4132465)
Yes, Rivera DID pitch 107 staggeringly effective innings out of the bullpen in 1996 with no ill effects, and how many relievers have done anything close to that since?
   20. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 15, 2012 at 11:19 PM (#4132499)
Yes, Rivera DID pitch 107 staggeringly effective innings out of the bullpen in 1996 with no ill effects, and how many relievers have done anything close to that since?


No ill effects?? A mere 16 years later, the injury cascade from his fatigue finally screwed up his fly-shagging mechanics enough to end his career!
   21. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: May 16, 2012 at 12:09 AM (#4132526)
If Rivera hadn't existed, wouldn't Trevor Hoffman just have had more acclaim?
Not really. A big part of the Rivera mystique is the 0.70 postseason ERA and five World Series rings.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: May 16, 2012 at 12:42 AM (#4132536)
I would think a cyborg who could pitch, could pitch more than 60 innings a year.

He was at least a 100-year old model before they sent him back, probably already had about 75,000 innings on his arm. And it's not like anybody in our timeline has a clue how to maintain a cyborg.

And who are you gonna call on in the 9th inning -- Mo, Data or the Terminator? (Don't be fooled by the nickname.)

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