From musclebound wannabe Jose Canseco to half-a-bantamweight Eddie Gaedel, there’s never been a baseball player who could stand upright with a professional fighter for even as long as it used to take Sal Maglie to throw a knockdown pitch. Toughness disparity aside, the great majority of ballplayers simply are not on the same level, athletically, to hang with even the fighters who compete in those little local MMA shows you find in towns that have Single A baseball clubs. (You ever show up at spring training and watch the players run the outfield? It’s not exactly an NFL training camp, much less an easy day at Greg Jackson’s gym.) To make a baseball player’s bout with a UFC fighter even mildly competitive, we’d have to allow the ballplayer to bring his Louisville Slugger into the octagon with him.
But there are traits inherent to baseball players that would come in handy inside the cage. Such as:
A closer: Mariano Rivera
You can dominate the fight (or game) for eight innings (or 4½ rounds), but that’s not enough. Unless, of course, you’re content with being the 1951 Dodgers or ‘86 Red Sox. Or Chael Sonnen.
You’ve got to fight to the finish. And no one does it better—or ever has—than Mariano Rivera. The Yankees closer owns the major league records for saves (608) and games finished (892), has a career earned-run average of 2.21 (it was below 2.00 in eight of his last nine full seasons) and has been at his best when his performance counts most. He has a 0.70 playoff ERA, the best ever, and also the major league record for postseason saves, with 42. The championship rounds are all Mo. If Chael had Mariano in his bullpen, he’d be middleweight champ.
At 42, Rivera will be coming back from a knee injury next season, but that’s just one more way in which the 12-time All-Star is like seemingly half of the fighters in the UFC.
Posted: December 22, 2012 at 10:18 AM | 15 comment(s)
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