So, moving on from the batters, we come to survey the pitchers who have made the opening day roster and those who were around in Spring Training but didn’t quite make it. No real surprises here and once the team had decided to re-sign CC Sabathia, everything was settled except the last couple of relief appointments.
The New York Yankees decided in the second half of 2016 that they were going with youth. It was a little surprising therefore, to see their two major signings in the first half of the post-season be a 36-year-old who would be designated hitter and one of the relief pitchers they traded away in the movements that took place around the trade deadline
What: New York Yankees versus Tampa Bay Rays
Where: Yankee Stadium, New York, New York, USA
When: September 4 to 6, 2015
New York City is one of my favourite places in the world. London, Whitby (UK not Canada), Stratford-upon-Avon and New York are the places I love and not necessarily in that order. Being back there is always a good thing.
They call it the City That Never Sleeps and you can see why. But I guess in a city that never sleeps then sometimes changes seem to happen at double the speed. Some of my favourite things about this city are gone forever.
There was Mickey Mantle’s restaurant on 59th Street and its mashed potatoes and chicken. It’s not there are any more. There was the food and idiosyncratic shopping at the South Street Seaport. It’s been demolished. Of course, there was the old Yankee Stadium which you will look for in vain. It’s a long time gone. It’s not only Joe DiMaggio who we must ask where he is gone, some other favourites are gone too.
I first caught the baseball bug in the mid 80s but it was the mid 90s before I journeyed to New York to sit in that old Stadium that Ruth built. Then there was a players’ strike but like them I was to be back the following year. 1995.
1995. The year that a still developing centre-fielder called Bernie Williams was joined in the majors by four more developing stars. Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Somebody told me a few days ago that the New York Yankees buy their success. That’s fine rhetoric and oft repeated but the evidence won’t bear it. The Yankees are at their strongest when their farm system is at its strongest – whether it be the “Core Four” of 1995 or the debuts of Mantle, DiMaggio, Gehrig or Munson. Growing internal greats has always worked out best.
May in the pitching ranks of the New York Yankees went pretty much the way of April. Most of the starters struggled – Michael Pineda was the obvious exception. The bullpen began to look tired: the inevitable result of overuse, caused by sub-standard starting.
Sometimes an article changes direction just as you’re writing it and this is one because the Yankees’ progress over the last month has had more twists than the average tornado.
First there was their majorly disappointing decision not to make an offer to David Robertson. If you’d asked me in September who was the most important player that the Yankees must re-capture in 2015 then there would be no doubt in my mind that it would have been Robertson.
(A meditation on Mariano Rivera, Cooperstown and a tenuous link with Bruce Springsteen)
It’s June of 2011 and we’re sitting in a diner in Cooperstown, New York, waiting for our orders to be served when “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” by Bruce Springsteen begins to play on the jukebox. Now this is a song I’ve listened to a thousand times but this afternoon, it seems so right and seems to capture exactly the spirit of our trip across New York State.
Last night, at Yankee Stadium, Mariano Rivera reached 40 saves for the season.
Here’s a few facts:
Rivera has 79 saves in 81 opportunities in the last two seasons.
His ERA for this season is 1.69. Unless he has a terrible second half of September, this will be the sixth time in the last seven seasons he has delivered an ERA of less than 2.
In total, he has 9 seasons with an ERA of less than 2.
He has pitched over a 1000 innings for the Yankees in a 15 season career and delivered 522 saves over that period.
His ERA in 31 division series games for the Yankees is a minuscule 0.38
His ERA in 25 championship series games for the Yankees is 0.93
His ERA in 20 World Series games is 1.16
He has 34 post-season saves
He has played 8 times for the American League All-Star team. His ERA for them is 0.00
His OBA for the post-season has only once exceeded .250
Since he became a reliever, his OBA for the Yankees in regular season games has never exceeded .300
He has struck out 998 opponents in regular season play
He has ranked in the top 10 save earners in the American League every year since 1997
Mariano Rivera is certainly the best relief pitcher I have ever seen and I would argue that he is the best relief pitcher ever to grace a baseball diamond.