The milestones for Major League Baseball this year have centered on hitters. Derek Jeter had finally gotten 3,000 hits and Jim Thome reached the milestone of 600 home runs. But along with Jeter there has been another Yankee who has reached an epic milestone, and that is New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. The New York Yankees closer has surpassed Trevor Hoffman as the all time leader in saves with a whopping 602.
Rivera and Jeter came through the Yankees organization around the same time. Whereas Jeter was a highly touted prospect, Rivera was an afterthought. Yankees brass thought so little of him that he was left unprotected by the Yankees in the 1992 Expansion Draft. Good thing he wasnât drafted to another team as Rivera would go on to have a lights out career. Initially as a set-up man for then Yankees closer John Wettland, Rivera took the closers reigns in 1997 and the Sandman never looked back.
Rivera embodies the word dominance. With the rotating carousel that is the closers job in baseball, Rivera has had a career ERA of 2.22 and has been the most dominant if not greatest postseason pitcher racking up a ERA of 0.71 in 94 games. In addition to his dominant postseason ERA, Rivera also holds the major league record with 42 postseason saves. To put that into perspective, the next closest player has 18.
A closers job is tough, you donât know what days you are going to pitch and the pressure of trying to close out a game isnât easy for anyone. And if you have ever ran any fantasy baseball team you know saves can be acquired by anyone who can throw a baseball. That is what makes Riveraâs achievement so amazing; the Yankees pitcher has had a steady career for over 16 years and has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball and one of the greatest Yankees players. Mo should be congratulated for his achievement and being 41 and still being this dominant in baseball is an amazing feat.
There is a lot of prestige, legend, lore and dramatic music on FOX surrounding the Fall Classic every year. There are also super long pre-game and inter-game festivities.
None of the last five World Series has gone beyond a fifth game. I need that to change. The best part about post-season baseball is a Game 7. I get nervous at home, in my chair. Even when I have no rooting interest, I still fidget and shift around like my life is on the line.
A-Rod wears an oversized New York Yankees 1999 World Champions jacket. CC clutches his baseball glove in his right arm, like a child with a teddy bear, and holds six baseballs in his massive left hand. Teixeira sucks on a water bottle and rocks in place, a bat propped up in the bend of his elbow.
A-Rod, Teixeira, and CC ask Jeter questions about what it was like to win the World Series four times nearly a decade ago.
Jeter: You have to be natural about it. You donât want âAnything is possible!â and Two-handed up-top Wayneâs World high fives arenât going to do it either. Also, Papelbon dancing should get you beat up.
CC: Hey Captain, if I hit somebody with 98 miles per hour of my awesomeness and he charges the mound, will you have my back?
Jeter: No, your fight is your own. I donât have any fights.
Then Posada stands up and punches Burnett. He sees Damon and Hinske with their Red Sox rings and he starts marching over to them, obviously angry. Before he can get there, however, Damon and Hinske take off â or Hinske tries to, but he is stuck on the bench. Posada chases Damon but his catcher knees canât quite get him there. Damon tries to throw a baseball at Posada, but it only makes it half way to him. Damon leaves and Posada returns to his coffee and newspaper.
The three seated around Jeterâs rocking chair are all startled when Nick Swisher bursts in the locker room, cranks up some heavy metal and starts towel snapping people.
Rivera leans over to Pettitte and whispers.
Rivera: I canât believe this is the guy Joe Buck thinks has changed the culture of our locker room.
Carlos Ruiz, in full catcherâs gear, is watching Cole Hamels hang out with his wife.
Cliff Lee wakes Lidge up to challenge Utley and Werth in throwing cards into a batting helmet.
Utley hands Lidge a stack of Albert Pujols baseball cards to use. Lidge sees them and goes into a catatonic state. Heâs listed as day-to-day.
Big weekend in sports coming up. NLCS, ALCS, NFL, College Football, BCS implications, Rivalries, Cross-town Rival High School Games (somewhere probably), tailgating, etc. Lot of action. Lot. Of. Action.
Did you know Kate Hudson’s dad, Kurt Russell, was a pretty good minor league baseball player before blowing apart his shoulder and returning to his acting career?
So that’s baseball. It’s also a huge weekend in the NFL.
Spotlight on New Orleans where the undefeated Saints play the undefeated New York Giants. It bothers me when radio and TV people say it’s going to be Drew Brees versus Eli Manning. It’s not. Brees and Manning will never be on the field at the same time until they do a man hug at the end of the game.
In the college game this weekend USC travels to South Bend to play Notre Dame. Jimmy Clausen and Matt Barkley are another QB vs QB favorite match-up for the guys in the studios. So is Sam Bradford vs Colt McCoy when the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns go at in the Red River Rivalry. Those two teams love each other.
Boise State already narrowly survived Tulsa and Cincinnati took care of South Florida to keep the hopes of BCS haters alive that someone outside of the Big Ten, Pac-10, SEC, Big 12, or ACC will make a run at the Championship Game.
Tim Tebow is probably receiving accolades somewhere, too.
It is a big weekend for sports. October is a terrible month for marriages and TV remote control control. This is my first October as a married guy. I think it will be important to set a precedent for future years that the MLB playoffs and the NFL and big college football games will be watched. So when I lose this battle, somebody please be prepared to link me to some highlights and provide detailed and accurate recaps.
Here’s another post from newly minted writer Brent. His sports knowledge is vastly impressive and to be frank, a little worrisome. Below you’ll find a reference to Bo Jackson, someone named Charlie something and a Techmo Super Bowl video among other items. It’s quite the creation. We’ll try to get both new guys set up with accounts this week and cut out this bloviating middleman…
My fellow copywriter Ariel is giving you a taste of what youâll see in the playoffs this fall, but there is a lot you wonât see again until Spring Training.
I love Spring Training. I love that it gives every team a brand new start so they can suck and fall well short of expectations (New York Mets, Chicago Cubs), be awesome (Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees), or just experience more fledgling mediocrity (Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays). But for me, it doesnât get much better than post-season baseball. Iâm a Minnesota Twins fan and while the Twins havenât had much success in October in the last decade, they have at least been in the playoffs in four of the last seven seasons, including a Game 163 in 2008 that they lost to the Chicago White Sox. John Danks shut the Twins out in that game but could not deliver the same result in his regular season finale this year against the Detroit Tigers when he walked three in the first inning, including one with the bases loaded. Now the Twins and Tigers will square off in Game 163. 2009 is the third season in a row to require a 163rd game. Two years ago the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 9-8 in 13 innings.
But there are guys who had phenomenal seasons who wonât see stadium lights after October 4th. Zack Greinke led the majors in ERA at 2.16, led the AL in WHIP at 1.07 and finished 3rd in strikeouts in all of baseball. And he won 16 games on a team that won 65 all season.
Albert Pujols got all the press this year in the NL, but what about Prince Fielder’smonster season? Prince set a Brewer record for RBIâs at 141, he hit 46 home runs, behind only 47 by Albert Pujols, and he hit .299 with an on-base percentage of .412.
Roy Halladayâs reputation speaks for itself and because Toronto couldnât get a deadline deal worked out (other than sending Alex Rios to the Chicago White Sox), he too will miss the playoffs, just as he has in every season of his career. The Toronto Blue Jays havenât seen the post-season since they won back-to-back World Series Championships in 1992 and 1993. Remember Joe Carter jumping around first base? That team also had Minnesota natives Paul Molitor, Jack Morris, and former Minnesota Golden Gopher basketball stand out Dave Winfield (yes, basketball, he was also drafted by the Minnesota Vikings without ever having played a down of football in his life) on the roster.
Fernandez went from the Pads to the Mets in 1992 in a deal involving former outfielder/running back D.J. Dozier and then the Mets traded Fernandez back to the Blue Jays in June of 1993. The Padres received McGriff, Dozier, and Wally Whitehurst in exchange for a World SeriesâŚ (more or less, Iâm blowing it out of proportion. But I canât help but be reminded of when the Vikings traded for now MMA fighter Herschel Walker and gave the Cowboys a dynasty. I think Hershal Walker also tried out to be an Olympic bobsledder at some point, too. He dabbles.).
Our old friend Charlie Leibrandt from a few paragraphs ago played with a couple of two-sport athletes. He was a teammate of Bo Jackson on the Royals, who of course was an Oakland Raider and legendary Tecmo Super Bowl player.
Besides getting ready to vacation in warm climates, what else do these guys have in common with Greinke, Fielder, and Halladay? In the next few years, theyâll each probably receive ginormous contract offers from teams you will see in the playoffs this year: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and The Los Angeles, California Angels of Aneheim, USA. Or other big market teams, like the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago White Sox.
Small market teams find it difficult to hold on to their best young talent, even through the playersâ arbitration years, after all, Ryan Howard was awarded $10 million in arbitration after striking out 199 times. I wonder what Mark Reynolds of the Arizona Diamondbacks will get after striking out over 400 times over the last two seasons?
There are pitfalls to rooting for both small market and big market teams, however. Small market teams, like my Twins, have to wave good-bye to guys like Johan Santana and Torii Hunter because they cannot afford to keep them. The Tampa Bay Rays will find out the same thing when they try to hold on to Carl Crawford and others. The Florida Marlins know this reality well and will face it again when it comes time to pay Josh Johnson, Dan Uggla, and Ramirez.
Big market teams throw money at players like they are Pacman Jones making it rain. But that comes with great risk sometimes, too. San Francisco gave Barry Zito $126 million over seven years and they got a #3 starter at best. The Cubs are locked in to Alfonso Soriano for more than any club would like to be. Mike Hampton signed a monster deal once upon a time and then spent much of that time on the DL. The same can be said about Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown, Jason Schmidt and others.
Things you should know that have happened sort of under-the-radar and may be of help to you in future fantasy drafts or baseball nerd conversations:
Jair Jurrjens had a 2.61 ERA for the Braves this year, good for 6th best in baseball.
The New York Mets hit 95 homers as a team, last in the league and 149 behind the league leading New York Yankess. The Mets could combine home run totals with seven other teams and still have fewer than the Yankees did. Handfuls of players could combine their home run totals to have the greater than sign in their favor when compared with the Mets.
Fielder, Braun, and Mike Cameron > 2009 Mets.
Mauer, Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer > 2009 Mets.
The second baseman of the AL East* > 2009 Mets.
Pujols, Fielder, and Carlos Zambrano > 2009 Mets.