Mariano on E:60.
[Picture by Walter Loos for Sports Illustrated]
The Yanks were ahead by a run in the bottom of the eighth when Brett Gardner lead off with a single. The game slowed down considerably as he plotted to steal second, which he eventually did, and made it. Then he stole third, too, but still, the Yanks couldn’t bring him home. The inning seemed to take forever–pitch-outs, visits to the mound, failed bunts–and all the planning and counter-planning didn’t amount to a thing.
In the ninth, Mariano Rivera gave up a single to start the inning. The next batter hit a line drive up the middle as the runner on first took off for second. Watching on TV, I saw that the ball was well struck, and knowing that the runner was moving, I sighed, seeing the inevitable: first and third, no out. Instead, Robinson Cano, who was shaded up the middle, caught the ball and walked casually to second where he tagged out the helpless runner. Dumb luck is all. Dumb luck.
Mo struck out the next guy–the ending was routine at that point–and the Yanks had an unspectacular but pleasing 5-4 win.
Not a bad way to start a day off.
[Illustration via Rotomangler]
The Yanks were on their merry way to another tidy victory this afternoon when things suddenly went bad. They were ahead 3-0 and Hiroki Kuroda had quieted the Jays all afternoon. Never mind that the Yanks blew a bases loaded chance with one man out in the middle of the game, they had a three-run lead with one out in the eighth inning. That’s when Lyle Overbay made an error and David Robertson replaced Kuroda. And before you knew it the Jays tied the game–sombitch Melky Cabrera had the big hit.
I figured that was it for our boys but the Jays made a critical error themselves which led to a couple of runs in the top of the 11th and Mariano Rivera worked around a lead-off double by Jose Bautista and a loud out by Edwin Encarnacion to earn the save. Struck the last two men out to end it.
What’s more–the Knicks put the clamps on the Celtics in the second half at the Garden and took the first game, 85-78.
And the Nuggets-Warriors game was a hell of a lot of funski, too.
[Photo Via: Lomography]
[Drawings by Moebius]
Again with the snow. Meanwhile, the Yanks are looking for a first baseman.
I’m going to skip the Mariano-worship for now. Not that I don’t love him as much as the next guy, but there will be plenty of time to wax poetic over one of our most favorite men to ever wear pinstripes. Hell, we’ve already done it plenty round here and we’ll have the hankies out and cry on each other’s shoulders all season long like a protracted Lifetime version of Yankeeography (wait, isn’t that redundant? Never mind…).
I went to pick up a package at Todd-AO studios on 54th Street once many years ago and the clerk told me it wasn’t ready, said “there must be some kind of misconfusion.”
Which is something like Brian Cashman said today about Mariano Rivera on Jim Duquette’s show. Via Hardball Talk.
[Photo Credit: N.J. com]
The Yanks have the best record in baseball at the break. Alex Rodriguez is in decline, Russell Martin has suffered through his worst offensive season but first place is first place. So, what’s missing?
Mo, of course.
Rafael Soriano has pitched well since Rivera went down. But if you think that’s going to continue indefinitely I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you…
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]
David Robertson hadn’t given up a run since last September. He was due for a beatin’.
Then again, Jack Curry reminds us that Mariano Rivera blew3 of his first 6 save opportunities back in 1997.
Here’s a vague update on Mo. The news is not good. What it means I don’t know.
[Photo Credit: Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal]
For most of us, death will not announce itself with a blare of trumpets or a roar of cannons. It will come silently, one the soft paws of a cat. It will insinuate itself, rubbing against our ankle in the midst of an ordinary moment. An uneventful dinner. A drive home from work. A sofa pushed across a floor. A slight bend to retrieve a morning newspaper tossed into a bush. And then, a faint cry, an exhale of breath, a muffled slump.
Pat Jordan, “A Ridiculous Will”
All that remained in Mariano Rivera’s incomparable career as the finest short-inning closer in baseball history was an ending. Last night Rivera fell to the ground on the warning track in Kansas City before the game. He shagged fly balls, something he’s done his entire career–teammates and reporters have always said he’d be a smooth outfielder. He sprinted after a ball and jumped as he reached the warning track. Then he was on his back, his mouth open in pain.
But that isn’t the image that replayed in my mind this morning. What I remember most is watching Rivera being driven off the field in a cart and the smile on his face. Maybe he was embarrassed or maybe he wanted to reassure his teammates that he was okay. Or perhaps Rivera, a spiritual man who has always attributed the events in his career– from his accidental discovery on the cut fastball to losing the seventh game of the World Series–to an act of God believed this was just meant to be and who was he to question it? As if he’d been secretly waiting and now he had an answer.
Things fall apart. For everyone.
The loss for Yankee fans, and the team, isn’t just about Rivera’s production. It is emotional and aesthetic. Even looking at Rivera’s statistics, a parade of type-o’s, has an aesthetic beauty to it. When we talk about Rivera’s pitching motion, his mulish imperturbability, his athletic grace under pressure, we think of artists not ball players: Buster Keaton, Fred Astaire, Al Hirschfeld. His career was a reminded that athletic excellence is closer to art than science.
His career might be over. If so, the last out Rivera recorded was a ground ball to Derek Jeter which was turned into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game against the Orioles on Monday night. Rivera may decide to rehab his knee and pitch again. Nobody would blame him if he walked away. He has nothing left to prove. It is our loss. The beauty part of Rivera’s greatness is that he made us appreciate every performance, every pitch, in a way that kept us in the moment, aware that what we were watching was special.
And so I’ll remember the smile on his face as he was carted off the field. It was a smile of acceptance. And it made me feel better the way he always does. That peaceful, easy feeling. Knowing that he could be seriously hurt, that his season or his career could be over, only reinforced my gratitude. He’s given me more pleasure than any other athlete. For that, I can only give thanks.
Mariano Rivera shredded the Twins last night to seal a thrilling victory. Joe Mauer, one of the greatest batsmen in the game, was the second out. Mauer saw one pitch, an insistent, boring cutter and it destroyed him.
Mariano breaks a lot of bats. And he’s caused a few guys to chuck their bats after missing entirely. But what he did to Mauer, I’ve never seen before. Mauer hit the ball – a dribbler to second base – and still lost his bat into the seats. This wasn’t a guy slipping or getting fooled; Mariano literally knocked the bat out of his hands.
I thought of a good-guy gunslinger shooting the bad guy in the hand, or a fencer twirling the epee out his opponent’s grip. But more powerful than that. Maybe one of these moments captures it best:
[Featured Image: Getty]
Nothing like April baseball in the northeast. Cold. Stadium half-empty, and tonight Camden Yards was mostly quiet. Which was a change from the first two nights when the locals made considerable noise rooting for the home team. It was a welcome sound, actually, seeing as how Camden Yards is usually full of Yankee fans during the summer. The game was delayed for close to a half-an-hour so maybe the faithful decided it was best to stay home.
It feels as if the Yanks have been playing an extended version of the same game for six days now. Nothing has come easily, a string of hits or a bunch of runs. They did make some nice plays in the field tonight–Brett Gardner snagged a line drive, Curtis Granderson made a nice running catch, Robinson Cano robbed Matt Wieters of a base hit in eighth inning. And Boone Logan pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless relief.
Granderson hit a two-run home run in the first inning but C.C. Sabathia quickly gave up two and he struggled through six innings. He didn’t have much of a rhythm and while he wasn’t terrible he threw a lot of pitches (especially in the second and third) and gave up four runs. Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta was impressive for the Orioles–hard fastball, nice breaking ball, good control. He had Alex Rodriguez’s head spinning and feet shuffling back to the dugout just as soon as he dug in at the plate.
Granderson tied the game with a base hit in the seventh. The Yanks left runners at second and third in the eighth. Eduardo Nunez later got picked off first. Almost everyone not named Jeter has endured frustrating at-bats in Baltimore.
When the O’s put runners of first and second with two out on in the ninth against Rafael Soriano, the fans chanted “Let’s Go O’s, Let’s Go O’s, Let’s Go O’s.” They booed when Soriano intentionally walked Nick Markakis to face Adam Jones (hitless in six career at-bats against Sori). The first pitch was on the outside corner but was called a ball and Joe Girardi leaned back, closed his eyes. Didn’t look like he was breathing. Soriano poured three more fastballs, right down the pike, and Jones swung through each one of them.
For the second night in a row, extra innings. Mark Teixeira hit a bloop double to left with two outs and then Nick Swisher worked the count full, got a meatball over the plate and deposited that weak sauce over the wall in right field.
I watched the end of the game last night by myself. The wife had gone to bed long before Mariano Rivera appeared. I lay on the living room floor, stretching, and appreciated the moment–another chance to watch Rivera pitch. Endy Chavez, a slap-hitting left-hander, led off and Rivera pounded him with cutters inside. Chavez was tough, fouling off pitch-after-pitch, until he was caught looking by a pitch on the outside corner. A generous call by the umpire it seemed to me, a Rivera call.
J.J. Hardy, a righty, was next, and when Rivera got ahead of him he kept the ball outside and Hardy popped up to Robinson Cano for the second out. Which left it up to Nick Markakis, who was 6-17 in his career against Rivera. He looked at a fastball on the outside part of the plate for a strike and then broke his bat on a cutter inside–the ball went foul. Rivera threw another cutter, high and inside, that Markakis didn’t offer at and he also looked at the next pitch, the outside fastball. The pitch went straight to the catcher’s mitt but it was just outside for a ball.
I was lying on my back now. My cat had curled up next to my left shoulder and I wondered what Rivera’s next move would be–back inside with the cutter or double-up on the outside pitch? He went back outside, painted the corner beautifully. The pitch was better than the one before. Markakis didn’t swing and was called out on strikes and alone in my dark living room I laughed so hard that had to cover my mouth so I wouldn’t wake the wife.
[Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images; Drawing by Moebius]