Tagged: Mariano Rivera

What will David Robertson do with his qualifying offer?

David Robertson will be smiling all the way to the bank this offseason

Whether he accepts his qualifying offer or not, David Robertson will be smiling all the way to the bank this offseason

This time last year we were all asking ourselves – Is David Robertson capable of taking over for Mariano Rivera? The answer was a resounding yes. Now it’s time for Robertson to cash in on his success.

What amazed me most was just how quietly Robertson accomplished this feat. There is no team in all of professional sports that puts more pressure on their players than the New York Yankees. Yet Robertson didn’t falter when it was his turn to step into the spotlight and put together a successful first season in the closer role.

Robertson earned 39 saves with a 3.08 era in 2014. His walk ratio, which is something that had been a problem earlier in his career, saw a slight rise but has been mostly stable for the past three years now. He also saw a rise in his strikeout ratio, 13.4 per nine innings, a very solid number that you look for in closers.

Earlier this week was the deadline for teams to make their qualifying offers to pending free agents. It was questionable as to what the Yankees were going to do with Robertson. Despite his strong season, the Yankees do have a young Dellin Betances to fall back on. The rookie right-hander took the league by storm and has the makings of becoming a closer one day. But the Yankees decided to make Robertson that 1-year $15.3 million qualifying offer, meaning they might not be ready just yet to thrust Betances into that role. Continue reading

2 Good 2 Be True

My friends and I (White hat) at last nights game

My friends and I (White hat) at last nights game

Last night was one of the more surreal moments I have ever experienced at a sporting event, maybe in my life. When I first got my hands on four tickets for Derek Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium, my initial instinct was “I’m going to make a fortune off these.”  Although that may have very well been the case, I couldn’t be happier that I bypassed the financial reward and decided to attend the game with three of my closest friends.

From the moment we stepped foot into the stadium the “Der-ek Jet-er” chants had begun; it didn’t take long to realize just how electric this crowd would be all night long. A good portion of Yankee games sellout throughout the season, but you know it’s a special game when everyone is in their seats a half hour before first pitch.

Jeter was given a standing ovation before the game even started when he accepted a donation on behalf of the Yankees to his charity. Then another when he took the field to warmup. Then another after a scoreboard message played a thank you tribute. Then another when his farewell Gatorade commercial aired. Then another when he took his position on the field. Then another when his farewell Nike commercial aired. Then another when he came out onto the on-deck circle. Then another when he finally stepped into the batter’s box. If you didn’t get the hint by now, there was very little sitting at this game.

It became apparent rather quickly that Jeter would once again relish in the moment. In his first at-bat, he roped a deep line drive to left center field, missing a home run by a mere few feet. That left many of us wondering if that would be the highlight of his final game. Jeter hasn’t exactly torn the cover off the baseball this season, would that be his final hit at the stadium?

After the first inning, the game went into cruise control through the seventh. The most entertainment came from the Jumbotron. In between innings former players and coaches would share with their favorite Jeter moments. It was truly remarkable that one man could be in the middle of so many memorable moments in this storied franchise’s history. I applauded for each and every one of these, except for one. When the 2000 World Series highlight reel began, when the Yankees beat my beloved Mets and Jeter was named series MVP, it reminded me of the love/hate relationship I’ve had with Jeter for all these years.

Hate is a strong word, but there were plenty of times when I truly felt hatred towards Jeter. I’m 27-years-old, meaning my baseball memories pretty much started alongside Jeter’s career. In that time, I have seen the Mets make the playoffs all of three times, compared to the Yankees 17. The Mets have become known for public relation blunders, lack of accountability and most notably, heartbreak. Jeter, on the other hand, has stood for the polar opposite.

The man has never made slipped up in the public eye before. Even when a story broke of Jeter giving one night stands a parting gift basketball it was somehow spun in a positive light for the coveted bachelor. It’s hard to walk five feet in Yankee Stadium without seeing a “Yeah Jeets!” shirt or a fan shouting the term of endearment. When it came to accountability? Fuhgeddaboudit. Despite being second only to Bill Belichick in giving the most vanilla interviews, he always stands pact at his locker accepting both the praise and blame following each and every game. You will never hear him throw blame elsewhere; all of it falls on the Captain’s shoulders.

When it comes to heartbreak, Jeter has given the fans very little. He has been a part of 13 division titles, seven American League Championships and won five World Series titles. Sure this is a team sport, and he isn’t solely responsible for those accomplishments, but he played a damn big part in each and every one of them.

Needless to say, my feelings towards him have walked a fine line between hate and envy. I digress, back to last night…

Jeter stepped up with the stage set for a big moment in the seventh. With the bases loaded and the game tied the crowd was, you guessed it, on their feet. Although Jeter didn’t come through with a hit, he did put the ball in play forcing an error on a fielder’s choice, allowing the Yankees to take the lead. This might not have felt like a significant play, but I felt summed up a big portion of Jeter’s career that you won’t find on any stat sheet. He was involved in a game-changing moment. Sure it wasn’t a home run or bases clearing double, but he made something happen on a measly weak ground ball that could prove to be the game-winner. Typical Jeter.

When David Robertson took the mound in the ninth to close out the game, the crowd was more than happy for it to end this way. My friends and I might have been the only four people in the stadium rooting for the Orioles to tie it up. Jeter was due up third in the bottom of the ninth, who wouldn’t want to see him bat one more time? After Robertson surrendered the first home run, we cheered, when he gave up the game-tying home run….we really cheered. At this point, we HAD to be the only non-Oriole fans high-fiving each other. The guys behind us were not amused. One friend quickly stated his bottom of the ninth prediction:

“Single, bunt him over to second, Jeter single to win it.”

We kind of laughed this statement off and gave each other the “imagine?” look in response. Even Jeter can’t be that lucky to have it end like that.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, Jose Pirela started the inning off with a single. Alright, now we’re looking at each other like we might be onto something. Gardner steps up and lays down a perfect sacrifice bunt. At this point, I think the whole crowd was in a state of disbelief that Jeter would be coming to the plate in this situation. It just seemed too good to be true. In true Jeter fashion, he lined a single into right field and drove in Pirela for the winning run.

I mean, wow. Words cannot even begin to describe the emotion running through the stadium at that very moment. The same guys that we aggravated an inning earlier by our blown save celebration were now shaking my buddies in disbelief for predicting this exact scenario.

Jeter was mobbed by teammates and the Yankees used their flair for the dramatics – revealing the presence of Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez and Mariano Rivera on the Jumbotron, one-by-one, as they waited to greet Jeter. I would say the crowd gave Jeter one last standing ovation, but the truth is I don’t think the fans ever stopped standing or applauding from the moment they arrived.

This went on well after the on-field celebration ended as No. 2 faded away into the dugout, forever.

It was truly a fairytale ending for Jeter, something straight out of Hollywood. You would’ve sworn this game was scripted the way it all unfolded. Jeter might have been the luckiest man on the face of the earth last night, but my friends and I were a close second.

 

Love Him or Hate Him, You Must ‘Re2pect’ Derek Jeter

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Derek Jeter will be tipping his cap one last time at an all-star game tonight

Much like highly anticipated Super Bowl ads are leaked days in advance now, Nike released their Derek Jeter tribute commercial a day before it’s due to air. The video has quickly gone viral, taking over our social media news feeds, and rightly so.

A star-studded list of celebrities and athletes make cameo’s as they tip their caps, a gesture of respect in baseball circles, to the longtime Yankee captain before he steps in for an at-bat. Spike Lee, Billy Crystal, Joe Torre, Carmelo Anthony, Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan are just some of those featured.

Jeter, will start in his 14th, and final, All-Star game tonight. Much like former teammate Mariano Rivera last year, this will undoubtedly become the Jeter show. Dugouts will clear, fans will rise to their feet and broadcasters will go numb as baseball fans across the country show their gratitude for everything he has given to the game. It isn’t just his Hall of Fame credentials, but Jeters’ character that has him among the most respected players of his generation.

Watch the very well done ad below:

Top 5 Subway Series Moments

With the 2014 Subway Series getting underway tonight, it had me thinking back on all the great moments over the years. Although the series has lost some of its lust in recent years, it’s always fun when the Mets and Yankees meet.

These are my top 5 Subway Series moments (2000 World Series excluded):

5) “Mr. Koo” steals the show – May 21, 2005 Mets 7 Yankees 1 Shea Stadium

Dae-Sung Koo, better known as “Mr. Koo” to Mets fans, provided one of the more entertaining moments in Subway Series history. The left-handed reliever pitched the seventh inning with the Mets leading 2-0. In the bottom half of the inning, manager Bobby Valentine decided to let Koo hit. In his only other career at bat, Koo went down looking at three straight pitches.

This time he was due to face Randy Johnson, arguably the most intimidating left-handed pitcher in history. Koo, then shocked the city. He connected and took a ball deep to center field for a stand up double, but that was only the beginning. Jose Reyes then bunted for a single and Koo hustled to score all the way from second base with a nifty slide at the plate. This brought about plenty of smiles and laughter from the Mets bench and fans alike.

My favorite part of that story is when it was later revealed that the jacket he wore on the bases still had weighted baseball in it. That would be the last at bat of his short-lived career.

4) First ever Subway Series game – June 16, 1997 Mets 6 Yankees 0 Yankee Stadium

When inter league play was first introduced, there were mixed emotion across baseball. Purist opposed the idea, wanting to keep the World Series as the only time teams from opposite leagues would meet. But I think most of those opinions were changed when the games were wildly popular and well received among fans.

There was a buzz in the city as the Mets visited Yankee stadium for the very first match up. Journeyman starter Dave Mlicki was on the mound and made it a one man show. Mlicki threw a complete game shutout, as the Mets won the first ever subway series game in dominant fashion behind Mlicki’s curveball.

(Video is only footage of the last out of the game, Mlicki striking out Derek Jeter with his signature curveball)

3) Matt Franco beats Mariano Rivera – July 10, 1999 Mets 9 Yankees 8 Shea Stadium

In 1999, the Yankees were right in the middle of their dynasty reign. Mariano Rivera had now established himself as the best closer in the game and seemed to never blow a save. While the Mets were just starting to come together, as this scrappy bunch was on their way to making the franchise relevant once again.

With the Mets trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth, it appeared the game was over as Mr. Sandman came on close things out. But the Mets put a rally together and loaded the bases for pinch-hitter Matt Franco. He was able to put a line drive into right field scoring Ricky Henderson and Edgardo Alfonso to win the game in walk-off fashion. Although the Mets would go on to win a few games against Rivera over the years, this was the first and by far the most memorable.

This is my personal favorite Subway Series moment. I remember watching that game and feeling a mixture of shock and enjoyment that the Mets were able to beat the great Mariano Rivera.

2) Luis Castillo drops the ball – June 12, 2009 Yankees 9 Mets 8 Yankee Stadium

Ah yes, the Luis Castillo dropped fly ball. It was one of those games that everyone seems to remember what they were doing and where they watched this memorable blunder. With 2 outs in the 9th inning, closer Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) got Alex Rodriguez to pop up for what looked to be the final out of the game. In what could only happen to the Mets, Castillo began to look nervous as he circled underneath the ball and inevitably dropped it. With the runners hustling, the Yankees were able to not only tie, but win the game.

This play will live forever in the blooper reels.

1) Roger Clemens beams Mike Piazza – July 8, 2000 Yankees 4 Mets 2 Yankee Stadium

I’ve been to quite a few Subway Series games in my time, there have probably been only a handful of years where I didn’t attend at least one game, but this was by far the most memorable one. What people tend to forget was the sheer dominance that Mike Piazza had against Roger Clemens, going 7-12 with two home runs leading up to this game. Simply put, Piazza owned “The Rocket”.

Clemens, was notorious throughout his career for being a head hunter. He never hesitated to brush a batter off the plate and putting one right underneath their chin when he desired. In this case he took it too far, Clemens struck Piazza right on the bill of his helmet that left Piazza in a dazed and confused state around home plate.

Yankee stadium was full of commotion the moment Piazza went down. Conflicting chants, arguments and fights broke out. It was probably the only time I felt like I was at something other than a baseball game, hard to explain just what it was like to be in the crowd that night.

Might not be for the best of reasons, but nonetheless, this is certainly the most memorable moment from the Subway Series.

Of course this wasn’t the last moment between these two, but we’ll leave that story for another day.

Uh-Oh, David Robertson is heading to the DL

David Robertson is heading to the DL

David Robertson is heading to the DL

Shortly after the Yankees 4-2 home opener win against the Orioles, Manager Joe Girardi put a damper on the day. Closer David Robertson has been placed on the 15-day Disabled List with a groin strain.

Robertson is in the midst of his first year as the Yankees closer, after replacing the great Mariano Rivera. He had been off to a strong start, throwing 3 scoreless innings while recording his first two save opportunities. The Yankees bullpen was already full of inexperienced late inning arms, which now leaves the closer role in a bit of turmoil. Continue reading

The Derek Jeter Farewell Tour Begins Tonight

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Jeter will be tipping his cap all across the country this season

The Derek Jeter farewell tour begins tonight in Houston, as the Yankees take on the Astros. This will be the captains final opening day of his career and the first of many special events he will partake in this season. Continue reading

David Robertson is ready to embrace the challenge of replacing a legend

The Yankees hope to make a smooth transition with their closer

The Yankees hope to make a smooth transition with their closer role

David Robertson may be under more pressure than any other Yankee in 2014. On any other team the focus would be on the new additions that have cost the Yankees roughly half a billion dollars, but none of them are coming in to replace Mariano Rivera. That challenge will be given to Robertson, the question that lingers, is he up for it?

Nobody wants to be the guy to replace a legend, they all want to be the guy who replaces that guy, when the pressure has been turned down a notch. Robertson has been groomed for this transition for the last few years. The speculation that he may one day become a closer started in 2011, when he posted a 1.08 era and struck out 100 in only 66.2 innings pitched, while serving as the primary set-up man to Rivera.

Although his 2011 season was for the most part spectacular, there was one area where he struggled. Robertson struggled to attack the strike zone at times and walked 35 batters. That is an unacceptable amount, you simply cannot be putting yourself in those sort of situations and expect to routinely get out of them. He has improved drastically the past two seasons, walking 19 in 2012 and 18 in 2013, giving the Yankees hope that those issues are behind him. Getting those last 3 outs are hard enough, a closer can’t be handing out base runners consistently with the game on the line. Besides that, it is difficult to find any other fault in his resume.

All that remains now are the aggravating arguments and debates on whether a pitcher has “the closer mentality” or “is he ready to be the closer?” – How are we supposed to know the answer to these questions until you actually give someone the job? One thing you have to keep in mind is that Robertson is 28-years-old and will turn 29 right around opening day. This will be his seventh season in the majors, he knows what it takes to pitch at the highest level and has been in plenty of high pressure situations. The great Mariano Rivera served as a set-up man for 1 season before taking over the closer role, that’s right, 1 season! The only reason they were able to uncover his full potential was because the Yankees gave him that opportunity.

Think Joe DiMaggio to Mickey Mantle, Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers or David Robinson to Tim Duncan, those are the transitions the Yankees hope to follow. Will Mariano Rivera to David Robertson be put into that same conversation? Maybe, maybe not, only time will tell. Replacing a legend is no easy task, but Robertson appears up to the challenge. He might not be Mariano Rivera, but will anyone?

Twins Give Rivera His Best Farewell Gift Yet

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With each road trip this season teams have been presenting Mariano Rivera farewell presents, out of respect for the future Hall of Famer. I think these are nice gestures and all but I feel they aren’t completely necessary.

Unless the retiring great played for your team at one time, I don’t find it mandatory that you honor him with gifts during pre game ceremonies. I always felt a nice video tribute on the stadiums jumbotron is a more than suitable farewell, with the crowd giving him one last cheer before the game begins. With that being said, I loved the present that Twins gave Rivera last night.

Rivera was presented with a rocking chair made from shattered bats. This was a very original twist on an otherwise generic gift that is often given to retiring players. Rivera has made a career out of shattering bats with his famous cutter. The chair has two Twins logos on it with the phrase “Chair Of Broken Dreams” engraved across the back.

Hats off to whoever in the Twins organization came up with this gift. It’s nice to see some creativity put into these for once. I’m looking forward to seeing how the long time rival Red Sox honor Rivera when he Yankees make their final trip to Fenway.

The Mets Need To Build On This Momentum

The Empire State building was lit blue and orange last night in honor of the Mets win in game 1 of the Subway Series

The Empire State building was lit blue and orange last night in honor of the Mets win in game 1 of the Subway Series

The Mets, and their fan base, are flying high this week after completing the subway sweep. This really couldn’t have come at a better time for this team. There was little, to no excitement, surrounding the Mets and as it was quickly becoming another forgotten season.

It’s amazing how fast things changed for this team in just a week. It started with a late inning win against the Braves on Sunday leading into the subway series. Led by the late inning heroics of Daniel Murphy and David Wright, The Mets went on to win back-to-back dramatic games at Citi Field. You could just see the excitement and energy those two displayed after each key moment that made you realize just how much these games against the Yankees truly mean to both the players and fans alike.

There may be no greater moment in the Mets 2013 season than that walk off win on Tuesday night against Mariano Rivera. For years, Mets fans have suffered through the likes of Armando Benetiz, Braden Looper, Billy Wagner and K-Rod closing out games, breaking our hearts when it mattered the most. All the while, we have watched Rivera become the greatest closer of all-time, helping the Yankees win champion after championship. I would say Mets fans are more envious of the Yankees having Rivera than anything else. We would have loved nothing more than to have him on our team, but the next best thing was beating him in what would be his final game against the Mets.

The Mets went on to silence Yankee stadium in both games as they completed the season sweep of the Yankees. They did it in dominating fashion as the Yankees never posed any real threat in either game. You could just sense the vibe surrounding this team changing as the week went on. The team looks much looser and the fan base has come back to life as winning solves all problems.

The Mets need to build on this 5-game winning streak and do it now. This is no time for a let down with 6 of their next 9 games coming against the last place Marlins. Now is the time for the Mets to continue to work their way back to .500 and keep themselves relevant. I don’t know if this team will ever return to the .500 mark this year, but for one week at least, the Mets are the Kings of NY.

The Wilpons Can’t Do Anything Right

Rivera holding up his farewell gifts from the NYFD Chief and Mets owner Jeff Wilson

Rivera holding up his farewell gifts from the NYFD commissioner and Mets COO Jeff Wilpon

Before last night’s game against the Yankees, the Mets honored future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera will some farewell gifts. Mets COO Jeff Wilpon along with NYFD Commissioner Sal Cassano presented Rivera with Fire Department Call Box and Fire Hose, both of which were mounted onto plaques.

First off, I’m completely fine with gifts and tribute video’s for players of his caliber, Rivera is an all-time great and a prime example of what every ball player should strive to be in their careers.  Now, I’m not exactly sure what other teams have been giving Rivera on this farewell tour, but those I’m sure those plaques didn’t exactly impress him. Those are items that will surely be placed up in his attic somewhere, if they even make it into his home at all.

Just last year we said goodbye to long time nemesis Chipper Jones. I felt what the Mets gave him was very fitting. It was a painting of Shea Stadium decked out in Mets artwork with Chippers face planted on the scoreboard, as it would be any time he was due up against us. I thought that was a nice memento for a long time opponent, something representing the Mets while reinforcing the idea of him being a long time opponent, which is the way it should be.

The gifts were one thing, but was it really necessary to have him throw out the first pitch? I found that to be a bit embarrassing. Rivera is a Yankee, not a Met. Honoring him was completely fine but there was no need to have a cross town rival for all of these years celebrated to that caliber in our own ball park. Rivera is not even retired yet, he is still on the Yankees and is an opponent in the game! Maybe I’m just old fashion and don’t like the fraternizing in today’s game but we don’t need to have a feeling of friendship with another current player who has never played for this franchise during the first pitch ceremony.

What bothered me the most before yesterday’s game wasn’t even the first pitch, it was Jeff Wilpon’s comments regarding this being the final time the Mets will be facing Mariano in Queens:

“I wish we could play you in the World Series, but I don’t think that’s going to happen”

Look, we all know the Mets season isn’t going anywhere, we understand where this team is currently at. But that doesn’t mean that we need our owner, who isn’t exactly in good graces with the fan base as is, declaring in May that our season is already over. It’s the little things like this that add fuel to the fire towards the Wilpon’s and could easily be avoided by the change of just a word or two.

Ownership just doesn’t seem to get it. Maybe Jay Horowitz should start holding up cue cards before the Wilpon’s speak from now on.

Mariano Rivera Throws The First and Last Pitch In Game 2 Of The Subway Series

Rivera's farewell in Queens didn't go according to plan

Rivera’s farewell in Queens didn’t go according to plan

Last night we got treated to yet another classic Subway Series game. In a day that started with the Mets honoring Mariano Rivera with farewell presents and had him throw out the ceremonial first pitch, it was only fitting the game would end with him back on the mound. Unfortunately for Rivera, he wasn’t smiling after his final pitch as the Mets won 2-1 in walk off fashion off of the future Hall of Famer.

There was a lot of hype surrounding Matt Harvey in his first start against the Yankees and he didn’t disappoint. The only problem was Hiroki Kuroda matched him and then some every step of the way. Very similar to last night games, there was no scoring through the first 5 innings as both starters were in complete control all night.

After both offenses looked very anemic early on, the scoring finally got going in the fifth inning. Brett Gardner led the inning off with a single to right which Marlon Byrd had a hard time handling allowing him to advance to second base. Robinson Cano followed that up with a ground ball to Ike Davis at first advancing Gardner to third. It appeared Matt Harvey was going to get out of the jam after he got Vernon Wells to pop up in the infield and Lyle Overbay due up. Then Harvey made his only mistake of the game, he hung a change-up to Overbay which he lined up the middle to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.  Harvey did settle in to throw two more strong innings as he finished the day with 8 innings pitched allowing one run while striking out 10 in what was another outstanding outing.

Kuroda was terrific last night. He was flying under the radar heading into last nights game with all of the attention going Harvey’s way. Kuroda had the Mets offense off-balance all night as he threw 7 innings allowing 0 runs while striking out seven himself. Brett Gardner once again made the defensive play off the game while robbing Daniel Murphy for the second straight night. In eerily similar fashion, Gardner chased down a deep shot to left center up against the wall to steal an extra base hit from Murphy and probably save a run with Ruben Tejada on first base. Besides this sole threat, Kuroda had an easy time with the Mets line up all night.

Mariano Rivera entered the game in the 9th inning and it was a safe assumption that he was going to close out his final game in Queens after starting the year 19-19 in save opportunities. The Mets quickly fought back as Daniel Murphy started off the inning with a double down the left field line to get things started. David Wright following that by lining a ball into Left Center, that nearly hit Murphy, to tie the game up and he advanced to second  as the throw to home got away. Just like that in only two batters the Mets handed Rivera his first blown save of the year. Lucas Duda came up next and single into right center to score Wright and just like that in just 9 pitches the Mets won in walk-off fashion.

This was yet another great Subway Series game. I personally prefer these pitcher’s duel games,  it adds to the dramatics as any one pitch or mistake can be the difference, which is what has happened these first two games. The final two games in Yankee Stadium don’t have anywhere near as good pitching  match ups so I wont be surprised to see the offenses come to life a bit.

This Could The End Of The Road For Joba Chamberlain And Phil Hughes With The Yankees

This could be the last season we see Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes on the Yankees

This could be the last season we see Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes on the Yankees

Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes were primed to be the future of the Yankees pitching staff when they both arrived on the scene in 2007. They were both highly touted prospects, Joba was to become the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera and Hughes was prompted “The next Roger Clemens.” Since then it has been a bumpy road for these two and now in there final year before free agency, their time with the Yankees could be coming to a close.

Hughes came onto the scene as a starter, but may of had his greatest success with the Yankees in 2009 serving as Mariano Rivera’s set-up man in route to winning the teams most recent championship. I realize how much harder it is to come across starting pitching rather than relief pitchers, but I was surprised the thought wasn’t tossed around more about leaving him in the pen. He was very effective and a key member along the way during that run.

Since becoming a starter he has had some success, in 2010 he posted a record of 18-8 with a 4.19 era while making an all-star appearance. It has been mixed results for Hughes since then. He spent a good portion of 2011 on the DL and while he won 16 games in 2012, he has yet to emerge as a top-tier starting pitcher. This season he has struggled out of the gate and in his last start most he was unable to get out of the first inning. While I see no problem with having Hughes as part of a deep rotation, where you can slot him into a middle-back end spot, I don’t believe the Yankees will be bringing him back. With the high price starting pitching commands on the free agent market, someone will surely over pay for his services. He will mean more to a team other than the Yankees in hopes that he lives up to his potential.

Joba getting sprayed during the infamous "Bug Game"

Joba getting sprayed during the infamous “Bug Game”

I’m not sure there is a player in recent history who has made more headlines for accomplishing so little in his career as Joba Chamberlain. From the way he took the league by storm with his impressive finish to the 2007 season,  “The Bug Game” in the 2007 ALDS, “The Joba Rules”, his DUI, his trampoline accident and most recently, his confrontation with Mariano Rivera. Boy he  has really left his mark with this franchise.

Joba was a phenom when he first hit the scene in 2007. When he was called up  and placed in the bullpen to help the Yankees during a postseason run he posted a 0.38 era in 19 appearances. It was all down hill from there. For the next two years the Yankees implemented “The Joba Rules” toying with his pitch and innings count in an effort to convert him into a starting pitcher. This was never successful and was down right comical at times. In 2010, he was finally placed back in the pen full time where he was unable to return to his old form. The last two seasons he has spent most of his time on the disabled list and is doing so again early this year. It has been quite a rocky road for the reliever and his tenure with the Yankees appears to be coming to a close. The Yankees have no real use for him anymore and he provides a distraction more than anything else at this point in his career.

I wouldn’t call them complete flops, especially Hughes, who has had success in his career and is still producing, but neither has quite lived up to the hype that once surrounded them.

Joba being Joba

All smiles from Rivera and Joba

All smiles from Rivera and Joba

Joba Chamberlain has once again embarrassed himself. His latest mistake? Confronting the immortal Mariano Rivera in front of reporters.

Before Saturday’s game, Rivera was conducting an interview with reporters in the dug out when an “incident” of sorts broke out. Chamberlain, was speaking loudly on the other end of the dug out while talking to some family who were sitting in the stands. Rivera  then called over and said “Joba, Suave” (which I’m told means quiet in Spanish) along with a hand gesture to keep it down. When the interview was over Chamberlain confronted Rivera in front of the media and remarked “Don’t ever shush me again”, at first he thought he was joking and laughed at his comment before Chamberlain reiterated “I’m serious, don’t ever shush me”

Look, I’m sure things like this happen all the time, after all it is impossible to think every single person is going to get along with one another every day for an entire season. This has already become a bigger story than it ever needed to be. The one thing I take away from this is that Joba just doesn’t get it. There is still a bit of immaturity in him that he would do this in front of the media and confront of all people, Mariano Rivera.

The soft-spoken Rivera said all the right things to the media today, ensuring the two made amends.

“He’s a good kid, man. He’s a good kid” said Rivera, “Sometimes we all say things that we don’t mean to say. It’s the way it is, and I keep it like that. That doesn’t make me angry because something like that happened. I’m the oldest here. I have to be the brother that has to keep the cool. It’s good. We’re all good. It’s nothing. We’ll move on.”

Chamberlain, on the other hand, well this is what he had to say the next day:

“I wouldn’t change it, I wouldn’t change anything I do in life” 

In my opinion, that’s all you need to know about Joba. On one hand, you have a class act in Mariano Rivera who took the high road and even praised Chamberlain, while Joba just continued to be Joba.

Enjoy Mariano Rivera While You Still Can

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Let’s enjoy Mariano Rivera while we still can

Every single year people ask the question, will this be the year Mariano Rivera begins to falter? And every single year he defies the logic that baseball players, especially closer’s, will diminish with age. The 43-year-old has returned after missing the majority of the 2012 season and hasn’t lost a beat. He has gone 9-for-9 in save opportunities this season with a 1.80 era. Even in his 18th season, it appears Rivera will still be retiring while he’s on top.

Closer’s have always been one of the most unpredictable positions in baseball. Their careers have notoriously gone up and down,  having an all-star caliber season, followed by a dreadful one. Some will even see multiple years in a row of success before faltering, but none have come even remotely close to putting a career together like Rivera. With the inability of so many to consistently close games out, especially on the biggest stages, Rivera has always been the great equalizer for the Yankees, giving them the edge in the bullpen in any game they play. He seems to be the rare exception as he just continues to build on his career that will one day land him in Cooperstown.

His opponents may very well be celebrating the idea of not facing Rivera in the near future. They will no longer will they have to deal with shattered bats,wondering, how this man has continued to get them out all while throwing mostly one pitch, the cutter. Although teams may be happy to see him go, he has garnered a great deal of respect around the league. You will never hear a bad word uttered about Rivera as he has played the game the right way all these years and been a role model for so many. Each road trip the Yankees go on this season teams will show their appreciation for the future Hall-of-Famer, plaques  presents and tribute videos will be presented to honor him the last team he plays in each city.  There is no greater form of respect than when your opponents, the same ones that you have dominated for years, take time to honor you in your final days.

Now I might be a bit old fashion, but I for one am not fond of how today’s game has become all about match-ups and pitch counts. We have starter’s who barely make it out of the fifth inning. If they make it through six innings allowing three runs? We mark that down as a quality start. But I’ll save that for another discussion. Then we get to the bullpen, no longer do we have closer’s who give you two or three innings to close out a game. Now we are lucky if we even allow a reliever to finish an inning. Too often do we see managers go through almost an entire bullpen in a nine inning game as they focus too much on lefty/righty match-ups.

I’m not trying to diminish what Mariano has accomplished in his career, it is what it is, the game is constantly evolving for better or for worse. The one thing I do know, despite how the game has changed, Mariano Rivera is far and away the best reliever to come out of this era and maybe ever. Soon enough Yankee fans will know the agony the rest of us feel, all to often, watching your closer with one eye open, praying they are able to hold on to that late inning lead. Unless he is closing out a game against your team, let’s enjoy his greatness while we still can.