Saturday, May 5, 2012


In the interest of full disclosure: I hate the Yankees.  In fact, that hatred is so smoldering and omnipresent that I mean it in two different senses of the word "hate."  There's the general, "everyone who doesn't have Gotham roots and thinks the team, their outsized payroll, and their fans are an obnoxious (and just plain noxious for that matter) blight upon the rest of the sporting world" hate.  There's also the hyper-specific, "you beat humiliated the Braves in the 1996 and 1999 World Series and I will despise you for it for the rest of eternity" hate.  The point is, I truly, deeply loathe those pinstripe-clad abominations.  So just know that when I say this, I mean it with all sincerity:

It's a damn shame about Mo.

He said he'll be back next season.  I don't know if it's possible.  I don't know if a 42-year-old, even one as phenomenally durable as this man has been, can make the full recovery necessary to return to form after an ACL injury.  Those insidious buggers have been making the rounds recently.  First Derrick Rose, then Iman Shumpert, and now The Great Mariano.  Ligaments, as it turns out, have an agenda to ruin everyone's fun this week.

If # 42 once again dons those iconic pinstripes somewhere down the line, if he can still push off the rubber in his accustomed manner, then we can probably look forward to a few more quality seasons.  Even if his age matches his jersey number, Rivera is among the best-conditioned athletes in baseball, and I certainly wouldn't lay any timber against his return.  While the hue and cry has gone up from the uninformed about what a star closer was doing shagging fly balls during BP, it's long been a claim of Those Who Done Seen It that Mo could have been one of the best defensive center fielders of his generation if he weren't such a brilliant pitcher.  The chance to snatch baseballs out of the sky during those pregame times was, I am sure, cathartic and exhilarating for a player who might not see the field at all that night depending on the situation.  Unfortunately for Rivera, it proved a costly avocation the other night in Kansas City. 

That one man with one pitch excelled so completely for so long is a marvel.  That cutter, that inscrutable, nigh-un-hittable cutter, has been the single most dominant pitch in baseball since 1996.  We can argue all livelong day about the statistical viability of the "closer" role and how and if specific pitchers ought to be utilized in that capacity, but Mo Rivera and that pitch made about as convincing a case in the affirmative as is possible.  He was so good that when he gave up a run or even a hit, it seemed anomalous.  When your only job is to shut down your opponent's last remaining threats on a nightly basis, and you select "Enter Sandman" as your heraldry music and it works for you like a tailored suit, well, you're a freaking boss.  You simply had to love watching the dude work.  Unless it was against your team; then you were just scared s***less.

So, assorted jerks of Yankeedom, you have my condolences.  You lost a class guy this week.  I hope you get him back.  I hope he's not done.  I'd like to see that cutter in action a few more times.  Not against the Braves, mind you, but still.    

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