That 39-year old Mariano Rivera will be the next John Smoltz is a matter of if, not when. By ‘the next John Smoltz,’ we mean the example of an aging superstar pitcher whose body finally begins to pitch his age. Sometimes the ‘ifs’ in MLB are hard to see coming. This ain’t one of them.
We invoke Baseball Gods and fate to explain some sports injuries. But unless you run a plastic surgery factory in Aventura, the effects of aging is a fairly mainstream scientific idea. That’s why this is the one injury — perhaps breakdown is a more exact term — which would most affect who the next world Series Champion will be and is not hard to see coming.
Soon we will appreciate the irony that the great John Smoltz’s final game happened in front a similarly great contemporary like Rivera. Don’t think Rivera wasn’t having melancholy thoughts as he watched either; ‘Is that how it will be for me? Will I have to suffer the ignominy of having a Coco Crisp doing Grand Slam curtain calls? God, maybe I should get out now? Worse, maybe that moron Girardi will call me in again to discuss my mechanics.’
So what do wealthy New York franchises do with stubborn facts about the aging process? They develop a theory of course. Let’s call it the Omar Minaya theory. Now Omar Minaya didn’t invent this theory, he is just its latest poster boy. The OM Theory defined:
1. The mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in that paying 8-figure salaries to veteran players who would be in the decline of their careers in any other era [a non-Bionic era], will keep them healthy during an entire major league baseball season: i.e., see Carlos Delgado.
2. Something believed or accepted as true, especially a particular tenet or a body of tenets accepted by a group of persons. i.e., management of New York MLB teams and their fans.
[Middle English bileve, alteration (influenced by bileven, to believe) of Old English gelafa; see leubh- in Indo-European roots.]
I’m not a gambler, but if I were, finding a Yankee fan and placing a wager that we are only weeks away from the beginning of the end of Mariano Rivera’s spectacular HOF career is almost an unfair way to make some money. The more interesting question to me is which Bionic Era major leaguer will go down next.
Now members of my own family, who inconceivably worship at the secular-Yankee alter, namely my brother Fred and Evelio [I-phone Yankee logo wallpaper, ’nuff said], will vociferously suggest that this observation is driven by a hatred of the Yankees [and a broader hatred of all NY professional sports teams]. They would not so much be wrong about my feelings as they would be limited in the understanding of why I take such pleasure in their misfortune, i.e. sports hatred.
I appreciate what the Yankees do for MLB. They and other large market teams have in effect been subsidizing smaller market teams for many years. They do not do so out of charity; you see, if there there were not economically viable MLB teams in smaller markets, there would be no NY Yankees. I just love the irony of seeing the beneficiaries of their payouts succeed where they fail. Besides, I made a promise as I sat and watched the stinking, Darwin theory-challenging and thuggish-Knick [redundant?] fans exiting the Miami Arena on May 3rd, 1998.
It may be slightly outdated, but I urge all fans to read Sports Illusion, Sports Reality by Leonard Koppett. He does an excellent job of explaining why if it weren’t for the constant drumbeat of media coverage, we wouldn’t be as interested in MLB. In other words, we are kidding ourselves if we think we follow professional or college teams based on the love of the sport.
So again, who’s next after Rivera?
Beautiful, !@#$%^&*, you now have a blog for your inferiority complex, were you a boston fan in another life?
Wishing ill will on 2 of the classiest players, not good.
On the positive side talking about the Yanks will give your blog a lot more traffic.
Definitely, not wish them ill. Just trying to be realistic about the 'ol farts. You'' always be able to tell when I'm wishing anyone ill, I'd focus on their personal wealth.
On the plus side, I'm glad you think just one blog could affect my inferiority complex. Now that's progress!
I read your blog on Mariano Rivera
from here in Northern California in
the wine country, and my first impulse was to strongly advise you to cut back on the wine-tastings,
particularly of the varietals that
are probably produced where YOU live – But then, I thought, NO!
Such bizarre psycholinguistics,
as you applied to the subject of the greatest relief pitcher of all time could only be induced by the
huffing of WAY too many paint fumes. No vino on the Planet Earth
could be responsible for such
whacko logic. Either that or you've
got the same doctor that Michael Jackson had.
I hate to pop the air out of your
Yankee-hatin' balloon, but Mo Rivera will continue to pitch at
the same magnificant level
as he has since 1995. Another
4-5 seasons, MINIMUM. Why?
Well, anyone with an I.Q. higher than that of a ripe papaya knows why. Mo has the best mechanics of
any pitcher of this whole generation. He throws one basic pitch. A cut FASTBALL. And, unfortunately for the other clubs
in baseball, he does so without twisting or contorting his throwing arm. His pitches cut 6-8″ simply because of how he grips the ball. No one can duplicate it.
Combined with his beautifully
smooth, compact delivery, his always superb conditioning, his knowledge of pitching, his desire to compete and win, and his love of the game make Mariano Rivera
the greatest candidate to pitch well into his 40's, like other
non-steriod greats, or perhaps you've never heard of Warren Spahn,
Nolan Ryan or Sachel Paige?
You could not have been more wrong,
Jorge. OMG! I can sum up your
absurd theorm in two words, my friend : WISHFUL THINKING!
And there's another two words I want to leave you with. I advise
that before you write your next blog, Jorge, take your head out of the bucket marked SHERMAN WILLIAMS.
Other than that, I enjoy your thoughts. See you at the Parade
for Yankee Championship #27 up
Lower Broadway in Manhattan, this
Audie in Healdsburg
Audie coming strong with facts [re mechanics] and post appropriate venom.
Re the type of wine that could produce incorrect analysis, I believe you might be looking for clues in all the wrong places.
My WSJ promotional 2007 Pech Notre Dame Chardonnay was no help at all in reaching the dark places needed to envision dangling rotary cuffs, but the Boones Farm MD 20-20 on the other hand …
Regards to Audie, but not aging Yankees
I'm glad you did not take offense to my suggestion
that your theories regarding Mariano Rivera's
impending demise were enamel-paint-fume-related.
You'll notice I didn't even COMMENT on your little
“Hint-Hint” that Derek Jeter's career is also nearing
fatal tail-spin. One absurdity at a time, thank you.
I get abdominal cramps when I laugh too hard.
So, what has transpired since you made such a blog entry
on these two Yankee greats? Let's see . . . this weekend . .
Mo Rivera took over the lead in saves for the '09 season
in the A.L., despite giving up his first run in a MONTH,
(which is a SURE indication he's mere weeks away from losing his
skills forever), and, Derek Jeter became baseball's all-time
hits leader for a short stop, while batting .318 THIS season,
(which coincidentally is exactly his CAREER average). Some decline.
Now, in fairness to you, I realize you were espousing beliefs about
these two ballplayer's futures, not their Hall-of-Fame credentialed
pasts. But what was your point? That skills erode as an athlete gets
past 35? Duh! Ya THINK???? No, your headline news was that these two
are mere “WEEKS” away from joining John Smoltz on the scrap heap.
And it is this absurd time-frame which had me wondering just WHO
your doctor is and why he's precribing the same kind of things to you that
got Elvis and Michael in trouble. Mo and Derek are two wonderfully conditioned athletes, who are clean-living and steroid-free, and still playing at the top of their games and THESE are the two you're designating for assignment????
It seems your bias against all things Yankees has gotten the best of your
otherwise sound judgement and fairness.
So here's the deal, Jorge.
I want you to take advantage of me by allowing me to take you up on that bet
you proposed. The Yankee season is likely to last another 8-10 weeks,
in other words, DEEP into the post-season. Is that enough time to
see if Mariano Rivera “BEGINS to break down”? Or would you like to
recant or at least re-word, at this time? “WEEKS away”? BWWWahAAAhAA!
OMG! Here come those cramps again!
Also, there are 30 or so general
managers in professional baseball.
Please name me ONE who would not LOVE to have BOTH Mo Rivera and
Derek Jeter signed to play for them
for the next 3-4 YEARS?????
Same thing goes for their team trainers or physicians. Name
ONE who would not want to have these guys on their team.
What do YOU know, Jorge, that
the rest of the sports world is
Audie in Healdsburg, CA.
OK – I'm in on this bet – If I lose I will send you the aforementioned [WSJ promotional] 2007 Pech Notre Dame Chardonnay. If you lose, the wine bottle you will send is at your discretion [I'm trusting that you will want to 'represent' CA wines with distinction].
Now to define the parameters of the bet – if Mariano misses any 'significant' time between now and the end of the season, which includes post-season.
Significant defined – time on the DL during the regular season or missing any time in the post-season.
As to having Rivera [we'll ignore Jeter for now, do you really want to sacrifice your defense that much longer?] for the next 4 years – I'll be generous and assume you were just pumped up over the bet.
It's the Carlos Delgado syndrome – only certain teams can afford to overpay players past their prime and then just walk away with no regrets when the inevitable injury happens. So I'll turn the question around which 'normal' team – i.e. team that actually worries about their salaries – do you think would realistically sign Rivera for top dollars for his 40 through 43 years of age seasons?
In terms of top relievers, only Eckersley ever had success into his 40's – with a good [not great] seasons at the age of 41 & 42.
See this link
When you start counting on things which have never happened, you know you cant drink and post.
Jorge, I accept your bet.
OMG! This is the easiest bottle of wine I will have ever
won in my life! I accept the terms of the bet as well.
But the irony of this whole exchange is, that in the end,
your blog-title “Will Mariano Rivera Be The Next John Smoltz?”
might actually be CORRECT! But of course, not for the reason
you THOUGHT! John Smoltz struck out 9 batters in five innings the
other day for his new team, the Cardinals, including 7-in-a-row.
Just because he had a bad game against the mighty Yanks, was no reason
for the idiotic Red Sox brass to bail on Smoltz, who was throwing 94MPH,
and had good sharp movement on his breaking pitches. Coming off
shoulder surgery, he was still too inflexible to come up over the top,
and was throwing too side arm. I predict that Smoltz will pitch at the major league level for another 2-3 seasons, as he gets back to normal, particularly
since he's now back in the weak National League and pitching against teams like the Florida Marlins.
SO, your call that Mariano will be the next Smoltz, (will pitch successfully
into his 40's) is probably the only thing you wrote that made any sense,
albeit, by accident. Hey, even a blind hog occasionally roots out a truffle.
Now about Derek Jeter: OH? You'd rather not discuss what he has done
this season? He's been batting at a .500 clip on the recently concluded
10 game road trip, bringing his average up to .332 for the season. Plus
he's made only 4 stinking errors the whole year! He is now right up there
for MVP consideration, (again!). Here's what Paul O'Neill said recently:
“You kind of come into this year thinking, 'Don't let this be the one when Derek starts to slip.' And what you get instead is a year like this, when he's this kind of leader and this kind of player on the best team in baseball. So you didn't want this to be the year when he started going the other way, and now it turns into one of the great years the guy's ever had.”
I'll leave it a that.
P.S. How did you know I love Chardonnay?
In no particular order
– I want to officially close the door on anyone else accepting my Yankee bet
– I can't believe Smoltz is pitching so well – for that matter, Pedro Martinez, Paul Byrd & Brad Penny – what's going on there
– and yet today I read something about a left groin … c'mon, aren't you just a little nervous?
I have to admit, I chuckled when
I heard of Mariano's possible “career-ending” minor groin strain.
and thought, Jorge must be hyper-ventilating at the thought of
winning a bottle of REAL wine.
But it's not going to happen,
Mr. Costales. Fate is merely
taunting you. Let's put it this way, Jorge: If we were playing
Backgammon I'd be whipping out the
“doubling cube” on you right now,
since Mo Rivera's injury is leading you to believe that you have a snowball's chance in Hell
of winning your ill-advised wager
with a sports genius Yankee fan such as me.
In fact, I am so sure of the outcome, I have already made arrangements for a pick-up of the wine you will be owing me. My
agent in Florida is a fellow named
Evelio who will be contacting you soon. What you SHOULD be worried about is Hanley Ramirez' possible
season ending, career-threatening
minor hamstring pull. He's headed for the DL, not old war horses
like Mo & Derek. And, here's to Smoltzie and Pedro. Certain
HOF'ers who will prove there is life after 30 on the Field of Dreams.