Blog Entry

Rivera must close All-Star Game ... right?

Posted on: July 14, 2008 10:20 pm

NEW YORK -- Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon spoke Tuesday as if he thinks he's got a chance to pitch in a save situation in the ninth inning of Tuesday night's All-Star Game, and maybe he will.

If Yankees closer Mariano Rivera suddenly disappears into thin air.

One of the best storylines here this week is the chance for Rivera to collect a save in Tuesday's All-Star Game, possibly the final big-stage event in Yankee Stadium history.

C'mon, Jonathan, do you think AL manager Terry Francona would get out of New York alive if he opted for you instead of Rivera, given the time and place?

"You're starting to scare me with that question," Papelbon quipped Monday. "Is the mob involved in this?

"There are so many different routes you can go with this. So many different scenarios. It's just not that easy. It's not. You have to understand what major-league baseball is about, what the game is about. You've got to understand how players pay their dues.

"I don't know, man."

Everything Papelbon said, including admitting that he's still in the dues-paying stage, spoke toward Rivera getting the ninth-inning nod.

Francona declined Tuesday to state his ninth inning plans on the grounds that "out of the spirit of the game, competition, having a little bit of fun, we're not going to announce the rest of our rotation yet."

To which, NL manager Clint Hurdle countered, "I'm going to stick my neck out there and say we'll prepare for (Rivera) a little bit, watch a little video."

Rivera talked Tuesday like a man planning on pitching the ninth.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I'm looking forward to doing it one more time (on a big stage in Yankee Stadium), yes."

This AL squad is deep in closers. Los Angeles' Francisco Rodriguez, who leads the league with 38 saves, is here. So are Papelbon and Baltimore's George Sherrill, tied for second at 28 saves. And Minnesota's Joe Nathan, fourth at 27; Kansas City's Joakim Soria, fifth at 25; and Rivera, sixth at 23.

"If this is one of my dues, it's one of my dues," Papelbon said. "If I was the manager and I had to make the decision, I'd be closing.

"If I said I'd get Mariano Rivera to do it, that's not the competitive nature of Jonathan Papelbon."

However, he also said he'd understand if Francona told him he was going to go with Rivera.

"I think it would be bullheaded of me and selfish of me not to understand it," he said.

Papelbon said he "honestly" doesn't think Francona has made up his mind yet, though that seems awfully difficult to believe. Francona is big on respecting the game, and it's difficult to see him electing to go with anybody but Rivera if it comes down to it.

Not in this ballpark.

It's the main reason why Nathan doesn't expect to get the ball in the ninth.

"We've got a lot of good guys who can close," Nathan said. "I think Mariano is definitely going to do it. You've got to throw him in there."

How does Nathan rate his own chances at getting the ball in the ninth inning?

"I'd say slim to none, with that guy around," he said, chuckling.


Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2008 1:33 pm

Rivera must close All-Star Game ... right?

Frankly, I think this whole debate will turn out to be meaningless. Given the number of front line NL pitchers who are unavailable to play (because of heavy stints this past weekend), I wouldn't be surprised if the AL had a 10 run lead going into the 7th inning or so. So "closing" the game will be irrelevant.

Since: Mar 10, 2008
Posted on: July 15, 2008 11:01 am

Rivera must close All-Star Game ... right?

Maybe Pappelbon can have a better outing than the last time he pitched at Yankee Stadium.

Since: Oct 19, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2008 10:30 am

Rivera must close All-Star Game ... right?

One storyline that doesn't get a ton of play is how great K-Rod is right now.  To put his career in perspective, he is about the same age right now as Mariano was when he was a middle reliever for the 96 Yankees.  He had 5 career saves at the end of that year.  K-Rod has 184.

To compare other stats - career ERA is 2.37 vs. 2.30 for Mariano.  Mariano has blown 11% of his saves, K-Rod 13.6% (but his numbers are identical to Mariano's if you exclude 2004, where he got 7 blown saves when not serving as the primary closer, so he could blow saves but not get them).

Average against is .213 for Mariano, .184 for K-Rod, OPS .569 to .558 reflecting K-Rod's increased walks.  For his career, K-Rod has 551 Ks in 425 innings, Mariano's at 907 in 995.

So, Mariano currently holds the title as "Greatest Closer Ever", but K-Rod could catch him - he's more dominating as evidenced by BAA and K/9, but to date that's mostly been offset by his increased walks allowed.

Of course Mariano's got the October resume that K-Rod hasn't had the opportunity to touch.  With K-Rod a free agent next year, we'll see if he can match it.

Since: Mar 3, 2007
Posted on: July 15, 2008 10:10 am

Rivera must close All-Star Game ... right?

spoken like a true Yankee fan. By the way I am 34. Looks like the yanks are headed to the same fate as the yanks of the 80's

Since: Apr 9, 2007
Posted on: July 15, 2008 9:40 am

Rivera must close All-Star Game ... right?

I'll bet you are not even 12 years old yet. Never mind the argument of who should close because its a non argument but can we bring some class and intelligence to the discussion ,rather than you are an idot and my team is better than your team. Its irrelevant  Kepp it intelligent

Since: Mar 3, 2007
Posted on: July 15, 2008 9:09 am

Rivera must close All-Star Game ... right?

I am dead serious!!! Since Torre took over and you guys stated spending 200 million a year on your team, only 1 team in the AL has a winning record against you.... that's right  the ANGELS. So like I said quit living in the past and realize we own the Stanks and your city. You can talk smack to the O's and KC fans but not us , beat it. You have the best clutch hitter ever and the best closer ever but you can't get out of the first round.hahahahahahahaha

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2008 9:01 am

Rivera must close All-Star Game ... right?

Does Papelbon really think the reason he isnt closing is because hes paying his dues?  Nah...its becaus he isnt the best man for the job.  When you have the best closer in history on your team durinf possibly his best season ever...then you let him close.  K-Rod would be my 2nd choice but hes more in Papelbons league that Rivera's.  Ask the players who they want to close.  Guarantee all the AL players say Mo and all the NL players say anyone but Mo...

Since: Feb 2, 2008
Posted on: July 15, 2008 8:52 am

Rivera must close All-Star Game ... right?

Are you joking? Or are you just ignorant?

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2008 8:50 am

Rivera must close All-Star Game ... right?

LOL...Dont try and compare the Angels to the Yankees.  Be happy you have a good team to cheer for and leave it at that.

Since: Mar 3, 2007
Posted on: July 15, 2008 8:21 am

Rivera must close All-Star Game ... right?

where were you in 2002 when K-ROD busted on the seen by whooping the stankees asses. come talk yo me when your sorry ass team wins a playoff series again . come talk to me when the stanks beat US in the playoffs as we are 2-0 against you bums. Our new name should be  the LOS ANGELES  ANGELS OF NEW YORK because we woop your ass every year. win something ,? we have a more recent series than you!!!!!hahaha Don't be a normal yankee fan and tell me , we have 26 championships, they have 4 in 28 years so stop living in the past and start spending 240 million every year on some f-ing pitching. Losers

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