Jul 17

Mariano Rivera’s Light Burns Bright In All-Star Game

For the New York Mets it might have been “Matt Harvey Day,’’ but Mariano Rivera stole the night. It isn’t often you can orchestrate things in Major League Baseball, but that’s what happened. While no player is bigger than the game, there are some who define it by their presence and their greatness transcends the moment.

There was Ted Williams in 1999, surrounded by both teams in the Fenway Park infield. The Team of the Century Game, you might recall. They didn’t even need the game, they would have cheered Williams all night.

RIVERA: Stands alone.

RIVERA: Stands alone.

It was that way when Cal Ripken’s streak was broken and Joe Torre’s Yankees stood at the top step of their Camden Yards dugout in a long ovation. And, how about Ripken’s last All-Star Game, when he homered in Seattle?

Great theatre and it was such when Rivera ran out for the eighth inning and took his bows with nobody else on the diamond. That was symbolic as there is nobody like Rivera. For nearly two minutes they cheered the greatest closer in history. It didn’t matter he was a Yankee; all of baseball honored him.

“I didn’t know how to act,’’ Rivera said. “At that moment, I didn’t know what to do. It almost made me cry. It was close. It was amazing. I will never forget that.’’

As he often has, Rivera set the side down in order 1-2-3, and as he jogged off the field, Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder – whose father, Cecil, won a World Series ring with Rivera – pressed the ball in the modest closer’s glove.

Justin Verlander greeted Rivera first after the eighth with a long embrace. I couldn’t help but wonder if Verlander whispered in his ear, “I wish you had been on my team all these years.’’

Then again, there’s probably not a starter in the game who hasn’t wondered the same.

American League manager Jim Leyland is as old school as they come, but did a marvelous job planning the moment. Ideally, it should have been the ninth inning, but if the National League had taken the lead Rivera wouldn’t have gotten in the game.

“I wanted to make sure I got out of here alive,’’ Leyland said.

It was interesting to see Rivera’s peers – the opponents he has tormented over the years – respond to him. The Orioles Chris Davis could be seen shooting a video of Rivera on his cell phone. David Wright would tell Rivera how proud he was of how he handled himself.

“Things like that, that come from young boys like that, it is good,’’ Rivera said. “They know why you do it. That’s great.’’

While others had a bigger role in the game’s outcome, Rivera was voted the Most Valuable Player in a gesture of appreciation and respect.

With Rivera working the eighth, it was Joe Nathan who pitched the ninth to earn his first All-Star save. The ball will never make Nathan’s mantle as he gave it to Rivera.

“It showed respect to me,’’ Rivera would say. “It was a classy thing to do.’’

Classy and respect. That’s what Rivera has always been about.

NOTE: Please accept my apologies for the erratic posting lately. My server has been down and it was unavoidable. Hopefully, the problem has been resolved.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Mar 14

Wright update; Mets lose again.

First it was going to be a game or two, then at the end of this week, then next week and now David Wright hopes to be ready by Opening Day. Knowing these are the Mets, why didn’t they just throw Opening Day out there from the outset.

Why did it take them so long to send him to New York for this latest diagnosis of an abdominal tear? Why does this stuff always seem to happen with the Mets? Wright is easily the Mets’ most valuable commodity, so why do they treat this with such ambivalence?

I’m glad to see Wright playing this smart and taking his time, but wonder why the Mets were slow on the MRI.

***

The NBA trade deadline is tomorrow and everybody is wondering what will become of Dwight Howard. Reminds me of Jose Reyes when we all knew he wasn’t coming back. Would have hoped Orlando would have learned from the Denver Nuggets, who fleeced the Knicks for Carmelo Anthony, who has been nothing but a selfish headache for New York. In hindsight, the Mets knew Reyes wasn’t coming back and should have gotten what they could.

First Howard is leaving, then he’s staying. Make up your mind. In absence of something definitive, the Magic have to deal him and get what they can.

By the way, did you hear Reyes’ response the other day when he said he had “put the Mets behind him?” He did that when he left that last game after the bunt.

***

Dillon Gee pitched well in today’s loss to Detroit, save a homer to Prince Fielder. But, that’s going to happen. Terry Collins is still having difficulty putting together his patchwork bullpen.

 

 

 

Jan 26

Tigers will regret Fielder signing ….

Not surprised at the reaction to Detroit signing Prince Fielder, giving them a formidable pair of sluggers when teamed with Miguel Cabrera. All that power; all those home runs will make the Tigers the team to beat.

Yeah, and I remember all those World Series the Yankees would win after signing Randy Johnson, Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez. At last count, the Yankees won only one Series with Rodriguez and none with the other two.

The Tigers are the latest team to be seduced by agent Scott Boras.

Detroit said it would move Cabrera to third base, which he prefers, but in truth he’s a defensive liability at third and if his mind were clear about it, he’s best suited to be a designated hitter. Fact is, so is Fielder.

All this makes me wonder what the over/under is on the number of years it will be before the Tigers regret signing Fielder for the princely sum of $214 million over the next nine years. I’m guessing four years.

His body type suggests he’s susceptible to getting out of shape or breaking down physically. I don’t know enough about Fielder’s emotional make-up to say he won’t work hard to stay in shape, but history dictates he could get complacent and possibly break down. It also dictates, and strongly, that the deeper the Tigers get into this contract the more the money will become a burden.

Look at the scorecard: Alex Rodriguez with the Rangers and Yankees; Manny Ramirez with Boston; Ryan Howard with the Phillies; Jayson Werth with Washington; Carlos Beltran with the Mets; Barry Zito with San Francisco; and Giambi with the Yankees.

There are dozens more.

Whether it be the money, lack of production, injuries, testing positive for steroids, or in Ramirez’s case, being a boor and quitting on his team, every one of those teams wished they could dump the contract.

The Tigers are going for it this year. They’d better make it because this won’t be a happy marriage.

Jan 20

Thinking Mets and other things.

Just want to say thanks again to Joe DeCaro for posting on the blog as I go through some things. Going in today for a procedure. Have been in a lot of discomfort lately and hoping this will help. I will keep trying to post whenever I can.

In the interim, some thoughts have been going through my mind I’d like to share with you.

1) I understand selling bricks on the walk ways surrounding to Citi Field. It’s the norm these days outside the new stadiums. It brings in some cash, but hardly dents the expenses of a team. You’re certainly not going to sign a front line pitcher selling bricks. You’re not going to do it either by selling parts of the outfield wall. I know the Mets won’t pass on an opportunity to bring in some money, but this really looks desperate, which, of course, the Mets are … it is embarrassing, really. What’s next, having players stand outside the gates this summer holding tin cups or tip jars?

2) Saw a nice write-up in the papers where Carlos Beltran was in town to honor a a long time Mets fan and friend who passed away. He presented the man’s children with Mets jerseys. I don’t know why it was Beltran wasn’t fully appreciated here, but he is arguably one of the best position players in franchise history and was always a gentleman. He represented the Mets with class, but wasn’t always treated well by the front office, media and fans. It will be a long time before the Mets see another like him.

3) Prince Fielder talked to the Nationals and Rangers, and both could be ideal landing spots. If the money is comparable, you would have to think Texas would be ideal for him because the Rangers are already a good team; the Rangers have a band-box of a ball park; the weather is ideal for hitting year round; the Rangers offer more protection in the line-up; and the American League has the designated hitter. Yes, there are a lot of good reasons why he should lean toward Texas, just as Albert Pujols logically should have been thinking about staying in St. Louis. But, logic has nothing to do with it and it will come down to the largest check.

Jan 04

Mets face difficult start.

It won’t take long to figure out the 2012 Mets.

The team entering spring training without expectations – at least positive ones – face a difficult schedule despite 13 games at Citi Field and ten on the road. That includes everybody in their division, so we’ll have an idea of how they’ll stack up against the NL East.

I looked at their schedule this afternoon and if things play out as expected, they could be done before the weather gets warm. It isn’t hard to imagine interest in the baseball season being done in Flushing before the kids are done with school.

They open with a pair of three-game series at home against the Braves, who always give them a hard time, and the new-and-improved Washington Nationals (80-81 last year), who are talking with Prince Fielder.

Then they have consecutive three-game series at Philly and Atlanta before coming home for four games against San Francisco and three with Miami.

The Nationals and Marlins were sub-.500 last season, but both played the Mets tough and are expected to be better this year, perhaps to the point of wild-card contention.

They close out the month with three at Colorado and one in Houston, places where they have struggled.

Following two more at Houston, the Mets play Arizona, at Philadelphia and Miami, and home to Milwaukee and Cincinnati before May 18.

Think there’s a chance they could be ten games under or more by then? You bet.

It is not productive for a team to look too far ahead, but with all that’s going on with the Mets, it isn’t hard.