Thursday, May 26, 2011
In Game 6 of the 1996 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees, the final three innings played out in usual Yankees fashion. The bullpen took over in the late innings and performed flawlessly. The set-up man pitched two strong innings and then handed the ball over to the closer. The closer saved this World Series clinching game, giving the Yankees their first world championship in 18 years. The closer, who saved four games, was named the Series MVP. This blueprint was used over the next 14 years and four more World Series championships. What is unique about this World Series win was that the closer who won the MVP was John Wettland and the set-up man who pitched the 7th and 8th innings was a young Mariano Rivera. Starting in 1997, Rivera took over as the closer and the rest is history.
On Wednesday, Rivera added to his hall of fame career, another milestone that no other pitcher has ever done. Mariano Rivera is the first pitcher in MLB history to pitch in 1000 games for the same baseball team. He probably is the only baseball player to pitch in 1000 games using just 1 pitch. That nasty cutter.
What amazes me is that he has saved 572 games using that one pitch. You always hear how hitters always adjust to pitches and then the pitchers have to adjust and so begins one of the great things about baseball. With Rivera, he has made no adjustments and no matter what adjustments the batter makes, the results were usually the same, Rivera gets the save.
Take a look at the NY Times video article below that shows how Mariano dominates hitters. It is informative and it still makes you scratch your head. After watching the video, you realize what a great closer this guy is. There may not be anyone like him for a long time.
When you are at Yankee Stadium, and the ninth inning arrives and the Yankees are up by a few runs and you hear the beginning notes of Metallica's Enter Sandman, you know what you are about see. A one pitch wonder. Congrats Mo.