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Thursday, July 20, 2017

It's Summertime, summertime, sum sum summertime-The Jamies, 1958, co-written by Sherman Feller, Fenway Park PA announcer, 1967-1993



"Sherman Feller (Feller, who co-wrote "Summertime, Summertime" with Tom Jameson, later became more famous as the public address announcer for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.)"

Sherman Feller, IMDB: "Public address announcer at Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts, home of the Boston Red Sox, 1967-1993."

Lyrics for above song at end of this post.

"The Jamies were an American singing group, led by Tom and Serena Jameson. The group's 1958 single for Epic Records, "Summertime, Summertime," reached #26 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Both "Summertime" and its b-side, "Searching for You", are often described as doo-wop, because of their time period and their a-capella harmonies (with a harpsichord backing on "Summertime, Summertime"). However, both songs may also be described as pop versions of sacred harp styles, as the group started as church singers.[citation needed]

Several singles (many written or co-written by members Jameson and Feller) followed "Summertime, Summertime", none of them hits. In 1962, they re-released "Summertime, Summertime" and hit again, this time peaking at #38.

The song's fame far eclipsed the band's; The Fortunes, The Doodletown Pipers, Hobby Horse, Jan and Dean, The Legendary Masked Surfers, Mungo Jerry, and Sha Na Na all covered the tune, and it was used in commercials for Buick and Applebee's.[2] It was also featured in the 1978 film, Fingers.

Tom Jameson died from cancer on July 19, 2009, at the age of 72.

MEMBERS:
Note:This list has every member of the Jamies
Thomas "Tom" Earl Jameson
Serena Jameson (Thomas Jameson's sister, who sang lead vocals)
Jeannie Roy
Arthur Blair
Sherman Feller (Feller, who co-wrote "Summertime, Summertime" with Tom Jameson, later became more famous as the public address announcer for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.)

SINGLES:
"Summertime, Summertime" b/w "Searching for You" (Epic Records, 1958 single 9281 mono)
"Snow Train" b/w "When the Sun Goes Down" (Epic, 1958)
"Don't Darken My Door" b/w "Evening Star" (United Artists, 1959)"

Lyrics for  "Summertime, summertime, sum sum summertime,"-The Jamies, 1958, from genius.com

"It's summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime summertime...

Well shut them books and throw 'em away
And say goodbye to dull school days
Look alive and change your ways
It's summertime...

Well no more studying history
And no more reading geography
And no more dull geometry
Because it's summertime

(Chorus)
It's time to head straight for them hills
It's time to live and have some thrills
Come along and have a ball
A regular free-for-all

Well are you comin' or are you ain't
You slow poke are my one complaint
Hurry up before I faint
It's summertime

Well I'm so happy that I could flip
Oh how I'd love to take a trip
I'm sorry teacher but zip your lip
Because it's summertime

(Chorus)
Well we'll go swimmin' every day
No time to work just time to play
If your folks complain just say
"It's summertime"

And every night we'll have a dance
Cause what's a vacation without romance
Oh man this jive gets me in a trance
Because it's summertime

Chorus
It's summertime

It's summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime summertime sum sum summertime
Summertime

It's summertime"

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Monday, July 17, 2017

30 for 30 ESPN documentary describes how Mike and the Mad Dog became the template for sports talk radio-Washington Post

July 12, 2017, "New ‘30 for 30’ shows how ‘Mike and the Mad Dog’ gave sports-talk radio its bite," Washington Post, Matt Bonesteel

getty
"New York saturates “Mike and the Mad Dog,” ESPN’s latest “30 for 30” documentary that premieres Thursday night (July 13) at 8 p.m. EDT. From the jazzy soundtrack to the five-borough accents of nearly everyone who appears on-screen, it’s a thoroughly Big Apple story of two Long Island guys who were haphazardly thrown together in a radio studio nearly 30 years ago and ended up as the template for an entire industry. Without Mike Francesa and Chris Russo, there would likely be no “Goober and the Donk” on 1090 The Zone (or whatever your local sports-talk crew and station are called), no “longtime listener first-time caller” and probably no “First Take” on ESPN.

Whether you think this is a good thing is a matter of personal preference, but the impact of the show is undeniable, even if its reach during its prime was limited mostly to the tri-state area. For much of its run — 1989 to 2008 — “Mike and the Mad Dog” was broadcast only on New York’s WFAN, the nation’s first full-time sports-talk radio station. In its later years it was simulcast in a few other cities (Albany, Tampa) and televised by the Yes cable network (which was available nationally on DirecTV), but compared with the likes of other New York-based radio talkers like Howard Stern — whose show was broadcast in 45 markets in 2004, just months before he announced his impending move to satellite radio — Francesa and Russo’s show was grounded in New York and never much strayed from its idioms, customs, dialects and professional sports teams.

“They are the sound that New York makes when it is talking to itself,” Nick Paumgarten wrote in the definitive “Mike and the Mad Dog” story, a 2004 New Yorker article (Paumgarten appears as one of the documentary’s talking heads).

So why devote an hour to a long-gone show that was basically a provincial phenomenon during its long run? Daniel Forer, the director of the documentary, said in a telephone interview that his point in making “Mike and the Mad Dog” was to show just how big of an impact Francesa and Russo made on a genre that once was foreign to radio listeners but now is a fact of life.

“That was one of the things that I wanted to bring out in the show: To share the story of the start of the first all-sports radio station and give a sense of what the show was like for those who had heard of the show but not heard it,” he said.

“It’s like a little-known rock band from England making waves with a top hit over there and you want to hear them over here,” he continued. “The documentary will give [viewers] a chance to see what the fuss was about.”

The talents of the two hosts cannot be discounted: Francesa haughty and pompous, a know-it-all, Russo at times unhinged and borderline incomprehensible but just as knowledgeable as his partner. Taken together, they gave us something that was seen all the time on the field or court but seldom over the air (at the time, anyway): “Mike and the Mad Dog” gave us conflict, our own arguments over what’s good and what’s bad writ loud.

Russo and Francesa had “authentic, combative personalities that were very different,” Forer said. “Chris a little bit more high-pitched, a little bit more enthusiastic, Mike a little bit more low key and a little bit more bombastic. They both had this passion and this wealth of knowledge and they didn’t want to lose to each other. They were not characters, they were themselves. It really was a clash of personalities. …

“People hated them and people loved them but people had to listen to them.”

And that template soon began to be repeated just about everywhere, in part because “Mike and the Mad Dog” proved that sports talk could be highly rated and comparatively cheap to produce (the golden combination to radio executives). WFAN billed itself as the first radio station devoted entirely to sports talk when it launched in July 1987, and WIP in Philadelphia followed just months later. By 2005 there were 500 such stations in the United States, and six years later that number stood at 677. Today there are 790 sports-talk stations, according to Nielsen’s Inside Radio. Many big-time sports cities now have at least two stations. Some have three.

Francesa, who continued on in the “Mike and the Mad Dog” time slot after the pair split in 2008, still is on one of those stations, for now: He says he’s leaving WFAN when his contract is up at the end of this year. Russo got a satellite-radio channel named after him and hosts his own show in roughly the same afternoon time slot as Francesa. The two were better together than they are apart: Francesa has fallen asleep on the air at least twice over the last few years and otherwise has become renowned for ill-informed analysis and borderline offensive language. Russo spends a lot of on-air time grousing about the quality of the other shows on his Sirius channel. But they were something when sharing a studio, and maybe one day they’ll do it again (as has been rumored ever since they started doing sporadic, one-off reunion shows in March 2016).

I have no inside information” on whether the two will join forces once again, Forer said. “That said, I’m a fan so I’m hopeful that whether it’s weekly, monthly, quarterly they get together so a younger generation can appreciate the art of sports-talk radio by the men who did it best.”"



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Saturday, July 08, 2017

NJ Gov. Chris Christie will guest host on WFAN Mon. and Tues., July 10 and 11 in Francesa slot-Bergen Record

Gov. Christie is a Mets fan

7/6/17, "WFAN: Christie's appearances an audition for new job," NorthJersey.com, Bergen Record, Keldy Ortiz and Dustin Racioppi

"For two days next week, Gov. Chris Christie is scheduled to sit in as a guest host on sports-talk radio station WFAN 660-AM New York, an appearance a station spokeswoman called an audition. 

Christie is slated to be heard on Monday and Tuesday instead of afternoon host Mike Francesa, the radio station posted on its website. The two days will be audition days, Jaime Saberito, a station spokesperson, said Friday, as Francesa is set to leave the station once his contract ends later this year.

Christie will host the 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. show along with Evan Roberts, a WFAN host. He isn't the only one slotted to audition next week. Mike Valenti from WXYT-FM 97.1 in Detroit, former National Football League quarterback Chris Simms, SNY's Brian Custer and NFL Network and WFAN contributor Kim Jones will also audition next week, the station said. Roberts and his midmorning co-host, Joe Benigno, are also scheduled to audition in the afternoon slot, the station said.

Mark Chernoff, the station's program director and vice president of its parent company, CBS Radio New York, previously told The Record he would consider the governor, whose term ends in January 2018.

"If he's interested and we're interested, it's worth pursuing," Chernoff said in February.

Chernoff has reportedly said he would like to have a plan in place for Francesa's replacement by Labor Day.

Christie has previously said he has an interest in sports broadcasting. But the governor is prohibited from seriously seeking or considering job prospects while in office.

Mike DuHaime, Christie's longtime strategist, said Friday that the governor has not precluded any job opportunities that may come his way, but that he is still focused on finishing his remaining six months in office....

Christie regularly fills in as a co-host on the station’s morning program “Boomer and Carton.” Chernoff told The Record earlier in the year that he had planned to rotate Christie into the afternoon slot during the summer if the governor was willing....

"The governor enjoys the opportunity to talk about sports on WFAN and is happy to have the chance to do that with Evan Roberts for eight hours next week over two shows. Despite those eight hours, as always, he will be on the job as governor," Christie spokesman Brian Murray said in a statement. "As for the governor's future, he appreciates the interest and concern about his next employment from his friends in the media, but he is not concerned at all about it.""

.............................

Comment: I've heard Christie a few times on WFAN, and he's very good.


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Friday, June 30, 2017

Sony Music will resume production of vinyl records in March 2018. Global vinyl revenue expected to hit $1 billion in 2017-BBC

6/29/17, "Sony Music goes back to vinyl records," BBC

"Sony Music, one of the big three global record companies, says it will start pressing its own vinyl releases again for the first time since 1989.

The firm will resume in-house domestic vinyl production at a Japanese factory south-west of Tokyo by March 2018.

The move comes amid renewed demand for old-fashioned black plastic records, which now occupy a key market niche.

At one time, the format had been expected to disappear after the rise of CDs, digital downloads and streaming.

During vinyl's long decline from the late 1980s onwards, many vinyl record factories closed down, with production confined to a few specialist independent firms.

But this year, global vinyl revenue is expected to hit $1bn (£770m), with many consumers swearing by its supposedly superior sound quality.


Analysis: Jonty Bloom, business correspondent

They said the CD had killed it and that digital downloads had left it dead and buried: but vinyl is back. Sony, which played a major part in killing off vinyl by developing CDs, has seen them replaced in turn by other music technology such as downloads and streaming, but vinyl is increasingly popular once again. 

The format has been saved by a resurgence in demand, as it attracts not only nostalgic older consumers, but also younger generations who have rediscovered records, especially in clubs and at music festivals.

Sony is even struggling to find older engineers who know how to make records. Part of the reason for the popularity of vinyl records may be that you can actually sell them in shops. In the UK, record sales brought in more money last year than streaming platforms - although the unit costs of vinyl is many times that of streaming.


Vinyl records have been growing in popularity again in recent years, boosted by events such as Record Store Day in April every year, for which record companies produce special limited-edition singles and albums.

Sony's move comes a few months after it equipped its Tokyo studio with a cutting lathe, used to produce the master discs needed for manufacturing vinyl records.

It has not yet said which titles it will be pressing in vinyl, but big sellers in the format these days are a mixture of classic back-catalogue items and modern releases by new bands."



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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Girls at their first Yankee game
























6/20/17, "The girls first game," Jimmie Johnson...Angels at Yankees



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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Asbury Park NJ named 'coolest small town in America.' More than a million people visited Asbury Park in 2016. The town's population is 16,000-Asbury Park Press

June 7, 2017, "Asbury Park named 'coolest small town' in America," Asbury Park Press, Austin Bogues, USA Today Network

"Budget Travel magazine recently named Asbury Park the "coolest small town" in America.

"We love Asbury Park’s cultural diversity, welcoming vibe, and year-round calendar of events: Fourth of July fireworks, Oysterfest, Zombie Walk, and so much more," the magazine said, in an article posted on its website.

"It's one heck of a recognition," said Asbury Park Mayor John Moor, who said his great-grandfather first moved to the shore community in 1888.

"It's a community-wide-recognition and really a great choice," Moor said. "It's really the residents, the businesses, everyone that made this happen."

More than a million visitors came to Asbury Park last year, according to the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce. The city has a population of just under 16,000. It is about 1.6 square miles."... image of Asbury Park Boardwalk from Asbury Park Press

Editor's note: Jersey Shore summers and baseball are connected. My brother brought a small radio to the beach and tuned to the Yankee radio broadcast. That's how I first heard John Sterling's voice. He's been doing Yankee play by play since 1989. NYC AM radio stations that have carried the Yankees reach the Jersey shore pretty well.





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Friday, May 26, 2017

ESPN has lurched left politically and has injected victimology into its sports conversation-Jason Whitlock

May 26, 2017, "Former Observer sportswriter Jason Whitlock: Cord-cutting hurts ESPN, but so does its politics," Charlotte Observer, Langston Wertz, Jr.

"Former Charlotte Observer sportswriter Jason Whitlock says that, yes, cord-cutting is to blame for heavy losses in ESPN viewership. But Whitlock, a former ESPN employee now working at Fox Sports 1, also says the network’s politics are also part of the blame.

According to Nielsen data, ESPN has lost more than 11 million subscribers in the past five years. Whitlock -- who is co-host of FS1’s “Speak For Yourself” sports talk show with Colin Cowherd and Jason McIntyre -- appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show on the Fox News Network Thursday. Carlson said ESPN was still the most powerful brand in sports, but he questioned whether ESPN was pushing politics too much.

“I think you’ve asked the right question,” Whitlock answered. “I think cord-cutting has a lot to do with their subscriber and the viewership loss. But the animosity and some of the viewership loss, I do think is a direct result of their lurch to the left (politically), and injecting progressive victimology into the sports conversation.

“If you really understand sports culture, and all the values taught in sports, from Little League, Pee Wee, on, you’re never a victim. There are never any excuses that are accepted. Every coach teaches every play from 5 years old on to 45 years old, we don’t tolerate excuses, we don’t tolerate victimology, and now so much of the conversation by the sports media, ESPN being the leader of this, is just filled with so-and-so is a victim, Colin Kaepernick’s a victim, everybody’s a victim. It’s turning traditional sports fans off.”

Whitlock said he has written and talked often about what he feels is a change in the sports landscape.

I think, again, so much of the media has moved left,” Whitlock said. “It applies to ESPN, but it also applies to all the media. Silicon Valley, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram is now in control of the mainstream media. Everyone is catering all of their content to Silicon Valley and San Francisco values.

“That’s far different than the old media which catered everything to New York traditional liberal values. The values in San Francisco, a bit more revolutionary, a bit more progressive, than a traditional New York-based media.”"

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Mystique and Aura take the field at Yankee Stadium as Derek Jeter's #2 is retired, likely last time Jeter, Bernie, Mariano, Posada and Pettitte are on the field together













"Mystique and Aura" fan sign from World Series game 5 at Yankee Stadium, Nov. 1, 2001, Yankees won 3-2 in 12 innings.

11/2/2001, "Mystique, Aura, and Timely Hits," Tim Sullivan

"MYSTIQUE AND AURA ARE BACK"

"During the 2001 World Series, then Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher, Curt Schilling was asked if the Diamondbacks would have any trouble handling the Yankee “mystique.” Schilling responded saying Mystique and Aura sound like dancers at a night club.

The next night, Fox cameras spotted the greatest fan sign ever that read "Mystique and Aura Appearing Nightly.""...

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Above, 5/14/17, "Yankees retire Derek Jeter's No. 2," Newsday
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5/14/17, "Derek Jeter’s No. 2 officially retired by Yankees," Newsday, Laura Albanese

""Looking back, it was a special time, a special period in Yankee history.” 

And one that very officially came to a close Sunday. The current Yankees have plenty of promise, but there’s no denying this could have been the last time Jeter and Williams and Rivera and Posada and Martinez and Pettitte and Torre are on the field together.



Above, 5/14/17, First three to the left of Jeter plaque: Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte. First two to the right are Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams. New York Yankees twitter

(continuing): "“It’s the end of an era,” Posada said. “He’s it. He’s the last one.”"


 



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Friday, May 05, 2017

Actor Joe Mantegna throws first pitch in Chicago for Yankees-Cubs, 5/5/17









5/5/17, "Actor Joe Mantegna throws a ceremonial first pitch before the Chicago Cubs take on the New York Yankees at Wrigley Field on May 5, 2017 in Chicago." getty. Final, 3-2, Yankees over Cubs. "Yankees vs. Cubs," Newsday.com



"The Yankees opened a three-game set against the World Series champion Chicago Cubs with a come-from-behind 3-2 win on Friday at Wrigley Field."

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tanaka wins with ground balls-4/27/17















Above from ESPN MLB Scoreboard, 4/27/17 (Sorry, couldn't find permanent link. Scoreboard is temporary). At https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo, only recent news was about football)

4/27/17, Yankees 3, Red Sox O. Winning pitcher Tanaka, complete game 97 pitches, 17 ground balls, 3 strikeouts. Losing pitcher Sale, 109 pitches, 10 strikeouts but only 8 ground balls.





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Friday, April 21, 2017

Baseball’s New Leadoff Hitters Don’t Need To Be Speed Demons-538, Neil Paine

4/20/17, "Baseball’s New Leadoff Hitters Don’t Need To Be Speed Demons," fivethirtyeight.com, "Just look at Kyle Schwarber." by Neil Paine

"Today’s leadoff men draw more walks and hit for substantially more power than they did in previous generations — which, unsurprisingly, leads to better production (i.e., a higher on-base plus slugging rate) than in the past. But they’ve also changed how they approach each at-bat: Relative to overall trends in the game, leadoff hitters now launch more fly balls and hit to the opposite field less.

Even that fabled top-of-the-order speed is on the decline, with leadoff men stealing 21 percent fewer bases per trip to first base (again, after adjusting for league average) than they did just 15 years earlier. Clearly, our mental image of a speedy slap-hitter leading off is as outdated as a 25 cent hot dog."...

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Former Cardinals teammates Holliday and Rosenthal catch up behind batting cage in the Bronx, 4/14/17

4/14/17, "Ex-teammates Trevor Rosenthal and Matt Holliday catch up behind the batting cage Friday evening in the Bronx," ESPN, Mark Saxon. Cardinals at Yankees


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Friday, March 31, 2017

Mariano Rivera at White House meeting, will participate in Trump effort against opioid abuse-3/29/17









3/29/17, "Mariano Rivera introduces himself at WH opioid event and Trump quickly jumps in: "Oh they could use you now! I think you'd make $100M/yr now!"" Mar 29 

Right to left: Trump, NJ Gov. Chris Christie, Trump son in law Jared Kushner, Rivera, and Fla. AG Pam Bondi (per her name card on the table): "President Trump has appointed Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to a commission to help fight opioid abuse on a national level....In a statement, Florida’s Attorney General thanked the President as well as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie—who will chair the panel—for caring about what she calls “a deadly epidemic,” adding thousands of Americans die each year from drug overdoses." 

3/30/17, "Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera joins Trump's opioid listening group," USA Today Sports 

"Former Yankees great Mariano Rivera was summoned to the White House on Wednesday. (No word on whether “Enter Sandman” played when Rivera stepped into the West Wing.) Rivera, who retired after the 2013 season as baseball’s all-time saves leader (652),"... 

[Ed. note: Rivera also had 42 post season "saves" over his 141 post season innings for an actual "all time saves" total of 694. His 141 post season innings--against the toughest competitors and under the brightest lights--amount to an additional two years of relief work at 70 innings per year, sandwiched within the calendar years of his regular season stats but not mentioned in this article. It may be technically correct per MLB rules to continue to omit Rivera's post season work when reporting the "all time saves leader" stat, but why would you want to? Why would you want to cheat anyone out of a vast body of work? Why not at least change the name of the stat to something other than "all time" since "regular season only" isn't "all time?" Rivera pitched into November twice, 2001 and 2009. Shorter off seasons meant less time recovering while other relievers were sitting on the couch resting up to pad the next year's regular season stats.]
 
(continuing): "was in Washington D.C. for a listening session on Trump’s newly created opioid commission. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a devoted Mets fan, is leading the group, which was created to fight a growing opioid addiction problem in the U.S.
 

Rivera is a philanthropist these days and leads the Mariano Rivera Foundation, which supports community-based organizations. The group specifically focuses on education, health and social and economic development, according to its website, marianoriverafoundation.org. One of its biggest projects to date was renovating a church in New Rochelle, N.Y., in 2014.

Trump steered the conversation to baseball when introducing Rivera but offered no specifics on what role the closer might play on the committee.  “Oh, they could use you now,” Trump said of the Yankees. “You know, I think you’d make $100 million a year right now…I watched for many years, Mariano. I’d sit with George (Steinbrenner), and George always felt good when Mariano was throwing.”"  "The Associated Press contributed to this report."
.......................

Washington Post:

3/30/17, "Now THIS is the art of the deal: Trump sees Mariano Rivera making $100 million a year now," Washington Post, Cindy Boren

"Mariano Rivera, the New York Yankees’ all-time great closer, made a trip to the White House, where the thoughts of a president who happens to be a big league Yankees fan turned quickly to his other passion: deals. The number President Trump was thinking of? $100 million. Yowser.

That’s one way to break the ice. Rivera, who was representing his foundation at an opioid-awareness discussion that also featured Yankee fan/Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), [NJ has many Yankee fans, but
Gov. Christie is a Mets fan] had just introduced himself to the assembled group when Trump couldn’t resist.

“We could use you now,” Trump joked. “I think you’d make 100 million a year right now.”

That brought a smile to Rivera’s face and laughs around the table. Trump went on to reminisce about the times he spent with the team’s late owner, George Steinbrenner, and how Rivera always delivered.

“He threw the heaviest pitch,” Trump said. “You made the ball like it weighed 30 pounds.” But…back to that $100 million deal.

Trump was kidding, we think, but who wouldn’t want to hear “Enter Sandman” and see Rivera, who will turn (gulp) 48 in November, take those first steps, do a quick skip at the warning track and trot to the mound again? Never mind that Rivera, baseball’s all-time saves leader, pretty much left it all on the field when he walked away in 2013. We can dream."...


1988, Trump and Steinbrenner







3/26/1988, "New York Yankees manager Billy Martin, right, meets developer Donald Trump at Municipal Stadium in West Palm Beach Sat., March 26, 1988. Seated with Trump are his son Donald, 10, with a ball given him by Martin and George Steinbrenner during the game with the Montreal Expos.," AP, Drew. 7/4/13, "Born On The 4th Of July: 16 Photos Of George Steinbrenner," Huffington Post, Chris Greenberg
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"Mo's final entrance at Yankee Stadium," Sept. 26, 2013


 
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Five MLB scouts were in Panama looking for the next Rod Carew or Mariano Rivera-Matt Martell, The Daily Collegian (Penn State)

3/15/17, "A day at the ballpark," The Daily Collegian (Penn State), Matt Martell

"I spent last week in Panama City (Panama) with Penn State’s international reporting class. It was the greatest week of my life.

The purpose of the class is for a small group of hand-picked college journalism students to learn the job of a foreign correspondent.

My story is about the current state of Panamanian baseball. So, for a week, I set out to learn as much as possible about baseball in Panama. I talked to scouts, teenage players, coaches, fans and sports reporters.

I left the country with not only a better understanding of Panamanian culture, but I also developed a connection with others through the game I love.

It was Thursday when I set out to watch a practice. Players at the PTY Baseball Academy started their workouts at 8 a.m., as they do every weekday morning. They practiced on a field similar to the Sandlot for three hours. Five scouts from Major League Baseball teams were there watching, hoping to find the next Rod Carew or Mariano Rivera.

Sometime around 10, I approached three ballplayers testing their defensive skills with a game of pepper. They ranged from ages 14-16. I asked for the bat by pointing at it because I didn’t speak enough Spanish to verbally ask for it.

He gave it to me, and for the next five minutes or so, I hit grounders to the three players. Whichever one scooped up the grounder lobbed it back to me and I’d hit another one to the next player. Then, one of them jogged over to me. He was wearing Colorado Rockies apparel because he had recently signed a contract to play in their Minor League system.

He handed me a glove, grabbed a bat and pointed to where his friends were standing. It was my turn to take the field.

The next 10 minutes breezed by in the 95-degree heat. I snagged the skipping grounders off the rubble field and tossed them back to him.

We smiled and laughed, but we didn’t say a word to one another. We didn’t have to.

In those moments, I wasn’t interviewing the players and scribbling down notes, but they were still telling me their stories. The bouncing baseballs were the airwaves through which we communicated. In those moments, I began to understand the essence of baseball.

Baseball connects cultures. It unites races and creeds. It’s the ultimate cliche, yet unequivocally unique. It’s imperfectly perfect. It’s love and hate. War and peace. It’s universal. It’s life.

Baseball helped me understand that even though the players and I live worlds apart and speak different languages, we are forever entwined through the 15 minutes we spent together without a care in the world.

They weren’t worried about making it to the majors, and I wasn’t worried about the declining journalism job-market. We were at ease. We were having the time of our lives.

When I realized I should let them get back to their practice, I looked at Enrique, the Rockies prospect. I flipped him the glove, held out my fist and said, “Gracias.”

He nodded and pressed his knuckles against mine before he jogged out to shortstop to practice turning double plays.

The moment was over, but the memory had just begun."
.........
"Matt Martell is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism. His email is mtm5481@psu.edu or follow him on Twitter at @mmartell728."


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Friday, March 03, 2017

2017 New York Yankees Broadcast Schedule including spring training games

2017 New York Yankees Broadcast Schedule, MLB.com. Includes spring training games and radio

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Maddon family hanging out with 2016 World Series trophy























2/24/17, "The Maddon family hanging out with a certain trophy, ," Jesse Rogers, ESPN

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fact Checking Goose Gossage's Fake Career claims such as his 'thrill' of coming in with bases loaded: "Silly Goose: Mariano Rivera and the myth of the 7-out Save," Baseball Prospectus guest author Kevin Baker addresses Gossage statements point by point

Gossage boilerplate is addressed by Kevin Baker in his 10/31/2011 Baseball Prospectus article. Gossage's eleven+ year long smear campaign against Mariano Rivera has become a second career for Gossage. Yankees provide venue and microphone, media sells the hate.
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Mariano Rivera
Goose Gossage

10/31/2011, "Silly Goose: Mariano Rivera and the Myth of the Seven-Out Save," Kevin Baker, Guest at Baseball Prospectus, "Baseball ProGuestUs." (Rivera retired after the 2013 season)

"I used to love watching Goose Gossage pitch. With that wonderful rising fastball he was one of the best examples ever of the pure power game....

That’s why I was happy to see him elected to the Hall of Fame, an honor he heartily deserved. Gossage’s approach to the Hall was as straightforward as his pitching style. He campaigned actively by pointing out how much harder relief pitchers were worked back in his day than now, and how much more difficult it was to run up impressive save totals.

His points were well-taken, and now that he’s in the Hall…
  • I wish he would shut up.
Over the last few years, the Goose’s advocacy for the pitchers of his era has turned more and more into carping about the closers of today, and especially Mariano Rivera. This is usually followed by some boilerplate about what a great competitor Rivera is, apples and oranges, blah blah blah. But more and more, it’s become downright pissy. Worse yet, it’s begun to influence those highly
  • impressionable young minds we call sportswriters and broadcasters.
“…when I pitched the ninth inning to save a three-run lead, coming in with no one on base, I felt guilty. I would go home and be embarrassed,” Gossage told Fox Sports online columnist Greg Couch last month. “Rivera is a great pitcher,
  • but what he’s doing is easy. It really is.”
Easy, huh?

Let’s have a quick show of (liver-spotted) hands: What springs to mind when you hear Goose Gossage talking about how “easy” it is to get through an inning without giving up three runs?
George Brett hitting a three-run homer into the upper deck of Yankee Stadium to clinch the 1980 ALCS for the Royals? Yes, thank you, Yankees fans!

Can I get an “amen” from the Padres fans out there? Remember Kirk Gibson going deep to wrap up the 1984 World Series for the Tigers with a three-run blast…the inning after Lance Parrish
  • had already homered off Gossage? You stay classy, San Diego!
That’s right, Rich Gossage’s two most famous moments in postseason history consist of him
  • surrendering mammoth, three-run homers.
But wait, that’s not really fair. Sure, it wasn’t strictly the postseason, but it was Goose Gossage out there on the mound saving the “Bucky Dent game,” the 1978 playoff between the Yankees and the Red Sox. 
In that game, the Goose was actually given a three-run lead at one point…and barely survived, surrendering hits or walks to six of the last eleven Red Sox he faced. Save for a terrific head fake by Lou Piniella in right field,
  • Boston would probably have tied the game in the ninth.
Not so easy, holding on to a three-run lead.
Unfortunately, thanks to Goose, Fox’s Greg Couch joined all too many commentators in
  • damning The Great One’s record-breaking 603 saves with faint praise.
Couch claims that he doesn’t want “to doubt the greatness of Rivera,” but that there is “no way of knowing” if he is the greatest closer ever, due to the faulty, “fabricated” statistic that is the “save.” 

What would be a better one?

Well, Couch quotes approvingly a definition that’s been bandied about a lot recently. That is, a save of “seven outs or more”—or over two innings. Goose Gossage has 52 of these in the regular season, he informs us; Mariano Rivera…one, Trevor Hoffman, two. Optimally, what a real closer does, according to Couch and Goose, is to “come in during the
  • seventh inning, bases loaded, one-run lead.”
“I used to love that,” says Gossage. “They used to use and abuse us, but think of the pressure. You couldn’t even let them put the ball in play.”

I’m sorry, but just when did we start handing out style points for degree of difficulty? This is baseball, not gymnastics or figure skating. The idea is to win. If Mr. Couch covered music, would he be sneering, “Nice concerto, Mr. Heifetz. But let’s see you play it while crossing a high wire—riding a tricycle?”

I’ll concede that there are plenty of problems with the current save statistic. And some day, in baseball’s equivalent of punctuated equilibrium, a manager will climb out of the antediluvian ooze and try using his best relief pitcher in the most critical moment of the game, whether or not that’s in the ninth inning. (Although this is expecting a lot of prescience from the poor manager
  • and it still leaves that pesky ninth for someone to get through.)
But what the record shows is not that Mariano Rivera should be used more like Goose Gossage.
  • It’s that Goose Gossage should’ve been used more like Mariano Rivera.
The basic idea here is that a relief pitcher is a weapon, and like all weapons, it makes sense to use it as wisely and efficiently as possible. Someone—I think it was Roger Angell—compared the closer to the cavalry of Napoleonic era warfare, designed not to make foolhardy frontal assaults, but to exploit breaches in the line and turn an opening into a rout. I think that’s a pretty fair analogy. And when it comes right down to it, the weapon that was Goose Gossage was all
  • too often sent charging into the guns, in acts of idiotic bravado.
Let’s examine first the mythology of the seven-out save—we’ll call it a “Supersave.”

Why seven outs and not, say, six, or nine? The whole idea seems at least as arbitrary and fabricated as the original save stat. For that matter, Gossage’s 52 Supersaves become a lot less impressive when you take into account the fact that he was a major-league pitcher for 22 seasons, and a reliever for 21 of them.

Thanks to the brilliant statistical work of Baseball Prospectus’ own Bradley Ankrom, we can report that the Goose was in fact only the master of the extended save
  • for a few seasons,
  • most of them near the beginning of that very long career.
He was at his best in 1975 when, as a 24-year-old hurler for a poor White Sox team, he converted 11 of 13 Supersave opportunities, throwing 141.2 innings. After flopping as a starter for the Sox the following year, he came back in 1977 to convert seven of nine Supersave chances, while throwing 133 innings.

Pretty spectacular. But this was clearly a young man’s game, and the Goose would not last at it. In 1978, at age 27, Gossage racked up six more Supersaves—but also blew six such chances. He had only two more good years at this sort of work—1980, when he converted nine of 11, and 1984, when he was six of seven.

After that, for the last nine years of his career, he racked up exactly four more saves of seven outs or more, while blowing two. Nor was the save rule always unkind to him; one of these “Supersaves” consisted of pitching four innings—
  • beginning with an eight-run lead.
At the same time, the Goose would, according to my count, blow 25 Supersaves—or about one-third of all his opportunities, a ratio that would be
  • unacceptable to most teams today.
Yet this was pretty much in keeping with Gossage’s entire career record. Looking it over—thanks again to Mr. Ankrom’s industry—the first thing that jumps out at you is
  • just how many games
  • Goose Gossage managed to lose,
  • compared to all leading closers today.
Even in 1977-78, two of his very best years, spent pitching for a hard-hitting Pirates club that won 96 games and a World Champion Yankees team, he lost a total of 20 games coming out of the pen,
  • and blew 22 saves—in other words, almost one-third
of the 129 total games those two teams lost. Nor was this an anomaly. Throughout his career—spent largely with winning clubs—Gossage ran up double figures in blown saves in six of the 13 seasons when he was either his team’s primary closer or at least shared the role.

Mariano Rivera, by contrast, has never lost more than six games in any one season, in his 15 straight years as the Yankees’ closer and another as their set-up man. He has blown more than six saves only once, in 1997, his first year as a closer, when he gave it up nine times.

It’s a big reason why Mo’s failures are so memorable. He reached almost ridiculous heights of efficiency in 2008 and 2009, blowing one and two saves, respectively, out of a total of 86 opportunities. It’s why his lifetime percentage of saves is a mind-blowing, all-time high of 90 percent,
  • while Gossage’s is only 73.5 percent.
Even in his heyday, the Goose routinely squandered between a quarter and a third of his save opportunities. In 1977, he managed to save only 72 percent of the leads he was sent in to preserve.
  • In 1978, just 69 percent,
  • in 1982, only about 77 percent;
  • 1983, 63 percent;
  • 1984, 69 percent;
  • 1986, 66 percent,
  • 1987, 65 percent;
  • 1988, 56.5 percent…
after which even unevolved managers decided they’d just as soon find more novel ways to lose games.  

Goose’s best years in terms of the percentages of games he would win and save out of the pen? Well, unsurprisingly, these tended to be in the seasons when he was used the most judiciously, if only by accident.

Limited to 36 appearances and 58.1 innings in 1979, when Cliff Johnson broke his thumb in a showerroom brawl, the Goose saved a career-high 90 percent of his 21 save opportunities. In 1981, limited to just 32 appearances and 46.2 innings by an owners’ lockout, he was nearly untouchable, saving 87 percent of his opportunities (20 of 23), losing only two games, surrendering just 22 hits, two home runs, and 14 walks, and compiling an ERA of 0.77.

You’d think somebody would have noticed just how much better the Goose did with more rest, and someone did—namely Dick Howser, the most perspicacious of all Gossage’s managers during this period. Howser limited him to “just” 99 innings in 1980, a full season…in which the Goose went 6-2 and saved 33 of 37 games, including nine Supersaves.

Unfortunately for Gossage and the Yankees, Howser was fired after that one season (in no small part because of Goose’s insistence that he could throw a fastball past George Brett, a concept he never would rid himself of). Then in his thirties, the Goose was once again given over to the care and maintenance of managers who refused to make much allowance for his age or condition.

I thought I remembered him being used in a particularly egregious fashion in 1983, which marked one of Billy Martin’s later and uglier incarnations as Yankees manager. Thanks once more to Bradley Ankrom, I was able to check if this was really so. Sure enough, it was.

To be sure, Gossage’s overall innings totals remained more limited. But day to day, his use seemed more mindless than ever. Here, for instance, was the Goose’s first appearance: entering the second game of the season with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning and the Yankees trailing Seattle, 6-2.

Why, exactly? To beat the spread? Because Martin had dinner reservations at the Space Needle?
This set a pattern. Gossage would enter seven more games that year with his team trailing in the seventh inning or later, four of which they were losing by more than one run. Only once would they rally to win.

If there ever was a manager willing to indulge a pitcher’s desire to get out on the mound and stay there, it was Billy Martin. Throughout 1983, Gossage—now 32 years old—would
  • attempt six more Supersaves but convert only one of them.
It wasn’t that Goose was finished, or close to it. He still threw hard, still allowed just 82 hits and 25 walks in 87.1 innings; still struck out 90, won 13 games, and saved 22 more while compiling a 2.27 ERA. But he did blow 13 savesin a year the Yankees finished seven games out of first—
  • and clearly seemed less able to get outs when he wanted them.
This leads us to the other part of Gossage and Couch’s blather about what a “real” save should look like. That is, how “thrilled” Goose always was to come in with runners on base, particularly “bases loaded in the seventh inning.”

Throughout that 1983 season, it struck me that Gossage—now an older pitcher who probably required more time to get ready—gave up more hits and walks than ever to the first batter or two he faced, then seemed to settle down. Yet Martin almost never seemed to use him to start an inning.
The record confirms this, too. Of his 57 appearances in 1983, just four of them started an inning. In all but four of these, there was already at least one man on base. As for the “thrill” of coming in with the bases loaded…it was limited to the other team’s dugout. Goose faced that situation exactly four times all year
  • and every time, he surrendered hits that scored one or two runs.
Over the entire course of his career, Gossage would enter regular-season games with the bases loaded 48 times—far more than any closer, or even set-up man, is likely to do today. In those games he performed well…but slightly worse than he did in the rest of his appearances, compiling 16 saves and a win
  • but also blowing eight saves.
The whole notion of using Gossage this way in the first place is baffling. Why limit your big power pitcher by constantly making him pitch out of the stretch? Never mind pitch counts; do you really have so little idea of when your starter (or another reliever) is running out of steam?

Goose coming in mid-inning in 1983 suffered all five of his losses and all 13 of his blown saves, compiling a 2.32 ERA. His four appearances starting an inning are too small to be statistically meaningful, but it is interesting to note that while he gave up five hits and two walks in those six innings, he surrendered just one run and saved a game.

The moral here is, take care of your tools—or your weapons—and they’ll take care of you. “Abused,” as he claimed, for most of his career, Goose was in serious decline as a relief pitcher by his early thirtieswhereas Mariano continues as one of the very best relievers
  • in the game at 42.
The abuse of the Goose was particularly unnecessary when you consider the fact that he played most of his career with very capable bullpen mates—Kent Tekulve and Terry Forster on the Pirates; Dick Tidrow, Sparky Lyle, Ron Davis, and Dave Righetti on the Yankees; Craig Lefferts on the Padres, etc. It wasn’t a case of desperate managers trying to eke out an extra win with no one else to turn to. Goose and Couch assert that when Gossage appeared on the scene, “the bullpen was just a junk pile of washed-up starters who couldn’t throw nine innings anymore, or guys who weren’t quite good enough to start.”
  • But like so much else of which they speak, it ain’t necessarily so.
Managers had been dabbling intermittently with the idea of specialty relievers since the days of John McGraw, and by the time Goose Gossage came up in 1972, there had been quite a few good ones.  

That is, men who were outstanding pitchers, expected from an early age to throw mostly or solely in relief: Joe Page, Hoyt Wilhelm, Clem Labine, Ryne Duren, Elroy Face, Lindy McDaniel, Dick Radatz, Luis Arroyo, Ron Perranoski, Pedro Ramos, Phil Regan, Wayne Granger, Clay Carroll, Dave Guisti, Tug McGraw, Sparky Lyle, Rollie Fingers, to name just a few.

These closers threw different pitches and had different backgrounds, but they all had one thing in common: either they burned out after a few wildly successful seasons, or they
  • suffered mysterious “off years” throughout their careers. 
The answer to the “mystery” was, of course, that they were overworked. Managers were so thrilled by this new weapon, one that would preserve their every lead—or so it seemed—that they couldn’t help themselves from overusing it.

“Never save a pitcher for tomorrow. Tomorrow it might rain,” was Leo Durocher’s famous adage, and it became their watchword, even though it was never supposed to apply to relievers throwing on a daily basis.

Goose Gossage had enough arm strength, enough bulk, and enough mental toughness to endure much longer than this generation of abused pitchers, and he deserves all the accolades he’s won. But too often, his remarkable gifts were wasted—the baseball equivalent of blindly throwing cavalry at artillery batteries (a tactic that would be immortalized as, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”).

The very idea of a relief pitcher is that of someone who has one extraordinary pitch—and one only. If they have more, they are being wasted as a reliever and should be moved into the starting rotation. Overusing a reliever not only weakens his arm over the long run of the season or his career, it also provides hitters with the opportunity to adjust to his specialty pitch—and given enough opportunities, at least in the same game, major-league hitters will adjust to any pitch you can throw.

Here’s one more statistic to throw the trade-off between save and Supersave into full relief: over the course of his career, Goose Gossage threw some 600 more innings than Mariano Rivera (although 224 of these came in Goose’s one season used almost exclusively as a starter, while Rivera threw only 67.1 in 1995, when the Yanks gave him 10 starts).

However, by the year he turned 35, Gossage was throwing fewer innings per season than Rivera was for every year he was the same age. And throughout their respective careers,
  • Mo almost always logged more appearances.
So the cost of Goose’s Supersaves was more blown saves, fewer appearances, and a foreshortened career. Tell me again: Why is it better to have an athlete try to do something he can’t do as well when he overextends himself, especially when that something makes him
  • less available to his team and less effective over the course of his career?
Still, even if you could convince Couch and Gossage that it’s infinitely more rational to use relievers the way they are used today, rather than in romantic times of yore, they would argue that this only confirms Goose’s opinion that he was “abused” by his managers. It doesn’t answer the main thing they claim to want to know,
  • which is: Who’s better? Who’s the best?
In this sense, Couch is right—it’s arguing apples and oranges, and ultimately unknowable.

To wonder if Mariano could have carried Goose’s old pitching load without breaking down is about as useful as wondering if Roy Halladay could have pitched four hundred innings a year, the way Joe McGinnity and Happy Jack Chesbro did over a hundred years ago. (The answer is…yes, probably, if you started all the games in the late afternoon and handed Mr. Halladay a ball he could spit on, rub any sort of gunk on, and not replace until it had become a wobbly, soggy, gray mess.)  

Certainly, Rivera doesn’t have Gossage’s bulk…although as a young set-up man back in 1996, he did throw 107 innings, firing almost entirely fastballs that moved as much as the Goose’s ever did."...

[Ed. note: In 1996, Rivera threw 107.2 innings in regular season and 14.1 innings in post season for a total of 122 innings that year. In the 1996 World Series, he was used in 4 of the 6 games including 3 days in a row, Oct. 21, 22, and 23. In game 6 on Oct. 26, Rivera provided two scoreless innings, the 7th and 8th, his 121st and 122nd innings in 1996, entering with the score Yankees 3, Braves 1. Wetteland pitched the 9th, gave up one run, the final score Yankees 3, Braves 2.]

(continuing): "Could Mo have kept up that pace year in and year out, even with his famous cutter? Who knows? Gossage certainly didn’t; his effectiveness falling off as dramatically
  • as his yearly innings by his early-to-mid thirties.
Of course, what Couch and Gossage are driving at is how good Goose would have been in the modern era of relief pitching, free to just come in at the start of the ninth, with no one on base. I suspect he would have been spectacularly successful…
  • although again, who knows?
Rivera has pitched, after all, almost entirely in an era of bandbox ballparks and souped-up sluggers. While it would not surprise me to learn that any ballplayer today has used performance-enhancing drugs, it seems unlikely that Mo has ever done so, considering the course of his career, his body type, his declining velocity over the years, and his religious convictions.

This would mean that he has played his entire career with a handicap unlike anything that Goose was ever subjected to. Would a fastball pitcher with a wild streak, stubbornly maintaining that he could throw his ball past anyone, anytime, really have fared so well in an age of steroidal hitters who specialize in working pitch counts? Just how many of all those impressive Gossage innings included popping up bandy-legged shortstops on the first pitch, or getting batters to fly out to the far reaches of stadiums built mainly for football?

Maybe Gossage would’ve made adjustments. The great ones usually do…although it’s hard not to forget the famous footage of the Goose talking Dick Williams out of making him walk Kirk Gibson intentionally in the eighth inning of that 1984 World Series finale, while over in the other dugout,
  • Team be damned—it was all about how hard the Goose could throw.
There is one further indication of how Mariano Rivera might have fared in the Gossage era, and that’s his prodigious postseason record. During the regular season, along with those 603 saves, Mo has a 75-57 record and a lifetime ERA of 2.21—the best ever compiled in the live-ball era, depending on how you want to measure it—along with just 934 hits and 275 walks in 1,211.1 innings, and 1,111 strikeouts, figures so gaudy they’re almost absurd.

But in his postseason appearances, which by now have amounted to an extra season, or maybe two seasons, [it does amount to two extra seasons-at 70IP per season, total of 141 innings] of pitching, Rivera is even better…much better. Against the best teams in baseball, with everything at stake, he’s run up an 8-1 record, with 42 saves in 47 attempts, allowing 21 walks and 81 hits against 110 strikeouts
  • in 141 innings and compiling an ERA of 0.70.
Yet the most salient fact about all those playoff games is how dramatically Rivera changed his usual pitching habits in them.

You want seven outs? Mariano has provided four such appearances in the postseason; in none of them did he allow a run or an inherited runner to score. They included a couple of the most memorable playoff games in history; his coming out, a 3.1-inning victory over Seattle in the 1995 American League Division Series, and the three unforgettable innings he pitched to win the Aaron Boone game” against Boston in
  • the ALCS finale in 2003.
You want two-inning appearances? Rivera has run up 29 of those in the postseason, garnering four wins, 14 saves, and three holds.

You want more than one inning? Mo has another 24 one-inning-plus playoff appearances to his credit, earning another 16 saves and a hold.

In other words, 57 of Rivera’s 96 playoff appearances have been for more than one inning. In them, he has run up half of his
  • eight postseason wins and
almost three-quarters of his 42 postseason saves. 

You want inherited runners? In nearly a third of his playoff appearances—30 out of 96—Rivera has entered the game with runners on base; a total of 48 of them,
  • 14 of them on second, 11 on third.
He has prevented all but eight of them—or one-sixth—from scoring. 

And yes, he’s come into postseason games with the bases loaded. He did it in his first year in the playoffs against Seattle, age 25, and he did it just this fall, in the ALDS against Detroit, age nearly 42.
  • In each case, he struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Gossage’s record in the playoffs, while much more abbreviated, is also outstanding. In 19 appearances, he had two wins and eight saves, with an ERA of 2.87, and 21 hits, 10 walks, and 29 strikeouts in 31.1 innings. He inherited runners on six different occasions, ten in all, and allowed only one to score. In 1981, easily his best postseason, the well-rested Goose did indeed come into the seventh inning of a game the Yankees were winning 1-0, in the second game of the special ALDS that year, and retired Robin Yount and Cecil Cooper in a bravura performance.

That was the only time he ever did it. But he also managed to blow three of eleven save opportunities in his postseason career, as well as effectively taking San Diego out of that last game of the 1984 World Series. In 1980, he wouldn’t have even had to face George Brett had he not given up a two-out single to Royals’ shortstop U.L. Washington (who’s “embarrassed” now?).

Yet somehow these blips have dropped from most sportswriters’ memories, while one after another
  • felt obliged to bring up the fact that Rivera “had his failures in the postseason,
  • almost as if he were the Greg Norman of relief pitching.
It’s instructive to take a look at those “failures.” Mariano has blown all of five saves in the postseason. One of these was Sandy Alomar’s famous, opposite-field home run in the 1997 ALDS that barely cleared the right-field fence—
  • and only tied Game Five of that series.
One was the even more famous Yankees meltdown in the seventh game of the 2001 World Series, where Mo—after pitching a scoreless eighth inningwas victimized more by the fielding of himself and his teammates than his pitching (and when Joe Torre foolishly decided to move his infield in, behind a pitcher who specialized in weak pop-ups to the near outfield).

The other three came within a space of 13 days in the 2004 playoffs, after a season in which Rivera had set career marks in appearances and saves, with 69 and 53, respectively. In the midst of this period,
  • he had to make a hurried flight to Panama and back to deal with the tragic death of his cousins in a pool accident.
Nonetheless, Joe “Breaker of Pitchers” Torre decided to call on Rivera seven times in this span, including three two-inning stints and three more of five or six outs. One of the blown saves was when Rivera gave up the tying runs to the Twins in the ALDS, in a game the Yanks later won in extra innings.

The other two, of course, came against Boston. One was Game Five of the ALCS, in which Mo gave up a sacrifice fly to tie the game after coming in men on first and third—something that tells you most of what you need to know about the problems with the save statistic. The other was the famous “Dave Roberts game”
  • although here again, Rivera,
  • in his second inning of work, gave up the tying but not the winning run.
In other words, in 96 tries, Mariano River has never given up an earned run that lost a ballgame in the postseason. Used as he was “supposed” to be used—that is, the way he was used through most of the season, brought in at the start of the ninth inning—he has never surrendered a lead in he postseason, period. The only postseason contest where Rivera was really even hit hard was Game Two of the 2000 World Series against the Mets when, rushed in to save a floundering Jeff Nelson, he gave up a two-run homer to Jay Payton, and nearly another one to Todd Zeile. The Mets almost broke through—almost.

Throughout his career, Mariano Rivera has been the most brilliant of weapons, a stiletto expertly applied to win a great many ballgames with his one, unhittable pitch. What he has done is unique in the history not just of baseball, but all athletics:

appearing for a decade-and-a-half, only when the game is on the line, and succeeding nine times out of ten in preserving victory.
  • No other athlete in a team sport has ever performed so consistently under pressure.
Yet when jerked out of the security of his usual role and used in a very different role—when his managers have tried to use the stiletto as a meat axe—he has actually picked up his game. Taxed beyond his usual endurance, at the end of a long and wearing season, and against the best teams and hitters in the game
  • he has performed better than ever.
If they want to contribute something, Goose Gossage and Greg Couch should take up the worthy cause of getting some of Goose’s other contemporaries into the Hall with him (Sparky Lyle, anyone?). In trying to denigrate what Mariano Rivera has accomplished,
  • they only make themselves look foolish."
-----------------------------
  • Among comments to BP on the above article:
10/31/11, "randolph3030 (17064)"

"Couldn't agree more. I would love to be able to love Goose, but he's such a jerk about Rivera it makes it hard. One big difference between the workloads of the two pitchers is the quality of the batter faced. In the 70s and 80s relatively few hitters were able to punish a pitcher in comparison those of the 90s and 00s. Rivera has been amazing during in an era when middle-infielders hit 30/40/50 homeruns in a season. Most of the SS that Goose faced didn't hit 50 in a career. I never could figure out a proper way to frame a study of results vs. top quality opposition to see who fared better against the best opponents. Results vs. players with OPS+;100? Per season? Per career?"
  • ------------------------
"delatopia (19303) 

To me this article is a perfect example of the difference between daily journalism and reflective, non-deadline sites like BP. Not defending Couch's point of view, the angle he took or the correctness of his pronouncements, which I think are seriously flawed, but the guy probably has to file three or maybe even four columns a week -- a pace I'd never want to operate at. When you've got to fill the maw of a beast that's never full, you're going to go oftentimes for the column that generates the most reaction while also being the easiest to file -- call the loquacious Gossage, do a little research, spend a couple of hours over the keyboard letting beads of blood form on your forehead (was that Red Smith's quote?), and that's one column down. Of the three that your job requires that week. That being said, those columns should be taken apart (as was done most excellently here), if only to correct the record and add a dissenting view in the marketplace of ideas. I don't like that newspapers and websites demand so much of their columnists. But I think it does mitigate the situation somewhat to understand what those guys are up against, and take these things with a grain of salt."

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11 related links:

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1. 1/6/2006, "It's an insult to me to even be compared to Mariano Rivera, it really is....The job is easy compared to what we used to do. It's apples and oranges." "Gossage beyond compare," Denver Post, Jim Armstrong

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2. 1/5/2008--Gossage admits he had it easier than pitchers in the 1990s and 2000s:

"Gossage's strong opinions have not been limited to his own career. He thinks there ought to be some method of denoting in baseball's history books that offense increased in the 1990s and 2000s, partly because of smaller ballparks, tightly wrapped baseballs and a shrinking strike zone." (6th parag. from end). "Goose Gossage hopes Hall of Fame vote provides relief," AP via ESPN

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57 of Rivera's 96 post season appearances from 1995 ALDS through 2011 ALDS were multi-inning. Against the game's best hitters, under the greatest pressure, when most other relief pitchers were resting up to pad the next year's regular season stats:

3. 10/25/2001--CNN/SI.com, "Rivera Like Closers of Old," Jacob Luft, and here. 
(The original link to the 2001 CNN/SI piece appears to be dead. I copied it in Jan. 2008)

"In an era when closers often come with a "Handle with Care" label, Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera is a true throwback.
  • Most managers pamper their high-priced closers, bringing them in for the last three outs of a game after an unheralded setup guy wiggles out of the eighth-inning jam.
The inflated save totals end up devaluing the statistic, making a 30-save season seem downright pedestrian, if not easy.
  • But Rivera in October is different.
  • He's Rollie Fingers without the handlebar mustache,
  • Goose Gossage without the showmanship.
Rivera has the most postseason saves in history with 23 [as of Oct. 2001]. And that's not a soft 23, either, with 17 of them demanding more than one inning of work."... 

Note: Rivera ended his career in 2013 with 42 postseason saves, 8 postseason Wins, and 1 postseason loss.
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4. 7/15/2010, "Just How good is Mariano Rivera," by Dr. Michael Hoban, Seamheads.com

Mariano Rivera is the best reliever in baseball history.” [Based on regular season only].

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5. 2007 book: "At this point in his career, Mo Rivera is way ahead of the HOF standard and could emerge as the greatest relief pitcher to date." BASEBALL’S BEST: The TRUE Hall of Famers," by Michael Hoban, Ph.D. "Chapter 11, Two Special Categories of Pitchers," "Now, what about the true relief pitchers, that is, those who had very few (or no) starts and spent the bulk of their careers in relief? Is there any way that we can arrive at a fair standard for HOF induction for these pitchers based strictly on the numbers? Of course, we need a tough standard that only the truly outstanding relievers will meet." [This study didn't include post season or All Star].

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6. 9/20/2011, "The Best Reliever of All Time, Mariano Rivera," FanGraphs, Steve Slowinski [Based on regular season only]

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7. 4/25/2012, "A lot of times, people don't understand mentally and physically how you have to overextend when you go to the playoffs and World Series," (Dusty) Baker said. "You're still pitching while everybody else is home resting. That's a lot more. And you have less time to recover for next year. You have a shorter winter. Winning takes its toll, big time. There's nothing better than that, but it takes its toll."" "7 closers on DL, showing it's a high-risk job," AP, Joe Kay
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8. Joe Maddon: "He's (Rivera) the best closer in the history of our game." NY Times, 5/4/2012

"His (Rivera's) ability to pitch multiple innings in October, the way the pioneering closers did, has made him invaluable."...NY Times

5/4/2012, "For Rivera, Maestro of Ninth, Injury Is Not Final Symphony," NY Times, Tyler Kepner

"Mattingly added: “I’d hate to see him end like this. I’d rather see him come back and pitch than thinking your last view of him is going down on the track.”

Joe Maddon, the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, had a similar reaction.

It upsets me,” Maddon said in St. Petersburg, Fla. “He is a very special person. You know that the moment you meet him. He’s the best closer in the history of our game. You don’t want to see him possibly ending his career shagging a fly in Kansas City. I think he’s the player most responsible for their success over the last 15 years.”

Unquestionably, as Maddon said, Rivera is the best closer ever. His 2.21 [regular season] career earned run average is the lowest, with a minimum of 1,000 innings, since 1920, and he is even better when the games matter most.

Rivera’s postseason E.R.A. is 0.70. He has not allowed a postseason homer since the 2000 World Series. His (Rivera's) ability to pitch multiple innings in October, the way the pioneering closers did, has made him invaluable."

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9. 3/6/2010, "Pinstripes Then, Now and Forever," NY Times, Joe Brescia

"A.(Gossage): When I was inducted into the Hall of Fame, I was told that I had 53 saves with seven-plus outs. I was told that Mariano had one and Trevor Hoffman had two. So I think that says it in a nutshell.

Q. (NY Times): How do you think you would do if you were closing games today?

A. It’s hard to say what my statistics would be if I was used for only one inning like these guys. I had longevity. When I got a one-inning save, I felt guilty. Guys would kid me: You’re going to take that? Does that count?”"

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10. In his 1984 World Series deciding game 5, 10/14/1984, , Gossage wasn't asked to protect a lead, just to keep his Padres team close as it trailed 4-3, but he gave up two home runs to the Tigers, one in the bottom of the 7th (which he entered with one out and bases empty), and one in the bottom of the 8th with two men on--both put on by Gossage. His name wasn't involved in the decision. He entered in the 7th Gossage gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Lance Parrish, making the score 5-3. Gossage came back in the 8th (bases empty), Padres trailing 5-4, facing hitters 9-1-2. He walked the first batter, put a second batter on, and gave up a 3 run home run to his 4th batter, Kirk Gibson making the score 8-4 which became the final score.

He appeared in only two of the five 1984 World Series games, in neither case was he asked to protect a lead and both of which his team lost. His season ended on Oct. 14, 1984 so he didn't experience the "abuse" of shorter off seasons and recovery times pitchers later did. For example Rivera's 2009 World Series didn't end until  Nov. 4.

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Talk to most players, and they will tell you that Rivera has been the most important stripe forming the pinstriped dynasty of the 1990s and 2000s. More than Derek Jeter. More than Andy Pettitte. More than Jorge Posada. More than Bernie Williams.

There is no equal.

"It's a huge psychological advantage when you've got a guy like Mariano and a great setup corps," Gossage said, "to know that it's a six-inning ballgame. You've got the lead, and it's over."

In the 2009 postseason, Boston's Jonathan Papelbon, Minnesota's Joe Nathan, the Angels' Brian Fuentes, Colorado's Huston Street, the Cardinals' Ryan Franklin and the Dodgers' Jonathan Broxton all blew save chances.

Rivera? He went 5 for 5 [pitched a total of 16 innings in the 2009 post season which didn't end until Nov. 4]. Philadelphia's Brad Lidge, with three saves, was the only other closer without a blemish.

"That is so incredible. To be able to do it at that level, with that pressure. Try to do it in that environment, in New York, with them expecting to go to the playoffs every year," Eckerlsey said.

"He's made differently. There's a calm to him. And because of that, there's a calm to the team.""

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Comment: Goose Gossage has gotten himself 11+ years of media headlines by spewing hatred and making defamatory statements about Mariano Rivera. Just the role model for kids. With help from Gossage partners the Yankees and the media, we're to believe that 11 years of sick, slanderous, and misleading claims are worth continued attention. We're told Gossage is "outspoken," and a "quote machine." This apparently means that whatever he says is cool and fine, even exciting, and we're supposed to shut up or better yet, marvel at the man spewing the hate. Has it occurred to his enablers that Gossage's long running obsession is a sign of serious mental or emotional problems? No matter, Gossage has been given a full time second career by the Yankees and the media ("the conscience of the game"). The purpose of the 2nd career is twofold: to elevate the perceived skill and genius of Gossage's baseball career and to defame and diminish those of Mariano Rivera.

In all the "exciting" years of Gossage headlines one never hears about Rivera's 141 post season innings against the best hitters and under the greatest pressure. Aside from the results he obtained including a .70 ERA, the most ignored fact about these innings is they were sandwiched into the same calendar years in which the separate 'career' stats are obtained. But they're not added to regular season stats. These are calendar years in which Rivera had shorter off seasons and less time to recover than others. These 141 innings equal two additional years of relief pitching at 70 innings per year. For the record, Gossage has 31.1 post season innings, a postseason ERA of 2.87, and he gave up 3 home runs--one every ten innings. In Rivera's 141 post season innings he gave up only 2 home runs--one every 70 innings. 57 of Rivera's 96 post season appearances from 1995 ALDS through 2011 ALDS were multi-inning appearances.

Yankee management is of course Gossage's biggest enabler. They invite him to spring training. Like clockwork: he bashes Rivera, says it's "insulting" to be compared to him, and the media runs and puts Gossage's name and his "news" in headlines. A stray headline might say Goose should just shut up or some such, but every article and every mention in print, internet, radio, and television, rings the Gossage cash register. When 2019 HOF voting rolls around, Gossage's voting pals will have absorbed 13+ years of hate. Votes will be public, people who don't normally get much attention will get lots of it.

If you just write what he says--controversy and negativity sell--you've done your job without doing any actual work. If the media wants to do some meaningful or even helpful reporting (which may not be possible in its existing business model), they could ask the question why after 11+ years of bashing Rivera, should Gossage (or anyone) continue to be given the spotlight and quoted by baseball media? Why should such a person be allowed on Yankee property ever again, much less invited to Yankee spring training? He can come to Old Timers Day, but if he's not able to remain silent about Rivera he should no longer be allowed on Yankee property.

Yankee management may not care, but remaining Yankee fans are very much aware that there's no more "dynasty," no more "Core Four," no more November baseball, no more excitement, and none expected for the rest of many of our lifetimes. It wasn't the Yankee brand that enabled Yankee owners to build the new Stadium. In the mid to late 1990s, George Steinbrenner still thought that the only way to build Yankee Stadium attendance was to move the Stadium to Manhattan. What finally built Yankee Stadium attendance in the old Stadium was winning dramatically in the post season in grinding, clutch performances. That's all long gone in 2017. For me, the only excitement on the horizon is seeing Alex Rodriguez as a guest instructor.

On top of losing our special team, we have a team management that allows an endless hate campaign against one of our lost heroes, Mariano Rivera, who's probably more responsible for the new Yankee Stadium than any other single player.



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