- "From here on in, Mariano Rivera is not the CLOSER. He is the FIREMAN. Like the days of Sparky Lyle and Goose Gossage, I want Joe to bring in Mariano for the most important outs...not the last three outs.
- Crazy you say? Is it any crazier than the fact that Mariano didn't even make it into the game? Or the fact that with the game in the balance, Proctor was your man?"
First, the last 3 outs have to be part of the picture for Rivera. They often are the hardest, so don't exclude them. You cannot win without a good closer, but if you want to expand the role and call him a "Fireman," fine. Mo has expanded the modern role of the closer anyway, making his greatest mark being available for more than 1 inning, including his 112 2/3 post season innings. Some teams use closers just to hype awards & accumulate cheap saves. It has worked well marketing those teams. Unfortunately for Mariano, the Yankees haven't been a team with a luxurious bullpen. They've had to lean on him for the most grueling, difficult games.
- Rivera, Sparky Lyle and Goose Gossage have all actually won the 'FIREMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD' given by The Sporting News since 1960. The award's name was changed to 'Reliever of the Year' in 2001 TO APPROPRIATELY RECOGNIZE GREAT RELIEVERS, NOT JUST CLOSERS. (They must've seen how the "total save stat" was being manipulated by some managers as mentioned by Ken Rosenthal during the Fox game on Saturday, May 26 and noted on this blog. sm)
If you rely on ESPN or the BBWAA for news, you won't
know about this award.
- Mariano Rivera, 5x winner Fireman/Reliever of the Year
- Goose Gossage, 2x winner Fireman of the Year
- Sparky Lyle, 1x winner Fireman of the Year
Mr. Balsamini's idea has been broached in a general way by others, but his suggestion for its use in this particular situation at this moment in time is quite helpful. From his Staten Island Advance article, 5/27/07.