Of course it’s ridiculous.
After the career he’s had of unprecedented reliability—especially when it’s mattered most—Mariano Rivera has about eight years worth of capital built up to slump for a week or more.
So he’s allowed homers in consecutive appearances; he blew a game against the Red Sox on Sunday and the Angels on Tuesday and almost another one today.
Does that justify the likes of Mike Francesa pulling the word “statistics” without any actual numbers to suggest that Rivera’s “slowing down”?
It sounded as if Francesa was saying to check out Rivera’s stats without, y’konw, looking at them himself or realizing that it’s no longer a nuisance of endless research to find such things.
If you truly look at Rivera’s advanced stats and compare his overall production he’s been around equal or better than his career averages in the meaningful categories.
I’ll leave the stats to others and the posterior talk to Francesa.
What I’ll say is this, Rivera has been so consistent and reliable that he’s perceived as indestructible; a Superman; an automatic.
He’s none of those things.
Almost, but not quite.
He’s a human being who’s doing a very difficult job against the best talent in the world; he’s 41-years-old; and the image of his greatness has been exacerbated by the rampant unreliability inherent with just about every other team’s closer and that he’s been brilliant when the money is on the line in the post-season.
We can debate forever the “fireman” job description of today in comparison to what closers of yesteryear had to do. Had Rivera been asked to do what Goose Gossage, Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter did by pitching as early as the 6th inning, there would be a fair side-by-side basis to say who was the “best”.
But you can’t quantify it. You can examine opposition, ballparks and advanced statistics and extrapolate; but the durability questions, number of innings pitched and how hard they had to work will never be accurately judged.
In this era, Rivera is the best.
He’s had a few bad games this week and will be fine in spite of Francesa’s imagination for affect and the Yankees fans’ feigning of stunned disbelief that their Sandman is mortal—as if they didn’t already know.