Mariano Rivera is one of the greatest relief pitchers of all time. Dominating the opposition with a single pitch, it feels like he's been closing forever. However, if you take a look at the back of his baseball card, you'll see that he was actually a starting pitcher for a portion of his rookie year in 1995. In 1996, he was setting up then-closer John Wetteland. Rivera actually pitched better than Wetteland that year, and Wetteland left the Yankees at the end of the season to join the Texas Rangers. In stepped Rivera, and 636 saves later, he will be retiring at the end of this year as the pitcher many would consider to be the best closer of all time.
Typically when a superstar announces his retirement a full season early, he is showered with gifts from opposing teams while he's on the road. While the Twins did continue that trend by giving Rivera an absolutely hilarious gift...
... Rivera announced that he wanted to do something else instead. Rather than be on the receiving end of gifts, Rivera instead wanted to be the one doing the giving. He announced that at each stadium he would visit this year, he wanted to meet part of that team's "behind the scenes" staff, the group of people that did the thankless but necessary work for the team.
Rivera's visit to Minnesota this week meant that a lucky few would be given the opportunity to meet with the Yankees closer. From asking my boss at the Twins, he told me that the people chosen to see Rivera would all have worked for the team for over 20 years. As we found out in Jim Souhan's Star Tribune column, it would include ushers, chefs, even Sue the organist, and prior to Tuesday evening, Rivera met with these people.
I must say that I was impressed that Rivera did his homework on every person, and as the classy individual that he is, he seemed as interested in each and every person as they were with him. Although I definitely despise the Yankees organization, especially for owning the Twins for all of Ron Gardenhire's tenure, Rivera is one of the few Yankees that I respect and I hope that he has a relaxing and fulfilling retirement.
- Believe it or not, but we learned this week that it's possible for your team to get a walk-off hit - only to still lose the game. In a Single-A game between the Lansing Lugnuts and Great Lakes Coons, both teams were tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 9th with the Lugnuts batting. On a full count with 2 outs and the bases loaded, outfielder Chris Hawkins hit what appeared to be the game-winning single up the middle into center field. However, the runner on 1st base, catcher Santiago Nessy, failed to advance to second base and instead immediately joined the celebration on the infield. The Coons fielders noticed the gaffe and got the ball to second base, forcing out Nessy and preventing the winning run from scoring. The game ended up going to extra innings and the Lugnuts lost this game 5-4, a game they should have already won by the same score. If you know your baseball history, this is almost an exact copy of the Merkle's Boner play 105 years ago, where Fred Merkle of the New York Giants committed the same baserunning error against the Chicago Cubs. The Giants ended up losing the pennant by 1 game to the Cubs, who went on to win the 1908 World Series, their last championship between then and now. In Merkle's defense, it was common for umpires to ignore the force-out rule on walk-off hits, and fans also were on the field and had interfered with the ball while it was still in play, something the umpires either missed or ignored. At least Merkle has some excuses for his mistake. As for Santiago Nessy, all he can say is that he learned a new rule.
- Many Minnesota Twins fans have this annoying trait where they complain about Joe Mauer nonstop, even when he's having a successful season like he is this year. I don't know if any other players get the same treatment on a consistent basis, but for one day, Homer Bailey got the Joe Mauer treatment. Earlier this week, Bailey threw his second no-hitter of his career and both of them have come in the last 9 months. You'd think that everyone would be singing praises towards Bailey, but it appears that this is not the case. Over in Cincinnati, some select few of the media were not pleased with him, as shown by one guy refusing to give Bailey credit for his success (attributing a strikeout of Pablo Sandoval as a good hitter that chased a high fastball), another thinking of the children after Bailey swore on-air (when asked for his opinion of allowing a 7th inning walk to Gregor Blanco, the only baserunner against Bailey on the night), and one last guy that was upset that he was snuffed for an interview (radio announcer Marty Brennaman being turned down by Bailey). You'd think that such an accomplish would be met with endless praise, but apparently some think Homer Bailey still has some improvement that can be made. If you want to check out the entire coverage, go over to fellow SB Nation blog Red Reporter.
- We often call for umpires to be fired but it rarely happens. However, there is apparently one way that is guaranteed to get you fired, and Brian Runge figured out how. Okay, so he might not have been intentionally trying to become unemployed, but MLB did announce that he was let go after failing a drug test, and then failing to comply with an agreement that he had made with MLB. A commenter from the linked article suggested that the agreement was that Runge had to complete drug rehab but failed to do so. This hypothesis seems more plausible when you also notice that Runge had not umpired a single game this season, suggesting that he was indeed taking a leave of absence. Now if only there was a way to get rid of Joe West, Angel Hernandez, and C.B. Bucknor...
- Luke Scott is an Obama birther, sincere lover of the 2nd Amendment, and very likely a racist. His brother is also frightening, but for much bigger reasons... literally.
- Delmon Young says he would bat 1.000 save for the strikeouts if there were no fielders on the field. Herp derp, Demolition Delmon, but I bet Nick Punto could do the same thing.
- Chris Parmelee is making a habit of falling over fences to catch foul balls. No Parker Hageman with a "MOM MADE PIZZA ROLLS!" face here, but we do get to see some kids congratulate Parmelee on a job well done.
- Braves minor leaguer Adlen Carrithers sees Parmelee's catch over the fence and raises him a leap over a fence into the dugout. Excellent catch and I'm shocked his teammates didn't even try to break his fall. Though it looked very dangerous, Carrithers finished the game.