Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mariano Rivera shows his team some tough love

Mariano Rivera saved his team again last night. But he wasn't particularly happy about it.

In a post-game interview, the New York Yankees legendary closer talked about being his usual confident, composed self in getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the 10th inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks with two weak popups and a strikeout. He also cracked a big smile when talking about his 10th inning at bat that amused his teammates and got them all on the top step of the dugout. But that smile quickly disappeared when Kim Jones asked him about the Yankees winning what was a very ugly game in which they squandered multiple free passes and ran the bases like a couple of Little Leaguers.

"We pulled this game, but we played horrible," Rivera said. "It's unacceptable, the way that we played. We can't be playing games like that. We're better than that. We're supposed to do what is right in baseball.”

Rivera has always been more comfortable being seen rather than heard so it was shocking to hear him call out his teammates for what was a terrible game. But he was absolutely right. I was at that game yesterday and was incredibly frustrated watching the Yanks run themselves into extra outs in what was a horrible, slow-paced game. I had to leave for the airport to catch my flight back to New York and only heard Mo’s relief appearance on the radio so I missed seeing in person what was obviously the highlight of the game.

But to me, Mariano’s words spoke even louder than his actions last night. Getting some tough love from their future Hall of Fame closer was exactly the kick in the ass the Yankees needed. Despite their first-place standing, the Yankees have been inconsistent all year, playing like reigning champions one day and getting their butts kicked by inferior teams the next game. After last night, it was clear that Mo was tired of it and sent a message to his teammates to get their act together. I'm sure the message was received loud and clear.

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