Thought you all may be interested in this feature on Rivera from the NYT 


Denis Bogan wrote:
> Indeed, he is the best ever at what he does.  For a while I held out 
> for Dennis Eckersley, the first modern closer.  He was great but not 
> as great as Riveira and not for nearly as long.  I have watched BB for 
> > 60 years and I admire great pitching more than anything else in the 
> game.  Without Riveira IMHO the Yankees win 1-2 championships in the 
> post 1990 era. 
> Before Eck, relievers were not last inning specialists.  Still further 
> back the "Save", the cheapest statistic in baseball, had not been 
> invented and relievers were judged by their W-L record, like everyone 
> else.  There were some remarkable relievers then although none can 
> match Riveira's record of sustained excellence.  In the late 50s Elroy 
> Face of the Pirates had an 18-1 record as a reliever and went 17-0 
> before losing a game.  In the early 60s Dick Radatz, the Monster of 
> the Fenway, won 15 or more for 3 years in a row in relief, pitching 
> for some truly bad teams.  One year he was 15-3.  He once won both 
> games of a double header in relief, pitching 2 scoreless innings in 
> the first and 7 in the second which the Red Sox won in 16 innings.  He 
> did not last long, as was the pattern for relievers in those days. 
> I came of age as a fan in the era of great pitching, Sandy Koufax, 
> best I ever saw, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, and many more.  Marichal, 
> least known of the 3 today, went head to head for 15 innings losing 
> 1-0 to 40 year old Warren Spahn in about 1963.  Spahn also went all 
> the way and if memory serves won his own game with a HR.  I believe 
> Spahn holds the ML career record for winning his own games with HRs, 
> as well as being the winningest left hander in history (363).  I 
> recently heard Marichal interviewed on NPR about that game.  A fan 
> told him later that he had thrown 175 pitches in that game.  Bob 
> Gibson went 22-7 in 1968, a very good but not outstanding stat in that 
> year when Denny McLain went 31-6.  However Gibson started 34 games and 
> COMPLETED 28 with a 1.12 ERA, best ever in the live ball era.  
> Gibson's will and temper were such that it was said managers were 
> afraid to go to the mound and ask him for the ball.  And, what hasn't 
> been said about Koufax?  He had a great fastball, and the best curve 
> ball I have ever seen, combined with great control.  Mechanics?  
> Nobody has good mechanics.  Because nobody looks like Koufax.  If you 
> are a fan and can see film of him in his prime, like the 1963 World 
> Series, you owe it to yourself to do it. 
> My favorite capsule summary of pitching comes from Greg Maddux whose 
> 355 wins are 1 more than Roger Clemens.  "Pitching is easy; all you 
> have to do is make all the balls look like strikes and all the strikes 
> look like balls."  Maddux was once asked how he could be so good when 
> he grew up in an ordinary family without an athltic tradition.  He 
> said he learned what he needed to know about pitching as a little kid 
> watching his dad in his job (one of many).  He was a blackjack dealer 
> in Vegas. 
> Here in DC we are all watching Steven Strasburg with bated breath. 
> Please forgive this ramble and any inaccuracies.  Check my facts if 
> you want.  I drew it all direct from the memory banks.  (BB fans are 
> like that.)
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