No. 42 and the chase for 601 • 01.12.11
Last spring, Mariano Rivera arrived in Tampa as a 40-year-old closer in the final year of his contract. There were, of course, early questions of how much longer Rivera planned to keep playing.
“If I know, if I’m sure, 100 percent that I can do it, I will do it,” he said.
Yesterday, Trevor Hoffman answered the retirement question for the final time. The 43-year-old had 10 saves and a 5.89 ERA last season. He was no longer sure he could do it.
“I expect to pitch at a certain level,” Hoffman said. “And I had to be honest with myself that I wasn’t certain I could maintain that anymore.”
With Hoffman’s retirement, Rivera has become the active saves leader, 42 away from Hoffman’s all-time record of 601.* There’s no other active closer within shouting distance of that mark, so it will be a very long time before another closer approaches Hoffman’s total. Assuming he stays healthy and productive, Rivera’s new two-year contract gives him time to break that record and further establish a legacy that quite honestly needs no further accolades.
I’m sure Rivera will say time and again that he’s perfectly indifferent about the record, but it’s going to be a fun to watch him go after it. And when he decides he’s finished, Rivera will do exactly what Hoffman has done and walk away.
“One day that will happen, and that day I will go,” Rivera said. “This is not mine. I will go and the baseball will not stop because I don’t play any more.”
* Seriously, how perfect is it that Hoffman has retired when Rivera — the last No. 42 in baseball — is exactly 42 saves away from the record? Obviously it’s nothing but a coincidence, but it’s a pretty cool coincidence.
The Sabathia’s started the PitCCh In Foundation, which does a ton of work for inner-city youth. They’ve also contributed to the Boys and Girls Club, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities and Strikeouts for Troops as well as several New York based groups. The Sabathia’s will receive the annual award at the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) Dinner on January 25 at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
CC was also named one of 10 finalists for the Jefferson Awards for Public Service. It’s given annually to athletes who display an exemplary commitment to service in their community.
A few links and notes from today.
• Jon Heyman once again says the Yankees are still interested in Rafael Soriano. He says Brian Fuentes is also a possibility. The Yankees would have to give up a first-round draft pick to sign Soriano, and they might have to outbid teams that offer ninth inning opportunities to Fuentes.
• Speaking of Heyman, he brings up the possibility of Johnny Damon going to Tampa Bay, leaving Desmond Jenings to open the season in Triple-A.
• All-times saves leader Trevor Hoffman has decided to retire. Mariano Rivera is 42 saves behind Hoffman. Rivera had 33 saves last season and 44 the year before. The fact the number 42 is involved here seems like a good sign, no?
• Brad Penny has agreed to a $3 million deal with the Tigers. At this point it’s easy to forget some of their early offseason moves, but Detroit has done quite a bit to rebuild its team.
• It doesn’t sound serious, but Josh Hamilton has been hospitalized with a case of pneumonia. He’s expected to be released within 24 hours.
• This afternoon — when I wasn’t breaking all of the incredible news surrounding the Yankees these days! — I checked the guide on my TV and found nothing worth watching. That’s when I started flipping through random television nonsense and stumbled upon some sort of live performance by The Shins. Turns out, it was an episode of the Gilmore Girls. Can’t make this stuff up.
Associated Press photo