On the other hand, Soriano compounded matters somewhat by ducking out of the clubhouse without talking to reporters, which will cause fire and brimstone to be rained down upon you even if you’re Albert Pujols. It’s the second time Soriano has done that in his tenure with the Yankees, and predictably enough the reaction has not been kind. It’s also been predictably silly, as demonstrated by this attempted indictment of Soriano by John Harper of the Daily News. Some choice nuggets:
The problem for Rafael Soriano is that no matter how superbly he has handled his current job, he’s not Mariano Rivera.
No, Rafael Soriano is not Mariano Rivera. I suppose there’s no arguing with that fact. This, however, isn’t really a problem for Soriano, in so much as no one is Mariano Rivera. I feel like I make this point every time we get these “how will the Yankees live after Mo?” bits, but if you take the premise that Rivera is the greatest closer of all-time seriously, it necessarily follows that every other relief pitcher is inferior to him. Therefore, if “not being Mo” is a problem for Soriano, it’s also a problem for everyone else, so let’s cede the point and call it a was, mmmkay?
And so when Soriano gives up a ninth-inning home run and blows a save in stunning fashion, as he did in Monday night’s 8-7 loss in 11 innings to the Blue Jays, Yankee fans can’t help but recall the image of Rivera crumpled on the warning track in Kansas City back in May.
Actually, this is the first time since last night I’ve thought about that. So thanks for that.
One thing for sure: Soriano doesn’t handle himself in defeat the way his predecessor did. Nobody was more accountable or classier when he did blow one than Rivera.
I really don’t have much patience for this kind of gibberish. Do you know what “classy” players do when they screw up? They feed you the most trite, meaningless, garble about “putting it behind us” and “getting it back tomorrow” that the writers of Bull Durham wouldn’t have even put them into the “cliches” scene, and then they go out, do whatever they do after any other game, and cash their checks when they come around. It’s not like Mariano Rivera would have stood in front of his locker teary eyed and contrite, begging the fans and David Phelps/Robinson Cano to forgive him for having an off night or something. No one needs that, and if you actually care about these things as a fan, you probably need to consider counseling or finding another hobby.
Of course, I don’t think very many fans actually care about it, and if it didn’t get flogged in the papers I don’t think hardly anyone would even notice it. And that’s sort of the rub: reporters care a lot about being stiffed by players, because it is a legitimate problem for them. If players don’t talk to them, they can’t get quotes to fill their stories. That makes their job a little bit harder in the short term, but if it happens too often, their editors might notice that they don’t actually need those quotes to make good copy, and if too many editors decide that they don’t really need the only thing that makes the contemporary beat writer stand out, then suddenly you’re looking at the possibility of a drastic overhaul and downsizing in those jobs. I’m not saying that the writers are explicitly creating a mountain out a molehill to protect their guild or anything, but I definitely think there’s at least a subconscious impulse to it. The human brain is pretty good at identifying and responding to threats to our well being, and I would imagine that newspaper writers are as attuned to threats to their jobs as anyone these days.
Anyway, Soriano will probably get a talking too from the brass today (creating media firestorms is Brian Cashman’s job Rafi), and he’ll have to issue a hollow and insincere apology, after which everyone will move on and forget it by Friday. Until the next time someone skips out on dealing with reporters after a bad game.