All eyes were on Mariano Rivera as he walked into the conference room at Steiner Sports Headquarters on Saturday afternoon. He smiled, greeted some friends that were in attendance, and took a seat front and center for a Q&A session.
After speaking briefly about his charitable work in the New Rochelle community, his ability to make a baseball glove out of cardboard, his thoughts on the recent passing of Muhammad Ali, and whether or not he misses the game, Rivera took a handful of questions from the audience.
Mo was asked what he thought of the Yankees’ current bullpen, which of course featured the three-headed monster of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. “Chapman is a guy that throws 100 mph! plus!” Rivera said. “I don’t know how it feels to do that because I’ve never thrown 100 mph! But I’m glad he’s on the team.”
Rivera was also asked about CC Sabathia and his newfound success this season after struggling for the last couple of years. “I like what I’m seeing [from CC]. He’s trusting his stuff. In order to be successful he needs to trust what he has.” Rivera compared Sabathia to Mike Mussina, who won a career high 20 games in his final season in 2008 throwing no more than 89 mph.
Rivera touched on how his famous cutter came to be. After the Yankees decided to make him the closer going into the 1997 season, Rivera was throwing with Ramiro Mendoza when all of a sudden the ball began to move. Rivera attributes a higher power with giving him the gift. “The Lord gave me that pitch. It was not Mel [Stottlemyre]. No teammate of mine, and myself, neither. I was working to make the ball stop from moving.”
Mariano noted that although hitters knew the pitch was coming, it was still impossible to hit. “They knew the pitch was coming and they still could not hit it. The best of the best. For 17 years. I threw that pitch 99.9 percent of the time,” he said.
Mo was asked to gave his thoughts on what Bartolo Colon‘s been able to accomplish in his career at his advanced age, as well as what went through his mind during game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Red Sox (one of my favorite Mariano moments, so I had to ask).