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Shaq didn’t know who Mariano Rivera was (Video)

Mariano RiveraShaquille O’Neal must not watch much — if any — baseball. Any casual baseball fan can tell you who Mariano Rivera is. The former New York Yankees closer is considered by many to be the best relief pitcher of all time. During Tuesday night’s edition of “Inside the NBA,” Ernie Johnson explained how Shaq has no idea who Rivera is.

Back when Rivera blew out his knee shagging fly balls, the “Inside the NBA” crew sent him a get well letter. Shaq signed the letter, but he still barely recognized Rivera when he bumped into him in New York on Tuesday morning.

“So he bumps into Rivera in New York this morning and Rivera says, ‘Hey, say hi to the guys back in Atlanta,'” Johnson explained. “And Shaq (tells us), ‘I ran into that great closer, Rafael Nugero, today.'”

Shaq and the rest of the crew found this hilarious.

“I remembered the face I just couldn’t think of the name,” Shaq said. “Sorry.”

As LB mentioned before, Tuesday was an absolute banner day for the big fella. Shaq managed to hilariously confuse a pierogi for a kielbasa, stuff a sock in his shorts and rub it on Charles Barkley, and admit he doesn’t know who the greatest closer of all time is all in a single day. Nicely done.

Mariano Rivera in new book questions Robinson Cano’s desire, would pick Dustin Pedroia

Mariano RiveraMariano Rivera in his new autobiography “The Closer,” raises some eyebrows when sharing his thoughts on former teammate Robinson Cano.

Rivera, who pitched 19 seasons and is known as the best closer in baseball history, was never considered a trash talker, so we’re not really taking his comments as anything other than an honest assessment. The New York Daily News says that in his book, Mo expressed love for Cano but questioned the second baseman’s desire to be great.

“This guy has so much talent I don’t know where to start… There is no doubt that he is a Hall-of-Fame caliber (player). It’s just a question of whether he finds the drive you need to get there. I don’t think Robby burns to be the best… You don’t see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players.”

What makes that significant? Before the season, Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long took some heat for saying that Cano didn’t hustle enough. This sort of sits in a similar theme.

In contrast to describing Cano’s desire, Rivera apparently showed a great fondness for rival second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

As for his favorite second baseman, Rivera says Red Sox Dustin Pedroia is “at the top of the list” of players he admires, adding: “Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for twenty-seven outs. It’s a special thing to see.”

He later writes, “If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman.”

It’s probably hard for Yankees fans to hear one of their franchise legends be so complimentary of a rival player, but deep down, it’s hard to disagree with him about Pedroia. Everyone knows what a great player Pedroia is and how hard he goes. It’s not exactly news for Rivera to say it, it’s just surprising to hear that from a Yankee.

Also in the book, Rivera said he felt like Derek Jeter returned last year from his ankle injury earlier than he should have and that Jeter never looked quite right during spring training. He says a part of the reason for this is because Jeter is so driven and motivated that it blinded him in his comeback case.

Street outside Yankee Stadium renamed to honor Mariano Rivera (Video)

rivera-avenueMariano Rivera’s farewell tour and Hall of Fame career came to an end in 2013, but the honors and recognition of his great career continue.

Late last year, a campaign was started by a longtime Yankees fan to have a street near Yankee Stadium renamed in honor of Mariano Rivera. In December, New York City council voted 47-0 in favor of making the change.

On Monday, the street formerly known as River Avenue gained an additional letter, becoming Rivera Avenue.

“I thank you for every effort you guys have made,” Rivera said in closing via MLB.com. “All the businesses around here at 161st and River Avenue — Rivera Avenue now — thank you. Thank you very much.”

Photo/Video via Instagram/YES Network

Mariano Rivera says he would get Derek Jeter a life-sized doll for Christmas so he has a wife

Derek-Jeter-YankeesNew York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is one of the most eligible bachelors in America. He has dated some of the most beautiful women in the world (Minka Kelly, Mariah Carey and Jessica Alba are a few that come to mind), but the 39-year-old has never been married. While some feel that makes him a genius, Mariano Rivera seems to think Jeter could use a wife around the holidays.

Rivera made some hilarious comments while handing out Christmas gifts for charity at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store on Wednesday. When asked what he would get Jeter for Christmas, the future Hall of Famer said he would get his former teammate a life-sized female doll “so he would have a wife.” Rivera was later asked if he had heard from Jeter in the wake of his wise crack.

“He hasn’t called me yet,” Rivera said with a smile, according to the NY Daily News. “He will.”

Mo was filled with jokes during the event, also saying he would get Robinson Cano a new contract for Christmas and “tell him to sign it.” He also said he would give manager Joe Girardi hair dye to hide all the gray hairs the Yankees have given him over the past several seasons. Rivera was his usual self — on fire.

As for Jeter, we all know he could have been married by now if that’s what he wanted. There was some recent speculation that he had proposed to girlfriend Hannah Davis, but that turned out to be untrue. As New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey reminded us during the season, Jeter is simply living the dream.

H/T SI Hot Clicks

Mariano Rivera was ready for retirement, had ‘no desire’ in September

Mariano-Rivera-injures-knee-shagging-fly-ballsMariano Rivera could still be a very effective closer if he chose to return to the New York Yankees for another season in 2014. The 43-year-old saved 44 games this season. He blew seven saves, though his 2.11 ERA was below his career ERA of 2.21. Still, all indications are that the Sandman has no intention of changing his mind.

In an upcoming documentary that will air on FOX this weekend called “BEING: Mariano Rivera,” the Yankee legend is shown having lunch in Boston with Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. He addressed his impending retirement while the cameras rolled.

“I can’t wait for the moment when this is over,” Rivera told Ortiz in Spanish, via the NY Post’s Page Six. “I’m ready for it already, brother. I’m ready for it. Mentally and physically, I’m ready for it. There’s no desire anymore.”

It had to have been incredibly difficult for Rivera to remain focused this season. Those of you who kept track of all the thoughtful gifts Mo received from teams around Major League Baseball can appreciate that he had to worry about a lot more than just pitching on game day. He became bigger than the game. As the greatest closer of all time, Rivera deserved it. That does not mean he was comfortable with it.

“We keep doing this for what?” Rivera added during his chat with Ortiz. “Is it for boastfulness, or for the love of the game, or because we don’t want to do anything else?”

For what it’s worth, Rivera may have worn down as his season — and likely career — came to a close. Five of his seven blown saves came during the final two months of the season, including back-to-back blown saves against the Red Sox in the series surrounding his lunch with Big Papi. Could Rivera come back and pitch effectively next season? There’s no doubt in my mind, but he seems perfectly at peace with his decision to call it a career.

Thanks to LBS reader David for the tip

Mariano Rivera cries after Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte come out for pitching change (Video)

There were some truly special scenes at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night as Mariano Rivera made his final career pitching appearance in the Bronx.

Rivera entered the game with runners on first and second and New York trailing the Tampa Bay Rays 4-0 in the top of the eighth. He retired the next two batters to get out of the jam. He then came back out for the ninth for an extra inning of work as he’s done so many times before. He got two outs before being lifted for Matt Daley.

Rivera’s stat line for his final appearance was flawless: 1.1 innings, 0 runs, 0 walks, 0 hits.

[Related: Mariano Rivera honored at All-Star Game with priceless entrance]

Manager Joe Girardi also had a brilliant idea for how Rivera would be pulled from his final home appearance. He had Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, two of the other members of the team’s “Core Four,” come to take the legendary closer out of the game. Jeter could be seen mouthing “time to go” at Rivera as he approached the mound. Pettitte and Rivera embraced first, leading Rivera to begin sobbing in the southpaw’s arms. Rivera continued to cry as he embraced Jeter.

After walking into the dugout where he gave hugs to all his coaches and teammates, Rivera came out for a curtain call.

Pettitte, who is also retiring after the season, later went out to give a curtain call and get an ovation from the fans.

[Also see: All retirement gifts Mariano Rivera received]

Rivera, Pettitte, Jeter, and Jorge Posada all were drafted by the Yankees, came up in the organization together, and made their MLB debuts in 1995. They won five World Series together. Posada retired after the 2011 season, while Rivera and Pettitte are retiring after this season. That leaves Jeter, the youngest of the bunch, as the remaining member of the Core Four. After seeing what happened with Rivera, you can only imagine what it will be like when Jeter hangs it up.

[Read more...]

Mariano Rivera retirement gifts: A look at what he received

Mariano Rivera tips capAs a show of respect for the greatest closer of all time, many MLB teams gave Mariano Rivera a unique retirement gift upon his last visit to their ballpark.

Rivera, 43, announced prior to the season that this would be his last year playing. His announcement gave teams plenty of time to plan what they would do to honor the legendary player. Most teams delivered with outstanding gifts.

Below is a look at all the retirement gifts Rivera received during his final MLB season. We have them grouped by division. The Yankees obviously went all out honoring Rivera. Their gifts and honors for him are listed on the final page.

On a personal note, Rivera has been one of my favorite players to watch over the years. His consistent excellence on the mound, respect for the game and overall behavior makes him a true model player and ambassador of the game.

GIFTS FROM AL CENTRAL TEAMS

[Read more...]

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