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Goose Gossage really shouldn’t be disparaging Mariano Rivera

Mar 11, 2013, 10:36 AM EDT


Over the weekend Goose Gossage — while prefacing every statement with the caveat that he was not taking anything away from Mariano Riverasaid a lot of stuff that pretty clearly suggested that he was taking things away from Mariano Rivera.  The upshot: he’s a good one inning closer, that Mo, but back in my day we closed out games for three innings. Uphill. Both ways.

Which, yes, there is truth to the notion that relievers of the 70s and into the 80s were used very differently than they are today. And, in my view, I think a lot of these guys such as John Hiller, Dan Quisenberry and even Gossage to some degree are undersold.

But go read what Joe Posnanski wrote on the topic yesterday before you give Gossage his due for telling the one-inning closers to get off his lawn.  Specifically: (a) that for as much as Gossage wants to play up his iron man credentials, he really was done with that kind of work in the first half of his career and spent the second half being used much more like a modern closer; and (b) no matter what you can say about the usage patterns, it is undeniable that Rivera has been far, far better a pitcher in his career than Gossage was in his.

This shouldn’t be debatable. Mariano Rivera was the best of all time, in my view. He is of the same kind as the modern closer, but he is in such a different class than his peers that it’s comical.

As is most of what Gossage says these days about pretty much everything, but you didn’t need me to tell you that.

  1. stoutfiles - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    “it is undeniable that Rivera has been far, far better a pitcher in his career than Gossage was in his.”

    Well yeah, because he pitched one inning. Rivera uses up all he has in that one inning, he couldn’t go three+ without horrible numbers. Why do you think he’s a closer instead of a starter?

    Rivera was great, but people hype up the closer role to laughable levels. A starting pitcher or everyday player is more important. Rivera is at the level of a great DH or utility player.

    • oasiserfede - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      *People hype up the closer role*. That would have sufficed.

      • stoutfiles - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:07 PM

        Clearly not, everyone here is still going on about how he’s the greatest pitcher ever. If we took the greatest starting pitchers of all time and put them in the closer role Rivera wouldn’t even be in the picture. Let Verlander go out there and throw 100+ for one inning every three games.

      • oasiserfede - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        Noone is saying Mo is greatest pitcher ever, but the greatest reliever. The fact that Gossage sometimes was used differently than Mo was, doesn’t change that.

      • stoutfiles - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:06 PM

        “Noone is saying Mo is greatest pitcher ever”

        You haven’t read some of the comments below then. A lot of people are, because they see the ERA and WHIP and just assume he’s the greatest, ignoring the innings he pitches per year and the beneficial position in which he appears by being a closer.

      • oasiserfede - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:19 PM

        I’m sorry, you’re seeing things, that are not there. I see 2 posts that maybe could be considered questionable but nothing else, not even the occasional fanboy-post.

    • samu0034 - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:02 AM

      What’s your point again? Rivera has a job, a job for which his skills and talents make him particularly suitable. At his job he is almost unquestionably the greatest of all time. Is it his fault that usage patterns for his position made it more likely that he would be used in the 9th-Inning than in the highest leverage inning? No, it’s not. Does his position being inherently less valuable than an every day player or starting pitcher take away from his value at the position he actually played? No, it does not.

      Put a sock in it, stoutfiles.

      • stoutfiles - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:05 PM

        Actually, it does, because people are declaring him the best pitcher of all time and that he should be voted into the hall unanimously.

        He is a great pitcher but he is a closer. He comes in for one inning and throws his best stuff against a tired lineup. He is not as valuable as a starting pitcher and should be treated as such when compared to other pitchers.

    • Roger Moore - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      Maybe a starting pitcher is more valuable than an equally good reliever, but Rivera has been better- or at least more effective- than any starting pitcher in history, and it’s not even close. Inning per inning, he’s completely blows away any starter you can think of. And he may not have pitched as many innings as a good starter, but they almost all came with the game on the line. Combine those two things, and Rivera is a very valuable pitcher.

      • stoutfiles - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:10 PM

        He pitches one inning against a tired lineup. He is at his best the whole time.

        A starting pitcher pitches 7 innings against a fresh lineup and gets weaker every inning.

        It is NOT a fair comparison. If Rivera could have done what a starting pitcher, they would have had him start. He did not have the strength/stanima to do it for longer than a few innings.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Well yeah, because he pitched one inning. Rivera uses up all he has in that one inning, he couldn’t go three+ without horrible numbers. Why do you think he’s a closer instead of a starter?

      Gossage, once he was converted to a reliever full time – 17 years, averaging 72 IP
      Rivera – full time closer (since he did a fireman year*) – 15 years, averaging 69 IP

      While Gossage was used more in a game, Rivera pitched in more games each year (64 vs 48).

      *The year more was a setup man to Wetteland, he pitched 107.2 IP with his highest K/9 (10.9) and a sub 1 WHIP (.994). Do we really think he wouldn’t have been able to keep that up, considering how well he pitched the remainder of his career? He wasn’t built on blowing people away, it’s movement and location.

      • stoutfiles - Mar 11, 2013 at 2:58 PM

        If Rivera could have been a starting pitcher, he would have been. Starting pitching is more important than relief pitching. The reason he wasn’t is because he couldn’t keep it up over multiple innings.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 11, 2013 at 8:02 PM

        And some people say cucumbers taste better pickled. What does what you said have to do with comparing Gossage and Rivera?

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      Goose is a great player, he should remember the Mo didn’t make the rules, he
      just does his job, almost every time out and when you get him, he tips his cap and he
      admits he didn’t do his job.

      Maybe Mo doesn’t have as many innings per save as Goose would like, but I know
      when he enters, game over!

    • gwdowd61gmoney61 - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:48 PM

      Mo is the greatest of all time – no question. But remember that he blew TWO historic saves. One lost World Series. The other a pivotal and historic ALCS. Why does he get a pass on that??

      • raybrower - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:57 PM

        Because they were only two games.

      • oasiserfede - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:01 PM


        Because at the end of the day, it really doesn’t detract anything from a great career. Mo pitched in a lot of high-pressure situations and being a baseball player he would inevitably fail on a few occasions.

      • stoutfiles - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:02 PM

        Because everyone loves Mo like they love Griffey. Big difference is that Griffey was an everyday player while Mo came out throwing for one inning against a tired lineup.

      • danderoo - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:10 PM

        By the tone of your comment, Mo does not get a pass on those failures. How about giving the opposing team some credit for persevering? The opposing hitters are major league players, capable of hitting against the best. It happens, even to the best relievers in the game. You need to put a lid on your righteous indignation, its unbecoming of your handle, gmoney61,

      • fanofevilempire - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:15 PM

        I actually did type it and erased it.

        2. and when he threw the ball to Bernie in Center that night in Arizona.

        I erased it because as I was typing it I was thinking he never runs from
        those two saves, they probably motivate him.

    • dwdive - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      What this writer and YOU fail to realize, is that Mo pitched multiple innings for most of his career. When he 1st came up with the Yanks, he was behind a great closer, and he would pitch 2-3 innings to get to Wetteland. So yeah, he was more than a 1 inning pitcher. Then once he got the closers job, he would pitch the 8th and 9th innings. It’s not until recently they only use him for one inning. even in the 2009 season he had numerous saves that were more than an inning. Mo is the greatest relief pitcher of all time. More guys walked on the moon (12) than scored on Mo in the playoffs (11). I’m not even a Yanks fan, and I know better than to bad mouth this guys in ANT way. Goose should be ashamed of himself, he’s not even in the same class as Mo.

      • stoutfiles - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        What you fail to realize is that Mo didn’t pitch 3+ innings, therefore he is NOT as valuable as a good starting pitcher. Gossage was bashing Mo, just the closer role in general. Closers are not that valuable.

  2. freddyk34608 - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Gagne should get a look at best of all time.. I know he was on steroids and only lasted a few seasons .. But the dude was unstoppable … 85 saves in a row will never be broken

    • magicrat13 - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:03 AM


    • Ralph - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Gagne did get a look at the best of all time….and he saw Mariano Rivera.

      Come on, dude…Gagne had a good run there for couple of years, but last I checked 608 is a lot more than 187. Mariano is still out there pitching, and Gagne hasn’t thrown a pitch since 2008, and he’s 6 years younger than Rivera.

      • fanofevilempire - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:39 AM

        Goose should be sent home from Spring Training immediately.
        Reggie was asked to leave after making some bad comments about A-Rod.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:04 PM

        Does Goose have any role with the Yanks? Only seem to remember Yogi/Jackson being mentioned in camp.

    • bougin89 - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:20 PM

      This just may be the most uninformed/uneducated comment I’ve ever seen on these boards.

      • American of African Descent - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:40 PM

        Then you need to come here more often.

  3. kirby215 - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    I’m a big time philles fan but mo is as big time as it gets when he walks out of the bullpen its over

    • stoutfiles - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      Game 7 against the Diamondbacks?

      • muscles1331 - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:41 PM

        Yeah, Louis Gonzalez really got a hold of that ball…

  4. kirby215 - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    when mo is on the hill he is dominating 1 2 3 game over

    • stoutfiles - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:06 PM

      Game 7 against the Diamondbacks?

  5. danaking - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    Let’s not also forget Torre was not reluctant to use Rivera for two innings in the playoffs. Gossage was a great pitcher, relievers did have less well-defined (and likely more difficult) jobs in those days, and i’m a Yankee hater from way back, but Mariano Rivera is the goods. Any discussion of relief pitchers can focus on who might Number 2.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      Courtesy of Tom Tango:

      Mariano Rivera has perhaps the greatest accomplishments of all-time in the post-season. He’s pitched 141 innings in 96 games. That’s obviously more than one inning per game. That’s 1.47 innings per game. Goose Gossage has thrown 31.1 in 19 games, or 1.65 innings per game. Nothing to really differentiate.

      Gossage has allowed 10 runs during those 31 innings. Mariano Rivera has allowed 13 runs in 141 innings.

      If Gossage got to pitch 77 more games in the post-season (to bring him up to Mo’s 96) and throw 109.2 innings (to bring him up to Mo’s 141 innings), I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t allow only 3 runs (to bring him up to Mo’s 13).

      • asimonetti88 - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:36 AM

        13 runs in 141 innings… wow. Everyone knows Mo is great but to see it in numbers just illustrates it.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:29 PM

        Everyone knows Mo is great but to see it in numbers just illustrates it.

        Here’s another fun one. I’m going to use Mo and a player who a lot of people think could be the greatest post season pitcher in history (his HoF case is built largely on what he did in the postseason).

        Mo – 8-1, 0.70 ERA(!), 141 IP, 0.759 WHIP, 5.5 H/9, 0.1 HR/9, 1.3 BB/9, 7.0 K/9, 5.24 K/BB
        Schilling – 11-2, 2.23 ERA, 133.1 IP, 0.968 WHIP, 7.0 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 1.7 BB/9, 8.1 K/9, 4.80 K/BB

        Could we argue that Mo is the greatest post season pitcher of all time, both starting and relieving?

      • American of African Descent - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:38 PM

        According to Baseball-reference, Mo has only given up 11 earned runs in the playoffs. Or, in other words, more people have walked on the moon than have scored against Rivera in post season play.

  6. Rich Stowe - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Gossage is becoming like Schilling…opens his mouth when it’s not needed and no one is listening to him any more

  7. freddyk34608 - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    I do agree mo is the best .. But my point is gagne is over looked for his amazing run… Dude 85 in a row speaks for it’s self.. Love to know what mo’s longest streak was

    • albertmn - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      A streak does not make you the greatest ever. Just like Hershiser isn’t the greatest starter of all time because he had the 59 2/3 scoreless streak. Maris wasn’t the greatest HR hitter because he broke Ruth’s record by hitting 61 that one season.

      If you are going to try to argue greatest of all time (which you tried to do in your first post), then the player needs to be great for a lot of years.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      What was Mo’s best run ever? I don’t have time, but I am guessing we could cherry pick some stats that would stand up the Gagne. 85 in a row is great, but let’s not forget the immortal KRod holds the single season record, and nobody is talking about him as the best ever. Stats about saves are more statistical anomalies than major accomplishments.

    • axzl - Mar 16, 2013 at 11:42 PM

      It doesn’t matter what Gagne did. He was on steroids. His stats are meaningless.

  8. freddyk34608 - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    Cy Young awards: Gagne 1 Mo 0.. Again mo best of all time but Gagne more dominate over his three year run

    • albertmn - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      Sorry, Gagne’s three good seasons (his ONLY good seasons) don’t even beat Eckersley’s four year run in Oakland 89-92 (or arguably five seasons from 88-92). Plus, Eck was good/serviceable beyond just those years, which you can’t really say about Gagne. As far as Rivera, you can find at least three different stretches of 3-4 seasons that are more impressive than Gagne’s three seasons for pitching effectiveness, even if Rivera didn’t always put up the huge save totals each year (due to a good offense that didn’t leave as many close games). I hate the Yankees, but no reliever is even close to Rivera, and Gagne isn’t even in the Top 10 all time for relievers. Gagne had an impressive run, and had a little luck to go with good pitching to not have a blown save in the streak. But, streaks are fluky and don’t tell the whole story on overall greatness.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      By your logic, Rodney > Gagne so it is a moot point anyway.

    • Ralph - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      And now we know Eric Gagne’s hardballtalk username.

    • American of African Descent - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:02 PM

      Rings: Mo 5, Gagne 0.

      Post season saves: Mo 42, Gagne 0.

  9. datdangdrewdundunituhgin - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    in my travels as a tiger fan there are three sure things in life i have come to accept…

    mariano rivera dominating your team

  10. Jack Marshall - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    Dick Radatz was the most overpowering reliever I’ve ever seen or could imagine, and he sometimes went seven innings. He struck out Mickey Mantle more than half the time.But this kind of use blew “The Monster” out after just three seasons.

    I don’t see how anyone can seriously question that Rivera is the best closer ever, and by several laps.

  11. dukepatrol - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    Mariano was magnificent. He also demanded respect by his performance and persona-Player who have that combination are one in a …….. We will never see the likes of a Mariano again.Even though I am not a Yankee fan I so enjoyed the ride he gave to all of us. Hey Goose. Shut the f..k up and give the man his props

  12. stabonerichard - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Plus Gagne’s sweat-stained hat and radass goggles were way more intimidating than Mo. And Gagne could eat way more.

  13. schlom - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Was using Rivera as just a closer the greatest waste of talent in the history of the baseball? As good as he was it’s not like he was particularly stood at converting save situations – his save percentage is essentially the same as Trevor Hoffman’s (if Rivera had the same total of opportunities as Hoffman he would have ended up with 6 more save if we ignore his first two seasons as a setup man).

    • stoutfiles - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:12 PM

      No, closers are pitchers that can’t cut it as starters. It takes a lot of strength/stanima to go out there for 7+, not everyone can do it.

      • dcarroll73 - Mar 11, 2013 at 6:53 PM

        You haven’t watched much baseball in the last 20 or so years, have you? The days when relief pitchers were just guys who “can’t cut it as starters” were gone at least that far back. The management of MLB teams now select out guys with particular talents, both physical and mental, who can come in with the game on the line, no margin for error, and deliver the goods. If you seriously believe the Rivera is not as valuable as a starter, even the best aces, then you are brain-dead, and it is time to pull the plug. Ask any of his opponents – how much chance did you think you had when you were behind and Mo came in? The proof of that is in the results – slim or none. Yes he blew a few saves; he is the best ever but not perfect. I can believe it is even necessary to debate this. You really need to wake up and smell the coffee.

  14. danderoo - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    Goose is a bitter old man who never pitched at the level that Mariano has achieved for many years. Goose has a tendency to cut down modern players in an attempt to build up his own legacy to a point which he never achieved. He has no credibility with the modern players, much less the modern fans. He just needs to fade away if he is not going to say anything constructive. He comes across as an old grouch, not a true Hall of Famer.

  15. mortymcfearson - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    All closers are a joke. The fact is that 95% of games in which a closer appears with a lead would be won by their team no matter who were pitching. Did I mention the closer is a joke?

    • dcarroll73 - Mar 11, 2013 at 6:59 PM

      You are either a blatant troll or one of the dummest baseball fans in recent history. What results do many closers have with blown saves? Did teams leading by one or two runs in the ninth win 95% of those games? I don’t think so. Do you have problems with all changes or does this evolution in baseball pose a particular one for you?

  16. 11thstreetmafia - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    Mariano Rivera is the most overrated baseball player, ever.

  17. moogro - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:00 AM

    This article has people (rightly) wanting to worship Rivera and dismiss the Gossage weirdness. But Stoutfiles has a point, but which maybe should have been discussed elsewhere.

    I know Stoutfiles is pouring a lot of rust in the lube for Rivera, but he’s largely right: An incredibly effective reliever good for a limited number of pitches, and it can be pretty obvious when he’s going to be hooked. A team just has to get there. It’s not appropriate to compare that kind of performance to a starter like Schilling or a reliever like Gossage.

  18. bradmoss1 - Mar 12, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Gossage is bitter because it took him 9 tries to get into the Hall, finally receiving 466 of 543 (85.8%) votes.

    “It was very emotional I’ll tell you, off the charts. I can’t describe the feeling,” he said after learning the news. “I can’t lie. There’s been some frustration and some disappointment.”

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