Mo’s Speech To A Young Closer

WasWatching posted a link from the Commercial Dispatch about some important career-helping advice Mariano Rivera gave to Jonathan Papelbon in the past.

"The Boston Red Sox can thank a member of the New York Yankees for one thing.

it wasn’t for a little encouragement from Yankee closer Mariano Rivera,
Jonathan Papelbon may not have developed into the type of pitcher
capable of finishing a World Series game with a save for the Red Sox.

a pretty good closer himself, Papelbon felt the need of getting a
little advice from Rivera during the 2006 All-Star Game.

though he plays for the Yankees, I sat down and talked with him for
about an hour after the All-Star Game was over and just tried to pick
his brain,” Papelbon said. “At the end of our conversation, he said,
‘Pap look, you’re going to follow me, but you are going to do it for a
different team and just always remember that closers have to have a
short term memory. You have to walk into the office the next day (after
you blow a save) and act like nothing happened.’ I’ve kind of taken
that approach.”

The article only gets part of the story. Mariano also offered the following tips:

"Believe in yourself."

"Throw strikes."

"All we are is dust in the wind."

But the most interesting advice the sagacious veteran gave the young future star had to do with extra-performance issues.

Here are some choice quotes from the lecture to a young closer.

"One thing I regret not doing during all those championship seasons–and, Jonathan, remember that World Series championships are precious things–is enjoy the moment fully. I always wished I could let it all go. What I would give to be able to go back in time and during a post-World Series victory, run around the stadium in my underwear in front of thousands of screaming fans. And you know what, Jonathan? I would love if I could have performed an Irish jig while in my underwear, and, preferably, I’d want my underwear to be drenched in beer. I always loved Irish folk music, and, as a boy, I was struck by the sublime beauty of Irish jigs–it was as if the dancers were running in mid-air. Jonathan, please do me this favor. If the occasion arises, please strip down close to naked and do a glorious jig in front of the fans! And do jigs everywhere! Forever young you will remain…"

"Because of the whole "graceful" shtick I got going for me, I’m not allowed to be demonstrative on the mound. I have to be stoic. Oh, how I rue the day when I was stuck with that label! "Graceful". How boring! How constraining! Jonathan, do your nostrils flare? Ah, I see they do like an angry bull’s. And can you make a really mean-looking face? No, that’s a bit of a constipated look. Purse those lips. Ah yes! Now flair your nostrils. Oh, you look angry! Angry indeed! Now, make that your game face. When you’re facing a batter, make that scary mean face."

"Jonathan, you are from the South, and yet the lilt in your voice makes you sound like a Northern patrician. That won’t work with a working-class fan-base in love with the idea of authenticity. Now, Jonathan, I want you to countrify the way you speak. Lay it on thick. These Northerners have no idea what a true Bayou accent sounds like…Very good. But make it more rural."

"Towel snapping in the shower always lightens the mood after a loss."

16 comments… add one
  • I think my favorite bit in this is Mariano’s waxing poetic on Irish dancers, but I also really like “…make that scary mean face”.
    I always enjoy your posts, Nick.
    Somehow this reminds me of Hercule Poirot helping someone or demonstrating something (I think it’s all the “Oh”s and “Ah”s)…but that might just be because I’ve read a jillion Agatha Christie books recently.

    Devine January 17, 2008, 2:23 pm
  • “Carry on, young K-ward son.”

    FenSheaParkway January 17, 2008, 2:24 pm
  • I think he also told him to try to sneak outside fastballs by A-Rod when playing in the rain at Fenway. Proof of Mo’s team loyalty…

    sam-YF January 17, 2008, 2:31 pm
  • Thanks, Devine. You know, I’ve embarrassed to say that I’ve never read Agatha Christie. Pretty shameful since my mother has ready every single one. Maybe it’s the way she speaks that influenced this post?
    And FSP, I wish I had thought of that as a title!

    Nick-YF January 17, 2008, 2:32 pm
  • You had me at ‘all we are is dust in the wind’. It seemed like the natural next step. Rivera is a huge Kansas fan, after all.

    FenSheaParkway January 17, 2008, 2:44 pm
  • yet the lilt in our voice makes you sound like a Northern patrician.
    So Jonathan Papelbon actually sounds like Katherine Hepburn?

    Paul SF January 17, 2008, 3:33 pm
  • he actually sounds like George Plimpton.

    Nick-YF January 17, 2008, 3:36 pm
  • Papelbon still doesn’t have his game face perfected. That aged-brown photo of him that was part of a series of playoff players MLB put out before the playoffs started was beyond hilarious.

    AndrewYF January 17, 2008, 4:05 pm
  • I have to tell you up until I saw Papelbon in his underwear doing the riverdance I thought he was one of the most intimidating men in the game. Now, not so much. His stuff is filthy, but hitters have to be smiling slightly when they step in the box against him now.
    Fantasy baseball help:
    In a keeper league who would you rather have: Colby Rasmus, Reid Brignac or Carlos Truifinel? Any input let me know!

    John - YF January 17, 2008, 4:23 pm
  • trisk- seems like rasmus will be the first up out of the 3 due to the edmonds deal. he’s not the best contact guy but has some legitimate ML pop. brignac will more than likely move from SS this year, so positionally he may not help you. he seems to be in love with pulling the ball. not the best approach for his frame. triunfel (turns 18 next month) is the rawest of the three. defensively he’s a risk, which may slow his path to the bigs. doesn’t like to walk and swings at bad pitches.
    i would say keep rasmus.

    sf rod January 17, 2008, 4:51 pm
  • All a part of the plan, John. Think they’ll be able to hit a 97-mph heater with movement when they’re trying to keep from busting out? I think not.

    Paul SF January 17, 2008, 5:03 pm
  • Thanks Rod, that’s what I figured. I don’t actually have any of those 3, but in our league we can keep 1 Minor League player and not have it count against our roster limitations. I am in the process of trying to acquire one of them. Thanks for the input.

    John - YF January 17, 2008, 5:03 pm
  • LOL let me clarify he is still filthy, but it’s just going to be hard not to smile when you look out at him now. My guess is one ball up at your chin and the vision will disappear.

    John - YF January 17, 2008, 5:04 pm
  • Either that or they’ll be laughing all the way back to the dugout. Nice way to go out, if you must.

    FenSheaParkway January 17, 2008, 5:19 pm
  • This “advice” that Mo gave to Papelpon is funny.
    One could imagine the conversation that Manny would have would someone like Melky Cabrera.

    SoxFan January 18, 2008, 3:32 am
  • I think rather than giving advice, he would just talk to Manny about old Power Rangers episodes. That’s what I picture, at least.
    Or even better, SoxFan–what if Julian Tavarez gave advice to Edwar Ramirez? I think we’d hear the word “penis” (or some synonym thereof) at least every 5th word.

    Atheose January 18, 2008, 8:55 am

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