Jonathan Papelbon loves him some Mariano Rivera.
Here’s Papelbon discussing Mariano last month, on Boston’s the Sports Hub:
“Deep down in my heart, I would love to finish my career as a Red Sox. And I think everybody pretty much knows that, but that’s a very, very hard thing to do in this day and age. And the way the game is now, I have to understand that as well. Hopefully it works out to where I can stay here for a while and win World Series and break records in a Red Sox uniform like my buddy Mo [Mariano Rivera] has done over there in [Yankees] pinstripes.”
And here he is today, discussing Mariano again during a press conference in Florida:
Did you watch the postseason after you guys were eliminated?
I didn’t watch a whole, whole lot. I tried to watch guys like [Mariano Rivera] and see what they were doing, try to keep track of it as best as I could. I didn’t watch a whole lot, like I said. But obviously Mo is one of those guys who I’ve idolized in the role, and what he’s done for the role, what he’s done himself as a closer. He’s got five rings. That speaks for itself. Everybody else that’s a closer out there is pretty much chasing him. I think he’s set the tone for what it is to be a closer, and I think he’s bridged that gap, from closers 10 years ago to closers now. He’s been able to do both and to bridge that gap. It’s fun to watch him. It’s fun to see how he goes about it, and it’s fun to kind of compete with him on a level of kind of staying up with him. If you can stay on the same field with him, you’re doing something right.
He’s had his postseason hiccups. Does that make it easier for you to put last year in context?
Of course. I’ve talked to [current Red Sox and former Yankees bullpen coach] Gary Tuck about that a lot. He was obviously with Mo for a greater part of his career. There’s a lot of little nuances that we talk about, from his game to my game. That’s what makes him who he is, and that’s what makes an athlete who they are – how they bounce back. In this game, that’s what’s going to test you to see what you’re made of. I take it all full steam ahead. It doesn’t affect me. I’m not going to take it into this season. My whole goal this season is to start a streak over again, see what happens from there.
Can you imagine pitching into your 40s?
Yeah, I can, but it’s not an easy thing to do. Mo, he just makes it look easy. He makes it look easy. Hopefully I will be able to, but only time will tell.
Like with the Joe Nathan item I posted yesterday at iYankees, it’s always fun to read of the praise heaped onto Mariano Rivera from other closers in baseball. While many of them hope to emulate his remarkable success, it is difficult to see any of them crafting a comparable resume or nearing the “aura” and “mystique” that is an intimate part of his legend. For now, as Papelbon said, everybody else is “pretty much chasing” Mariano, though I wonder if anyone can actually catch him.
Photo by John Munson/The Star-Ledger