Over the last eight seasons Yankee manager Joe Torre would strike fear in the hearts of opponents with one phone call in the eighth inning of games in which the Yankees held slim leads. They knew that phone call would tell the bullpen coach to loosen up Mariano Rivera. Soon number 42 would take off that jacket, warm up and all hopes the opposition had of coming back vanished, along with Maalox moments for Joe Torre in the ninth.
Mariano pitched the ninth inning of those contests but essentially the game was over. The other team didn’t believe they could come back and were accurate in that assessment. Mariano was unhittable!! When opponents did connect it seemed like an act of providence. Mariano’s blown saves during the 1997 American League Divisional playoffs and the 2001 World Series are memorable because they were so infrequent. The New York Yankees and their fans have been spoiled the past eight seasons watching baseball's premier "fireman" extinguish opposition rallies in routine fashion. Recently it seems as if the top "fireman" in the game is burning out.
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