In 1995, Mariano Rivera made his Major League debut with the New York Yankees. Since then, his recorded accomplishments include more than 500 saves, 11 All-Star Game appearances and the post season record for number of saves. However, one unrecorded statistic that will not follow him into the Hall of Fame is the number of bats broken chasing after one of his pitches that couldn’t be hit.
Rivera’s Cut Fastball
Except for an occasional two or four-seamed fastball the cut-fastball is all Rivera throws, and he throws it with a “here it is I dare you to hit it” attitude. The article, “Rivera’s Broken Bats are a Broken Record,” said the ball sharply breaks into a left handed batter just before it gets to the plate. The batters swing at the ball is an effort of futility, and when the ball hits the thinner handle area of the bat, the bat breaks.
Rivera discovered the pitch, which moves like a slider with the speed of a fastball, while playing catch in the bullpen in 1997. He said that he credits the discovery to God, because he did nothing to prepare for it says the article, “Mariano Rivera.” He noticed a sharp movement with no predictability with his fastball that day. He couldn’t figure out why it was moving the way it did, and he couldn’t straighten it out, so he learned how to control it, and then added it to his other pitches in 1998. Although, after learning he could control the movement of the ball with pressure from his middle finger, he made the cut-fastball his dominant pitch.
Exactly how many bats Rivera’s cut-fastball is responsible for breaking no one knows for sure but, in 2001 the New York Times kept a count. That year he threw 80 2/3 innings and 44 bats broke, which is a little over a half a bat an inning. Projecting those figures over his career is over 700 broken bats. To the best of any ones recollection five is the most he has ever broken in a game, though recently, due to an umpire’s mistaken call in a playoff game, the Minnesota Twins were the beneficiary of four outs in one inning. All four batters that faced Rivera broke their bat.
Joba Chamberlain, his bullpen partner, said, “If you ask anyone else they get excited when they take a bat. I know I do, because I don’t take that many. But it’s just another thing to him.”
The Atlanta Braves Chipper Jones said, “he’s like a buzz saw,” after watching a teammate break three bats in one trip to the plate, in the 1999 World Series.
Jeff Passon: Rivera’s Broken Bats are a Broken Record: yahoo.com
Articles Base: Mariano Rivera: articlesbase.com