Player Profile: Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera is entering his 16th season in the Major Leagues,all with the New York Yankees. He is a 5-time World Series Champion and 10-time All-Star. His success in the late innings has labeled him by many as the greatest relief pitcher/closer of All-Time. He holds several records for relief pitchers.

Mariano grew up in Panama City,Panama. He worked with his father on a boat catching shrimps and sardines. He played baseball with milk cartons as gloves with his friends on the streets and never considered playing baseball professionally. At 19, Rivera saw his days as a "fisherman" come to an end as he thought it was too tough.

In 1988 Rivera began to play for an amateur team, Panamá Oeste as a shortstop. It was then where Yankees director of Latin American Operations Herb Raybourn saw Rivera play. He saw the athleticism in Rivera but didn't see him as a shortstop. In 1989, Panamá Oeste's needed a pitcher and Mariano volunteered. Raybourn was impressed by the ease in which Rivera threw with and signed him to an amateur contract. He then went into the Yankees Minor League system. He eventually made his Major League debut in 1995 on May 23, 1995. He was almost dealt to the Detroit Tigers for David Wells in '95 but that rumor wasquickly put to bed. During one of his minor league starts Rivera started throwing 95-96 MPH, something he attributes to God as to the sudden change.

In 1996 the Yankees moved Rivera into the bullpen as the set-up man for closer John Wettland and the Yanks never looked back. In '97 Rivera took over as closer and the rest is history. He is well respected all throughout baseball. His signature pitch, the cutter has made numerous players fustrated over the years and has put 5 rings on Rivera's hand.

"You know what's coming, but you know what's coming in horror movies too. It
still gets you." —Mike Sweeney

2010 Rivera will in the final year of his current contract. After winning the 2009 World Series, Mo vowed he could pitch another 5 years. That may be a stretch but I say another 3 years would be good. Rivera showed no signs of slowing down in '09 and I don't see any for '10. I expect another amazing season from this Panamian. More October glory is in store for Rivera...maybe he should be the real Mr. October...but if you asked him, he just simply wants to be known as Mo. We know him as the greatest closer of All-Time.
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2010 Player Profile: Andy Pettitte

Andy Pettitte is entering his 16th Major League season,13th with the New York Yankees. He is a 5-time World Series Champion and 2-time All-Star. He also has 6 postseason series-clinching wins and 18 career postseason wins,both are records.

Andy is a father of four. His children, Joshua Blake (born November 3, 1994), Jared (May 28, 1998), Lexy Grace (January 10, 2001), and Luke Jackson (June 20, 2005).

Pettitte was drafted by the Yankees in the 22nd round of the 1990 draft, but opted instead to attend college in Houston. In May of 1991 Pettitte signed with the Yankees in the amateur draft.

Andy has been a 20-game winner twice in his career. In 1996 and 2003. He has been apart of 8 pennant winning teams and 5 championship teams. His 148 wins from 2000 to 2009 were the most in the decade. He has been labled one of the most clutch pitchers of all-time.

2010 Andy looks to continue the success he sustained during the 2009 season. He is entering his final years and this may be his last season in pinstripes but his stuff certainly suggests Pettitte has a lot left in the tank. Pettitte is the no. 3 starter in a rotation that boasts workhouses like CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Javier Vazquez. The Yankees won the World Series on the strength of 3 pitchers, so adding a reliable 4th starter in Vazquez no doubt makes them stronger. Pettitte, should he stay healthy can win 14-15 games and be a major contributor in another championship winning team. Andy signed a 1-year deal that will make him a free agent at season's end, does Andy return to the Bronx in '11? Hopefully he does,but let's stay focused on 2010 and the year Andy will be here. It seems to me, he'll be Ol' Reliable again. October baseball awaits this veteran lefty.
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Player Profile: Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter is entering his 15th Major League season at the age of 35. He will turn 36 on June 24th. He is once again the starting shortstop and Captain for the defending World Series Champion New York Yankees. Here are some tidbits about Derek you may or may not know.

Jeter was born in Pequannock Township, New Jersey, in 1974. Derek and his family moved to Kalamazoo Michigan when he was four. During his childhood Derek's sister Sharlee would take him to Yankee games during the summer in which they stayed with their grandmother in New Jersey. Derek became a huge fan of the Yankees. Jeter says his inspiration for playing baseball came from former Yankee Dave Winfield.

Jeter joined his high school baseball team. He also was a member of the high school basketball team. In 2003 Derek was inducted into the Kalamazoo Central High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Jeter was drafted in 1992 as the sixth overall pick by the Yankees. He was discovered by Astros scout Hal Newhouser. The Astros chose to overlook Jeter in the '92 draft because Derek insisted on a salary bonus of $1 million or more to sign. The Yankees then chose him and the rest is history.

Derek Jeter is a 10-time All-Star and 5- World Series Champion. He has won 4 Glove Glove Awards and 4 Silver Slugger Awards. He is just coming off his 2nd best season of his career. While his defense and declining skills came into question, Derek rose to the occasion and quited the critics and won a championship.

In 2010 Jeter is looking to repeat the success of 2009 both personally and with his team. At season's end, Derek will be a free agent. He has said it is his every intention to remain a Yankee until he retires and the Yankees have stated the same. This generation's Joe DiMaggio has a lot to smile for. He's done it all in a place where the lights shine brightest. 2010 looks to be another winnning and successful season for Derek Jeter...what else would you expect?
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My Top 3 Yankees of All-Time

When you think of the Yankees, there are so many moments and players that come to mind. I have been fortunate enough to witness the latest run of great Yankee teams from 1996 to today. Some people will tell you about Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra and how they ruled New York way back when. Today, I can tell you my three favorite Yankees of All-Time and why.

3- David Cone 1995-2000

He was the ace of the staff upon his arrival in 1995 and lived up to the expectations that came along with it. His 140 pitch outing in Game 5 of the 95 Divison Series against Seattle was gutsy. He laid everything he possibly had out on the field and that's what I liked about his most. He gave it everything he got. During his tenure in pinstripes, the Yankees won four World Series championships. He threw a perfect game in 1999 against the Expos. He was one of the best pitchers in baseball during his prime. Although at the end of his run in the Bronx, he was a shell of a pitcher he once was, he still had enough to get Mike Piazza out in Game 5 of the 2000 World Series against the Mets in a crucial spot. His funky windup, sweeping slider, and intense demeanor on the mound makes his one of my favorite Yankees of all-time.

2- Mariano Rivera 1995-Present

This should really be labeled as 1-B but nontheless, Rivera surely makes the list. 500 plus saves from a guy who wasn't a great starter. I have seen the evolution of Mariano first hand,as many of us have. A skinny young thrower, to a skinny old legend. His countless performances in the most pressurized situations makes him immortal. He did have some slips along the way, '97 ALDS against the Indians, '01 Game 7 World Series, '04 Game 4 ALCS, but between all that, he is the greatest pitcher in postseason history. His calm attitude as he enters the game, mostly with the game on the line, brings relief to an already intense moment. His humble attitude and strong personality make for a great baseball player. Who knows how much Rivera has left in the tank but once he's done, we will surely miss seeing a legend who was always in his prime, do his craft, as no one will ever be able to replicate his success.

1- Derek Jeter 1995-Present

How could he not be no. 1on the list. He is the symbol of success. Since his full time arrival in 1996 the Yankees have won 5 World Series titles and have become a global juggernaut, in part of the Captain's presence. From his Flip in 2001,to his dive in the stands in 2004, Jeter has been the backbone of the Yankees. In a time where scandals have hit most superstars, both on and off the field, Jeter has had none. His team first attitude,his everyday hustle, and his drive to win has won over New York over the last 15 years. Whatever he touches turns to gold. There is no higher standard in sports, than Derek Jeter. He is what the Yankees franchise symbolize, pride,power and tradition. Derek carries that with him everyday. His numerous accomplishments over his career can make anyone envious,but instead, they bring determination to everyone. He may not be the best player in baseball, or even the best player on his team, but Derek Jeter is Mr. Yankee. He is one of the best players of his generation and he is a future Hall of Famer. Along with Rivera, there is no one better, with the game on the line, with the lights shining bright, and with all eyes on him...that's why Derek Jeter is my favorite Yankee of All-Time!
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