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March 24, 2004

Gettin' excited
by Larry Mahnken

Are you getting excited? It's less than a week from Opening Day, and I can't wait!

I've got to say, writing for someone else's publication is a lot tougher than writing a blog. I've got my first solo column for The Hardball Times up today, and I'm working on an article for another publication as well (more on that when it's published). Throw in my actual job, a visit last weekend from my Dad, and I'm a fairly exhausted man. You'd think watching baseball would be the last thing that I'd want to do, being exhausted and all, but it actually energizes me.

I can't wait to see A-Rod playing regular season games for the Yanks, or see this rotation going out there every day. The bullpen looks solid, too. It's going to be a great season.

Speaking of the bullpen, the Yanks resigned Mariano Rivera yesterday to a 2-year deal with a vesting option for a third year. I was a bit on the fence about the Rivera situation before, because while you don't want to lose a great reliever like Rivera now, signing him to a three-year deal for big money carries the risk that you'll be stuck with a mediocre or bad reliever at the end of the contract, and paying him big money. I'm keener on this contract, because if he loses it, they can move on after only two seasons.

As for Rivera, he's pretty much a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Sure, his value is diminished by the role he's been placed in, and there are a few relievers who deserve to be in more than him, but hopefully by the time Rivera's name is called, they'll have gotten in, but if they're not, it's not going to stop him. Rivera's numbers might not ultimately be Hall-worthy, but the enduring perception of him as the most dominant relief pitcher in the game for the better part of the last decade makes him a virtual lock, and the fact that he's constantly in the postseason spotlight (four consecutive World Series' ended with Rivera on the mound) helps too.

I'd like to see Joe Torre use Rivera a little better this season. In the regular season, he seems to always bring Rivera in for a "save situation", no matter how unnecessary his presence is, and doesn't bring him into tied games on the road. In the postseason, he's a little better about using Rivera for multiple innings, but he always trys to get him the "save", and he still never uses him in tied road games, which cost the Yankees dearly in Game Four last year. Having Gordon, Quantrill and hopefully a healthy Karsay in the second half will help.

I'm getting really excited.

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I've added an RSS feed to my blog, and a link so you can read it through your My Yahoo! page. Also, I've sent out invites to the fantasy league, so check your mailbox. If you didn't get one, it's because I hate you, everyone you know, and everything you stand for. Or maybe because your availability didn't fit the rest of the invitees very well. Sorry. If there were about 10 more teams wanting in, I would have set up a second league.