Over the weekend Goose Gossage — while prefacing every statement with the caveat that he was not taking anything away from Mariano Rivera — said a lot of stuff that pretty clearly suggested that he was taking things away from Mariano Rivera. The upshot: he’s a good one inning closer, that Mo, but back in my day we closed out games for three innings. Uphill. Both ways.
Which, yes, there is truth to the notion that relievers of the 70s and into the 80s were used very differently than they are today. And, in my view, I think a lot of these guys such as John Hiller, Dan Quisenberry and even Gossage to some degree are undersold.
But go read what Joe Posnanski wrote on the topic yesterday before you give Gossage his due for telling the one-inning closers to get off his lawn. Specifically: (a) that for as much as Gossage wants to play up his iron man credentials, he really was done with that kind of work in the first half of his career and spent the second half being used much more like a modern closer; and (b) no matter what you can say about the usage patterns, it is undeniable that Rivera has been far, far better a pitcher in his career than Gossage was in his.
This shouldn’t be debatable. Mariano Rivera was the best of all time, in my view. He is of the same kind as the modern closer, but he is in such a different class than his peers that it’s comical.
As is most of what Gossage says these days about pretty much everything, but you didn’t need me to tell you that.