Mets closer job is one of the toughest in New York sports
By Tim Boyle
Anyone who has ever worked in New York knows how tough it is. Those who have been employed as the New York Mets closer understand the pressure.
Working in New York is never easy. The commute alone is draining. For professional athletes in the city, the spotlight shines brightly on all of their mistakes. One vacant job with the New York Mets will continue to have a lot of pressure on it in 2019. That’s the closer role.
Mets fans have a love/hate relationship with the closers of their favorite baseball team. It’s understandable. Even the best closers in the team’s history have come up short in the big moments.
There’s no role in sports with more pressure than that of the closer. He’s always on the last chopper out of Saigon with no reinforcements on the way. One bad pitch can cost his team the game.
In a city like New York with mass media coverage, any blown save goes under a microscope. The New York Yankees were lucky to have Mariano Rivera succeed consistently in this role for two decades. The Mets haven’t been nearly as fortunate despite employing some really good ones over the years.
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Following the Jeurys Familia trade this past summer, the closer role is open once again. A “Now Hiring” sign hangs on the bullpen door at Citi Field with both recent minor league graduates and more-seasoned ballplayers hoping to get a callback for the job.
For as much pressure as there is with the Mets closer job, it’s not one that should scare many off. The right mentality of a closer welcomes this challenge. They thrive in pressure situations.
The Mets closer job is even tougher because of the way Familia performed in the 2015 and 2016 postseason. Many still blame him for the losses. In those moments, if Familia did his job to perfection, he would have gone down as a legend in Queens. Instead, he’s a goat rather than the GOAT.
With Familia’s meltdowns fresh in our memory banks, there’s a lack of trust with anyone who becomes this team’s closer.
You can debate the Yankees closer job is tougher because of the demands from their fans. Anyone who takes it is also living in the shadow of Rivera. It makes sense and I do believe it’s true. However, Yankees fans can always cling to the success they’ve had in the past. Mets fans cannot do the same.
The history isn’t as rich. Every time a Mets closer blows a playoff game, there’s no telling when they will get an opportunity for redemption.
When a closer screws up, he often costs his team and every fan a win. Nearly every pitch he throws matters. Each moment becomes bigger than the last.
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There’s no running out the clock or taking a knee. A closer must get the outs by any means necessary. Far too often, we see these men cave to the pressures.