Oct. 28 Andrew Miller, Mark Melancon pregame interview
MODERATOR: Good evening, everybody. It's great that -- love to hear the shutters of the cameras, the star power is here. It's quite a day.
Welcome everybody, this is the official announcement of the 2015 American League and National League Reliever of the Year Awards presented by The Hartford. In this day and age, I think we've seen, even with this World Series certainly last night with the long game, the importance of relief pitching and the dynamic of the game. It's more important than ever before. And there are more excellent relief pitchers now than ever before in the game. So to be honored as the top relief pitcher in the game today is really quite an honor. And this is an important award.
These awards were revamped last season and were named in honor of two of the greatest relievers of all time from the American League and National League. We are honored to have both of them here tonight. We welcome in Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera. Guys, great to have you here. (Applause.)
Any sportswriters here, this is the debut in the Hall of Fame ballot from Trevor, who is well over the line. I'm looking at some voting writers. We know best of luck -- three more years for Mariano -- but good luck this winter on the ballot. I think you will get in to the Hall of Fame. Shouldn't be long.
This year's winners have joined us here tonight as well, so the secret is out. You see them sitting there right now. I'd like to first announce the 2015 Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year presented by The Hartford, from the Pittsburgh Pirates, Mark Melancon.
This is a blessed month for Mark, as well, if his wife Mary Catherine is here. They welcomed in Ella Grace, 12 days old, who is here, as well. You see the baby. It's nap time. Everything is good and calm.
Mark, congratulations on multiple fronts. That's wonderful news.
And the 2015 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year presented by The Hartford, fittingly from the New York Yankees, Andrew Miller. (Applause.)
Andrew, in the fine tradition of Yankees relievers, a hundred strikeouts in 61 innings, the best strikeout rate in the American League.
With that, we'd like to formally graduate our winners. We welcome in our special guests, most notably the Commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred. (Applause.)
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: When we decided last year to overhaul our relief pitcher awards, the first thing that Commissioner Selig did was sought the participation of Mariano and Trevor. Their involvement in the selection process gave this award instant credibility. And their willingness to lend their names to the award gave it instant prestige.
I want to thank Mariano and Trevor for your involvement and for being here tonight. It really is important for us. So thank you very much.
Now I'm going to turn to the real honorees for tonight. Let me start with the winner of the Trevor Hoffman Award, Mark Melancon. Mark was actually a teammate of Mariano's. We've got all sorts of interrelationships here. He converted 51 of 53 saves this year, which is an unbelievable record. Was an All-Star for the second time.
And I couldn't be more pleased for you, and congratulations on behalf of Major League Baseball. (Applause.)
The winner of the Mariano Rivera Award, of course, Andrew Miller, as Brian said. A little Yankee tradition going on there. Did I forget to say of the Pittsburgh Pirates? Frank Coonelly would never forgive me. Let's go back and do that.
Andrew also had a great season. 36 of 38 save opportunities, averaged 14 strikeouts per nine innings, which is just an astounding number. And I think in your career your opponent's batting average is .151, which is an outstanding number, as well. So Andrew, congratulations to you. I got to see a lot of you in New York, you had a great year, and we're all very proud of you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Commissioner, thank you so much. The Reliever of the Year Awards are presented by The Hartford. The Hartford is a new League sponsor this year, but they have a long history with Major League Baseball, insuring teams through the years and insuring Babe Ruth in the 1920s. A good risk, as it turns out.
Let's welcome in the president of The Hartford, Doug Elliot. (Applause.)
DOUG ELLIOT: Good evening, everyone. We're so pleased to be here, and we're proud to be associated with MLB.
I'm honored also to be here with two of the greatest closers that have ever been part of this special game, and they've also been ambassadors for us at The Hartford this past year. We thank Trevor and we thank Mariano for an incredible run. Thank you here to helping us share in the glory of a fantastic year for Andrew and Mark.
Partnered with Major League Baseball to present the Reliever of the Year was a natural fit for The Hartford, and very proud to be associated with it.
With that, I'd just like to say we're so happy about the way tonight has played out. We're proud of the winners, Mark and Andrew. What a fantastic year, and we're so glad to be associated with you both. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Let's hear from our special guest, then, our seven-time All-Star in the National League. When you look at the record it truly is outstanding, as far as his consistency, dominance and run prevention year after year, Trevor Hoffman.
TREVOR HOFFMAN: I'd like to let you guys in on my first greatest save today, and that was having Kansas City barbecue and not getting it on my white shirt.
I want to congratulate Mark, being part of The Hartford and having your name a part of the Reliever of the Year Award has been an honor for me to hand to you. What a great year.
If everybody doesn't understand, he's a fellow Arizona Wildcat, left school as the single season save holder and also the career save holder. He continued to move on in the Big League level. Very proud of his accomplishments this year. It's an honor to have my name on this award, so congratulations. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: A 13-time All-Star, and the standard, Joe Torre, ready to tap him and bring him into the game right now, the all-time great, Mariano Rivera.
MARIANO RIVERA: Thank you very much. At this time I represent The Hartford. It's amazing to have an award like this named after myself. It's wonderful. Thank you. Again, more happier for the recipient, a guy that came from the beautiful New York Yankees. I couldn't be more proud for you, Andrew, to receive this award. Congratulations.
ANDREW MILLER: Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Maybe we'll start there. Andrew, first year in New York and you performed so consistently and beautifully. What was it like for you this year pitching with the pinstripes and taking over the ninth inning?
ANDREW MILLER: I've been lucky. The Yankees are about as good an organization as you can find. Their reputation is impeccable. Having the opportunity to play there is better than I ever dreamed of. On that front, no complaints. This is an incredible honor, something I never dreamed of. To be associated with anything with Mariano's name on it, probably more than I deserve. Nobody has a better reputation, and especially off the field, than him. It's something I'll cherish it.
MODERATOR: 51 for 53 is incredible in any era. That's just a lot of saves, a lot of success. What does the award mean to you?
MARK MELANCON: I got to play with Mariano and getting to know Trevor. This award means more than just the on-field stuff. These guys, their names are bigger than baseball, anything they've done in baseball. Tremendous people and that goes so much further in my book to be with these guys up here in that regard. So just a special, special thing.
Getting to play with Mariano was so much fun, he kind of taught me a lot of lessons. And I think anybody would pay a lot of money to sit in the bullpen with him.
I can remember one time he told me I hit more guys in the last two weeks than he had hit his whole career (laughter). And he wasn't joking. So I learned a lot from him. I really appreciate it.
And Trevor, just so fun to grow up watching you. I was an Arizona Wildcat, like you said, so pretty cool. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Andrew, you guys were teammates. Did you think at that point when you were both in the Red Sox bullpen, no, we're the best relief pitchers in all of baseball, the two of us?
ANDREW MILLER: 2012 was interesting in Boston, to say the least. Mark and I got to be pretty good friends that year. It's pretty neat to be up here and share this table with him.
I've pulled for him and watched and kept up with him ever since we got separated. But he's an awesome guy, awesome family. And it's really neat to see him in this setting and to be associated with him. This is also a big honor. His year was about as big as they come.
Q. Taking over that closer role two years after Mariano left, and now getting the award in his name as a Yankee, what is it like?
ANDREW MILLER: I think those two words describe it pretty well. I certainly never tried to fill his shoes or anything like that. I know that was a question that was popular at the start of the year. It's impossible, nobody can do that.
I just tried to pitch the same game I felt like I had been pitching, whether that was the sixth inning or the ninth inning, and that worked pretty well for me, fortunately. But it's not going to match what he did.
Just to be associated with him in any way, it's pretty neat. It's a testament to this situation I was put in. We had a pretty good team this year, and I think our bullpen was a huge strength of that. I was fortunate, I don't think anybody got to follow somebody better than Dellin Betances. He's not sitting up here getting credit for this, but he deserves it more than anybody. It was fun to be a part of that group. And they were special, I certainly couldn't have done this without them.
Q. Mariano, Familia gave up that home run last night in his first Postseason, in a big Postseason game. You were a young pitcher who did that as well, and overcame that. What's the challenge as a closer to get past a big home run in a World Series or a playoff game?
MARIANO RIVERA: The challenge as a closer, he has a lot more opportunities. It's game No. 1. And hopefully he has the same opportunities so he can do the job that he knows how to do, because he has been doing a tremendous job.
It's part of the frame, how he will respond after yesterday. So we'll see. When that happens we'll see. Because, again, I have seen him pitching basically the whole year, and he has done a tremendous job. He's been doing economic, he's been outstanding. We'll see after the next one what will happen.
MODERATOR: I have one last question. Andrew, both of you guys were outstanding guys, setup men, then you had to work the 9th, the last three outs. What was that like making that transition and having to deliver?
ANDREW MILLER: I think a lot of times it's underestimated how much different it can be. I think I tried to focus on treating it the same and almost lying to myself, just focus on the hitter and focus on the pitch, and follow those old baseball cliches, it worked pretty well for me. There are certain times you feel the game is on your shoulders and there's nobody behind you. I've had a blast doing it and hope to get better doing it.
MARK MELANCON: Similar to Andrew, you literally have to take every pitch as important as the next and not get ahead of yourself. But in the setup role it's very similar, like Andrew said. I had Tony Watson in front of me and the guys are just fabulous. That attitude of going one pitch at a time, I think as clichÃ© as it is, is really important.
Q. You've converted from being a shortstop to a pitcher. DeGrom, same thing. What were the challenges of doing that so early in your career?
TREVOR HOFFMAN: I think for me the biggest challenge was trying to keep things simple, not necessarily getting too far ahead of yourself in the learning curve of what's coming at you, and the ability to keep it simple made it easier, that transition became easier. You realized how difficult it was in the batter's box to hit the baseball, so let's try and flip the scenario on another guy.
MODERATOR: Mark Melancon and Andrew Miller, congratulations to you.