Rivera shows his support for Familia, Mets
Legendary closer knows difficulty of bouncing back from postseason blown save
KANSAS CITY -- The sting of a late postseason homer once trailed Mariano Rivera through an entire offseason, though he would later look back upon Sandy Alomar Jr.'s crushing blow in the 1997 American League Division Series and call it a stepping stone to a successful career.
Rivera recovered from that hiccup to tally a Major League record 42 postseason saves, and though he wasn't in front of a TV when Jeurys Familia surrendered a ninth-inning Alex Gordon home run in Tuesday's Game 1 of the World Series, the all-time saves leader said that he understood exactly what Familia must have been feeling at that moment.
"You always feel. It's not an easy position," Rivera said. "Every eye is on top of you, and that's only on the field. Forget about on TV. You feel like a little ant. I do. I feel for guys like that. Besides that, if you don't have the brain or the mentality to surpass that or put it behind, that can be dangerous."
The Mets, who will head back to New York for Game 3 on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8 p.m. game time), were "shocked," in manager Terry Collins' words, when Familia blew his first save since July, following a campaign in which he recorded 43 regular-season saves and ran off 9 2/3 scoreless innings through the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Rivera's message to Familia: it happens to everyone, and the best thing to do is get right back on the mound.
"That's part of the game. It's not something that, 'Oh, he's invincible,'" Rivera said. "No, he's not. He's not invincible. We're all vulnerable. We're human beings, not a machine. When that happens, the question will be, 'How is he going to come back? How is he going to react after that?' We will see that when the situation happens. That's a big blow.
"As long as when you go in there and you're mentally prepared, and you're physically prepared 100 percent, the rest is history. You're giving your best. Sometimes your best won't be enough. It's simple."
Rivera was pitching against the Mets the last time they appeared in a World Series, closing out the Yankees' 26th championship at Shea Stadium. Fifteen years later, Rivera said that he finds himself pulling for the Yanks' crosstown rivals in this series.
"I am. We have a Panamanian there [infielder Ruben Tejada], and it was shocking the way he got hurt," Rivera said. "But it's still New York. Because the Yankees are not in it, I am pulling for the Mets."