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There is an eerie synchronicity in Mariano Rivera leaving the pen
because of injury, and Chris Sale returning to the closer role because
of concern for injury: it feels almost like a royal succession - the
best fireman of the late 20th century making way for the premiere
fireman of the 21st century.
I know Chris Sale is disappointed to leave the starting line up, but
he was born to be a fireman, that pitcher who can come into a
hostile ballpark in the late innings with a one or two run lead,
runners on, the crowd going wild because the game's on the line
and a hit will win it - and then shut down the other side.
A fireman needs ice water in his veins, a couple of wicked pitches
and an ability to intimidate the hitter to neutralize the momentum
of a potential big inning. Just look at Sale's face when he enters
the game with everything on the line. The determination is
palpable. He's focused. He's ready. He knows what he has to do.
He's doing what he was born to do.
He has the potential to be one of the great closers. Wouldn't
he rather be one of the greatest closers of all time than just
a very good starter?
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