Is Cockiness Really Necessary?

In today’s story about new Tigers closer Jose Valverde, he boasted that he could save 74 games this season and said of himself, “I’m the best on the mound.” 
Jose Valverde.jpg
Clearly, he’s a guy who gets fired up, if this photo from his Diamondbacks days is any indication. So maybe he meant, “That’s what I tell myself when I go out to pitch, just to psyche myself up.”  You know, like for self-motivation. And he wouldn’t be the first closer with a flair for the dramatic.


But when you start bragging about how good you are and how many games you’ll save, aren’t you going a little too far in the cocky department and setting yourself up to fail? I’m just wondering because Mo is so totally different from the above brand of closers.
Sure, he trots in to the high-energy “Enter Sandman,” but if he had chosen his own entrance music it would probably have been…no music at all. He knows he’s good, but he never beats anybody over the head with it. In fact, he shrugs off all the compliments and accolades and simply goes out there and does his job. Which is why Valverde’s comment got my attention. I read it and thought, Mo would never say that. I know. I know. I deify him every chance I get. I’m a broken record.
But he’s such an anomaly in the world of closers who thump their chests to show us how much heart they have. Please. We know you have heart or you wouldn’t have made it to the big leagues. Lots of players guarantee victories and shoot their mouths off. It’s part of sports these days. But Mo? He just collects saves – and World Series trophies. No words necessary.
World Series Phillies Yankees Baseball011706--300x300.jpg


  1. Jane Heller

    You’re right, Mike. Why not deify Mo in every single post I write? Maybe I should change the name of the blog to “Confessions of a She-Worshipper.”

  2. bklyntrolleyblogger

    I prefer the Mo method myself. I believe there is a certain decorum one should conduct his/her profession with, Jete is another. But life is colorful and we all have our favorite colors. Like in life we should be examining how much tolerance it takes to comprise an American society, just like baseball. That said, when it’s time for our book to be written, all those wonderful attributes will be duely noted about Mo and he’ll be waxed-over poetic for generations. Why? Because that’s the way it plays out and that’s the way he was(is). Let these guys act out the way they will. We get to write the stories and we decide how we remember them. Some do more to make you remember them than others. Some do things that make you want to forget them. Who are we to judge? But we get to decide who we like!
    Gee…that was a big thought bubble.

  3. rabruzzese

    Part of the reason we all love Mo so much is because he’s above it all. If he was a cocky sonuvabitch we’d probably still like him, but he wouldn’t be revered like this. Jeter is in the same boat. I think it makes us appreciate them more. At least that’s how it is for me.

  4. leafiz

    here’s my mo story:
    my brother and i were at a game early and watching batting practice. i felt like a kid, but i did buy a ball and a sharpie pen and hope for an autograph. then i saw mo out in the field. i called his name and asked if he’d sign my ball. he looked over at me. we locked gazes for a few seconds. he thought about it! i know he did! but he turned away and trotted off. i think if there weren’t a bunch of other people there maybe he would have come over to say hi and sign my ball. but if mo were to come over to the stands, he would have been bombarded most likely. and maybe he was tired that day. but we did have a moment together! haha. -courtney

  5. gaberoth

    Love Mo. He’s undeniably the greatest. But I wonder how we’ll feel if either Joba or Papelbon take over for Mo one day. Maybe “cockiness” will be replaced by “swagger” and we’ll be fine as long as the Yanks keep winning.


    Mo is in a class all by himself. And class is the word!!!

    Perhaps all the blustering is because the others are so insecure about themselves. Mo knows how great he is and quietly goes about his work.

    I also wonder if Mo’s zen-like calm comes from the fact that baseball is not the be all and end all for him. He has said that his family and his god come first and if he does well in baseball, that’s nice.

    And could having Joe Torre as a manager have helped foster these young guys and their classy demeanors? Mo, Jeter, Andy, and Bernie have always exuded class.

    It’s so much nicer than the ’70s, when it got to be sort of embarrassing to root for the teams where the manager and players were having fist fights in the dugout. I always loved Roy White more than Reggie Jackson.


  7. swedengirl

    Hey! My name is Suzette, i´m 18years old, and i live sweden. I have started a project, to fight cancer with the help from baseball fans.
    So why did i get this idea? Hmm, my granddad have lung cancer, and it´s quit bad, and my dads very good friend Stephanie (a big baseball fan) have it to, and i didn´t now how to help them, but then my daddy got this idea, For every homerun your team hits you donate 1$, and after the season i donate it to If this sounds good, plz check my blog or send me an e-mail so i can tell you more about it!

    GO CUBS GO!!!!!!!!!!!

    Help us fight cancer

  8. cheshirecat9

    Someday I am going to be telling people about how I saw the great Mariano Rivera pitch. The two times I was on the Jumbotron at Yankee Stadium I was dancing to “Enter Sandman” (although the camera was really focused on my girlfriend at the time, I just happened to be next to her). There is never going to be another like him. Jane you should never apologize for deifying the guy, he truly is one in a million.

  9. thefreak

    Now let me ask you this. Would you feel the same way if the Yankees closer what Joba-esque? Just trying to gage if you are being bias because the Yankees’s closer at present date is not only the best, but the coolest.

    I know for me, I agree with you. But I know “I AM” bias.



    Interesting posting today, indeed. Still so great to have and savor Mo, when you think of all the Yahoos, then & now…still remember Mad Hungarian Hrabosky, back to the plate, super-psyching, slamming ball in glove…then turns a 180…great show if it works, but I guess that’s why they all showboat now AFTER the fact…sadly, Reggie Jax didn’t do the baseball (or sports) world any favors by saying, “It ain’t bragging if you can do it” [or was it “back it up”?]. Oh well…
    Not sure what to make of the 18-year-old Swede: for real or another crazy scam? Hope not; no time to check it out…
    As usual, another song title does it for me: William DeVaughn’s “Be Thankful For What You Got”…”just remember, brothers and sisters, you can still stand tall..”


    Melissa has a great point about those players who were guided by Joe Torre early in their careers. Unfortunately, I also agree with her decision to omit one player from that Yankee core group. I like Jorge, and the charity work he does off the field seems to be outstanding, but his occasional outburts against opponents, no matter how justified they may have been, keep him from being mentioned with Mo, Derek, Andy, and Bernie on this topic.

    Each of those guys shows class not only in victory, but also when things don’t go well. Blown saves and losses are a rarity for Mariano, but when they do occur, he quickly puts them behind him and looks forward to his next opportunity.

    Also a word about fans: A friend and his adult son got a chance to see their Mets play a three game series at Wrigley Field a few years ago. They wore Met hats and openly cheered for the Amazins, and he told me the Cub fans around him couldn’t have been a nicer bunch as the Mets spanked the Cubbies in the first two games.

    BUT the Cubs won game three, and those same fans, in the same section acted like total fools when their guys finally won a game, taunting these Met fans they were patting on the back for two days. My buddy summed up his experience, the Cub fans he met are great losers and classless winners.

    I know our side isn’t pure on this matter either, so I lay this out there as a cautionary tale.

  12. kozmo

    I’m with Mike on the pictures, Jane; great stuff.

    Good point in the comments on Bruney, too. K-Rod is a jerk.

    This reaffirms what I’ve said many times–there is Mariano, and there is everyone else. Among closers he has no peer, and to me is the best reliever ever, which says a lot.

    Jason from The Heartland

  13. Jane Heller

    Interesting reactions from everybody.

    Ana, it’ll be exciting when Mo finally starts revving up his spring training routine and pitches in a game. Then we’ll know the season has officially begun!

    A very big thought bubble, Mike. I certainly wasn’t thinking about the tolerance issue or world peace when I wrote the post. LOL. Of course there are pitchers/players with different styles, and it’s their individual personalities and quirks that contribute to our enjoyment of the game. My point was that closers who brag about how many saves they’ll have or how incredible they are usually end up with egg on their faces.

    I remember that near-miss between Bruney and K-Rod, A.J., and I think both were wrong. Bruney should have kept his mouth shut and K-Rod should have let the whole thing go. Fist pumping in and off itself isn’t the worst thing ever. I was just saying I prefer Mo’s way.

    HAHA, Mike. Yes, it is. Forgot to note that from the pic.

    You’re probably right, Rob. We’d love Mo even if it acted cocky – just not as much. He’s so talented and so understated about his talent that we can’t help appreciating his uniqueness.

    So you and Mo locked eyes, Courtney? LOL. Well, at least you had your “moment.” When I was following the team in ’07, I used to see him emerge from hotel lobbies with people screaming at him to sign balls. Most of the time he just quietly avoided everybody and walked to the team bus. I didn’t think too much of it, because the only one who regularly stopped to sign was Michael Kay!

    Gaberoth, you raise an excellent point. If the Yankees end up with a cocky closer who gets the job done with the same efficiency as Mo did, we’ll adore him. We all love a winner, and that’s the truth of it. But Mo’s demeanor will always stand out.

    I think you’re right, Melissa, that because baseball isn’t Mo’s be all end all, he can have some distance from the game and not get too caught up in the highs and lows. Not that he doesn’t celebrate when the Yankees win. Watching him drop to his knees after a World Series win is priceless. But he’s said over and over that he wants to be a minister in Panama when all this is over and that whatever happens on the mound is in God’s hands. And for the record, I loved Roy White too.

    Suzette, congratulations on your blog and your efforts on behalf of Stand Up to Cancer. Everyone should check it out. It’s legit and very worthy.

    Nope. Mo’s not getting any younger, Jeff. Every year I wonder if it could be his last, so I never take him for granted. Valverde could end up being the greatest closer the Tigers ever had, but somehow I doubt it.

    You were caught on the Jumbotron dancing to “Enter Sandman,” cheshirecat? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Would love to have seen that. OK, I’ll never apologize for deifying Mo. Ever. Whew.

    Mike, I think you’re raising the same point as gaberoth – very valid. Wouldn’t we embrace a Joba-esque, fist-pumping type if he were our closer – our very successful closer? Sure. But if given the choice, I’d take Mo’s way over any other.

    I can understand being a fan of the whole dramatic closer thing, Mike. I remember when I went to a Dodger game when Gagne was in his prime. It was very exciting when the music started playing and the lights started flashing and I felt like we were in the middle of a pay per view boxing match! It’s very show biz-y and gets the crowd pumped up. I love “Enter Sandman” for the same reason. But Valverde’s prediction could really come back to bite him.

    I don’t remember the Mad Hungarian, Dave. But I sure have read about him, and he must have been a hoot to watch. As for Reggie? He was never one of my faves – he defined cockiness – but the whole team was so dysfunctional in those days that he fit right in (sort of). The Swede’s blog is real and you should check it out if you have time. And I am SO thankful for Mo!

    I take your point about Jorge, jojovanb, but life would be awfully dull if we didn’t have a player or two with some spice! I like his fiery nature because it’s not boastful. He just gets “hot under the collar” at times. Ah, the fans. Your story rings so true. Unfortunately, the same thing could happen in any ballpark. When I was writing my book, I had a miserable experience with fans in Detroit, for example. And, as you point out, Yankee fans aren’t exempt from silly behavior.

  14. Jane Heller

    Oops. Didn’t see your comment in there, Jason. Sorry. You said it perfectly. There is Mo….and then there is the rest of the pack. I honestly believe I’d feel that way, even if I weren’t a Yankee fan.

  15. cheshirecat9

    By the way, I can confirm Courtney’s story. Mariano really did look at her and he was considering coming over but then turned and went in the dugout.

  16. irishsoxkid19

    As much as I hate the Yankees, especially after the WS win, I have a lot of respect for Mo. He is an amazing closer and will never be replaced. As for this guy who said “I’m amazing, look at me saving EVERY GAME!!” I just wanna laugh at him when he blows a save. You cannot look at a season before it starts and say ok, this is what I’m gonna do and make a huge deal over it like a little kid. Or a prima donna I should say.

  17. tenpmstriker

    Guys like Valverde and “K-Rod” are always good for a laugh out there on the mound, jumping around like monkeys. As you said, though, a little professionalism goes a long way.

  18. angelsgirl012

    I love Mo and his professionalism but I don’t think everyone should be like him. All pitchers are unique 🙂

    I’m not fan of cockiness but I don’t mind passion at all. Sometimes you need that. I’d rather have a little bit of controversy than jaded and what seems like apathy. Angels clubhouse for example is very mellow (maybe it’s because we’re in Southern California……). We have/had guys like Lackey, Torii and Frankie to fire up the team. Now that 2 out of the 3 is gone the club is still pretty mellow lol but then again that can also be seen as professionalism 😉 I love Frankie (he was an Angel for 6 years! :D) and his passion, sometimes people take that the wrong way. The passion usually comes from a good place so I don’t mind it.

  19. Jane Heller

    Thanks for the corroboration, cheshirecat. But I never doubted Courtney for a second. I just wish you’d taken a pic of her and Mo in their eye lock!

    Exactly, Holly. That was my point about Valverde and his comments to MLB. Once you start making that kind of proclamation about your season that hasn’t even started yet, you set yourself up for ridicule if it doesn’t pan out.

    They do make me laugh, Scott. And I guess they fire up their teams.

    I never suggested all closers should be like Mo, Mimi. As somebody said above, it’s nice to have variety and every personality is different. If K-Rod was good at firing up the Angels when he played for you guys, then I can understand why you loved him. His style just isn’t my cup of java.

  20. rrrt

    I think how well the cockiness thing is perceived is dependent on whether the player is on your side or not. There are lots of players that annoy the bejeesus out of me because of their on-field antics, but if they were a Phillie, I’d probably overlook it. It’s easier to swallow defeat at the hands of someone classy like Mo, than a K-Rod or Valverde.
    Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

  21. Jane Heller

    HAHA, Ryan. You can’t help how you feel. The question is, would you feel the same way if he became a Yankee? (I know, it’s a tough one.)

    So true, Sue. If they’re ours, we support them. On the other hand, it’s OK to have favorites versus guys we wish would disappear!!!

  22. Jane Heller

    Thanks, Emma. I’m glad a Dodger fan like you can appreciate Mo too. Nice to hear.

    Ditto to you, mlbthroughateen. It’s great to know that a Red Sox fan can tip a cap to Mo!

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