Friday, January 25, 2019

'The Cartel' author Don Winslow says 'The Border' sequel 'is going to make some people angry'

By Anthony Breznican
September 24, 2018

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For years, fans knew it only as “Cartel Part 3” — but now author Don Winslow is ready to reveal the secrets of The Border, his latest thriller about the nexus of drugs, politicians, and global crimelords.
“I know this book is going to make some people angry,” he says. “I can live with that.”
The novel is out Feb. 26, and EW has the exclusive cover reveal — as well as an interview with Winslow about how he builds his fiction on a foundation of truth. The author of Savages and The Force is no stranger to provoking strong responses, sometimes getting death threats over his work.
The Border is a follow-up to his 2005 novel The Power of the Dog and 2015’s The Cartel, continuing the saga about international law enforcement, merciless drug traffickers, the press trying to cover the carnage, and the everyday people trapped in the crossfire.
It’s the culmination of decades of research and writing, but The Border also brings us to the present day — exploring real-life corruption in Washington D.C., the opioid epidemic sweeping the U.S., a new generation of brutal narcos, and how Wall Street and real estate moguls have helped launder untold amounts of blood money.
The full cover and interview are below:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I know a great deal of your fiction is based on fact. What are some of the real-life incidents that inspired the new book?
DON WINSLOW: One of the things I try to do in The Border is to show, using the techniques of fiction, how Mexico fell even deeper into chaos not just following the extradition of Chap Guzman, but because of it. I use [fictional Sinaloa cartel kingpin] Adán Barrera’s death at the end of The Cartel to show that the power vacuum created in his absence spurs competitors and wannabes to try to fill the empty throne.
This is closely based on reality – in which Guzman’s family fell into conflict with each other, other elements inside the heretofore dominant Sinaloa cartel, and with other cartels who saw blood in the water and rushed in to attack. As a result, we swapped one wolf for a dozen coyotes.
I also have Art Keller [a DEA agent at the center of “Cartel” series] confront a culture of corruption within the United States – dirty money used to finance real estate deals that could compromise the government at the highest level.
Enough said.
You’ve written about the drug crisis as a journalist as well as a novelist. In 2016, you wrote an essay for Esquire that said marijuana legalization unintentionally created the opioid crisis, since the cartels needed a new illicit product to sell. Is that something you explore further in the new novel?
Absolutely — there’s a scene early in the book that flashed back to Adán Barrera taking his confederates out to marijuana fields and explaining that they’re losing money and need to go back to planting poppies for opium.
He says that the American pharmaceutical companies have created a market for opioids that the Sinaloa cartel can undercut with a cheaper and better product. And this is what happened.
I know you have lost people you care about to the opioid crisis. How did that personal loss influence this book? 
Deeply. I don’t know that a day goes by that I don’t think about these people, and I created a character in The Border, a young woman heroin addict, to try to take the reader behind the headlines to show a real human being — what an addict thinks, how she feels, what she goes through on a daily basis, how the addiction evolves.
It’s one thing to talk about the heroin epidemic as an abstract phenomenon, another to use the freedom that fiction gives to make it real and immediate, personal. That’s the great beauty of fiction, we can get inside the characters’ heads and hearts and hopefully let the reader feel a little of what they feel. I hope I did that well, I tried.
I owe that to the people who shared their lives with me and didn’t make it.
Is there ever any wish fulfillment in the fiction, a desire to deliver justice to those who often elude it in real life. Or is that an impulse you have to resist? 
Oh, there’s great wish fulfillment, but that’s a downside of fiction, isn’t it? The wish fulfillment isn’t real. But it’s not my job to deliver justice or even judgment.
My job is to bring the reader into a world that he or she otherwise couldn’t enter, so I have to keep it real. I can’t even fictionally deliver justice when there’s little or no chance that such justice could ever be rendered. I have to resist that impulse.
At the same time, it’s unrealistic to be continually pessimistic, so there are instances when I can choose for people to get their just desserts, as it were. For example, I’d have to admit that there was great satisfaction in killing Adán Barrera at the end of the last book. It felt really good.
How does it change things to dramatize these topics in fiction, as opposed to telling the facts through straight journalism? Is there something about the thriller narrative that makes it more compelling or accessible to readers?
Well, I think that it can be both. Some people who will not read journalism will read fiction, and vice versa. I find the best journalism to be compelling and accessible, but I think that fiction has certain freedoms that journalism doesn’t — or at least shouldn’t — take.
Basically, as novelists we’re allowed to make things up, to arrange events in a dramatic structure that real life doesn’t often have. We’re allowed to create dialogue and don’t have to rely on quotable quotes.
Most importantly, we can go into the inner lives of our characters — their thoughts and emotions, the “inner dialogue” that reveals so much. I was trained as a journalist and a historian, so I often have to remind myself that I’m writing a novel and not history, that I can rearrange chronology, be selective in what events I depict, and be creative with characters.
You’ve devoted decades of your life to this trilogy and writing about the issue of the war on drugs in general. Do law enforcement and political leaders seek your expertise? 
You know, I’ve actually spent a third of my life writing this trilogy. Which amazes me. Not many political leaders (assuming facts not in evidence) have contacted me, but I hear from cops all the time.
I’m humbled that my novels are used as textbooks in some departments and agencies, and I get calls from police departments to discuss drug policies, or sometimes they’re seeking insight into which DTO’s (Drug Trafficking Organizations) they might be seeing in their towns.
You’d be surprised, by the way, how many cops are for drug legalization.
Do they provide any insights in return that are helpful for your writing?
The communication is absolutely two-way. I have police sources who provide me with information and insights and have been extraordinarily generous in that regard. I could not have written these books without the cooperation of police officers all over the world.
As you mentioned, the main antagonist of the series met his end in The Cartel. How is the legacy of drug kingpin Adán Barrera still alive and well?
Adán is the noxious gift that keeps on giving — his legacy lives in the heroin epidemic, and the protagonist, Art Keller, is keenly and painfully aware that he might have rid the world of Barrera, only to have something worse take his place.
Adán becomes a narco-saint, replete with shrines and devotees and banners that read ‘Adán viva’. So his spirit is very much alive throughout the book — most of the characters are constantly reacting to his legacy, they’re trying to be the next him.
Let’s talk about Art Keller, now no longer a lone wolf field operative but a leader within the DEA. He has always been a hardened, damaged character who has lost and sacrificed a lot to do what he thinks is right. How comfortable is he in his new role?
Not at all. Keller is not a political animal, and this is a major factor in the book. Keller comes from a career spent entirely in the field, mostly on his own, taking action, and now he finds himself having to run a vast bureaucracy, dealing with politicians — senators and congressmen as well as a very hostile president.
He also has to deal with the media and the Internet world, all foreign to him. But he took the job to combat the heroin epidemic, and we frankly downplay his administrative duties to laser-focus on stopping the flow of heroin. The path he takes — basically “follow the money” — takes him deeper into conflict with the powers-that-be in Washington.
Since you’ve embedded him in the upper echelon of the DEA, does the book touch on the current political climate that has brought so much upheaval to the intelligence and law enforcement communities?
The current political climate is the heart of the book, it’s one of the big reasons that I wanted to write the book, to show how a corrupt and venal political climate is directly related to the heroin epidemic, mass incarceration, the disgrace of our immigration policies.
They’re all of a piece, as Keller discovers when he starts to unwind that tangled ball of yarn. He becomes, as they say, “embattled”, by Congress, certain elements of the media, Wall Street, his own attorney general, and especially by a president desperate to stop his investigation and who will use any means to destroy him.
There’s always a vast number of supporting characters in your books, so can you preview one or two in this one who are especially fascinating?
Well, there’s a kid, Nico, who is forced to flee his slum in Guatemala to try to make it into the United States to save his life. The obstacles that he faces are, sadly, drawn from real life, and he faces a horrific struggle just to get to the border.
I wrote the book before the current crisis involving Central American children being ripped from their parents, but the Nico chapters are very relevant. I really grew to love that character.
There’s another one, Ric, who is actually Adán Barrera’s godson. A party-going playboy, one of the Hijos — the sons of the cartel bosses who grew up rich and entitled, Ric has to decide between loyalty to his childhood friends or fealty to his father, Adán’s chosen successor, who is facing a rebellion. Again, it’s drawn from the actual story. I think that readers will be fascinated to see the lives of the new generation of drug traffickers.
I also brought back a couple of old character we haven’t seen since The Power of the Dog, but I think I’ll let the reader discover who they are and what roles they come to play in the current story.
Lastly, the title of the book — The Border — is a politically loaded phrase. And the cover shows a wall topped with razor wire. Why did you choose that for the name?
I chose that title because that’s what the story is about. Drug trafficking is about the border, immigration is about the border, the political conflict is about the border.
That’s the physical border, an external border, but the book is also about how every character confronts moral and emotional borders inside themselves, whether they choose to cross them or not, and, if they do, whether they can make it back.
Are you concerned about anyone misinterpreting your intention?
I understand that it’s a politically loaded phrase. But loaded phrases, like loaded guns, are more interesting, aren’t they? They certainly contain more threat. I never worry about anyone misinterpreting my intentions. My intentions in this book are pretty clear, but I think that each reader has a perfect right to his or her interpretation.
I know this book is going to make some people angry. I can live with that.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

You Can't Give A Lethal Injection To Criminals In New York But You Can Give It To Infants

January 23, 2019

Sarah Weddington (left), the attorney who represented "Jane Roe" in Roe v. Wade, sits with Governor Andrew Cuomo as he signs the RHA. Behind them are Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul. (Governor's Office)

As The Daily Wire reported, New York is set to legalize abortion through every stage of pregnancy. Once the bill is signed into law, it will be legal to kill a fully developed, pain-capable infant up to the very moment of birth.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, a fake Catholic who would be excommunicated if his bishop had half a spine, decided to celebrate this gruesome and genocidal law by ordering that the World Trade Center be lit pink. That building, you may recall, was built as a monument to the 3,000 people who died on 9-11. Now New York's despicable governor has turned it into a celebration of death. There is a race among Democrat politicians to see who can be the most depraved, cynical, and inhumane, and it seems that Cuomo has just surged ahead.
Also keep in mind that black babies in New York City are already more likely to be aborted than born. Apparently, that wasn't enough death and bloodshed to satisfy the psychopaths who comprise the New York state legislature. Will they be satiated when no minority children see the light of day? One wonders how high the pile of bodies must reach before these people will throw up their hands and say, "Okay, enough."
Apologists will argue that the new law only makes late-term abortion legal in cases where it will save the mother's life. The problem with this argument is that it is false on every conceivable level. First, the law allows for abortions to protect the woman's life "and health." What does "health" mean? Well, anything. The law conspicuously avoids defining the term. It seems that any kind of health concern would qualify — physical health, emotional health, psychological health, financial health. The point is that the "life and health" stipulation will not effectively prevent any woman from getting an abortion for any reason at any time.
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Second, late-term abortion is never necessary to protect a woman's life or health. No late-term abortion has ever been committed for the sake of saving a woman's life. It has never happened and will never happen. I repeat: there is never any circumstance, ever, where a late-term abortion is medically necessary. It could be necessary, in the case of some kind of cataclysmic complication, to remove the child from his mother's womb. But it is never necessary to kill the child before removing him. There is no medical reason to take that extra step of preemptively killing the child.
Just to drive home the point, here is how a late-term abortion — the kind of abortion just legalized in New York — is carried out: as it has been explained by a former abortionist, the baby is injected with a poison directly into his skull or torso. He then suffers a hideously painful death, which he will certainly feel because of his developed nervous system. The mother carries the corpse around in her womb for a day. The next day, there is an ultrasound to check if the baby is dead. If he isn't — if he has been writhing and suffering in agony for the past 24 hours, clinging onto life — then he will be injected again. The following day, the mother delivers her dead child. Sometimes she delivers him at the clinic, but if she can't make it on time, the clinic is perfectly happy to recommend that she give birth into her toilet.
The crucial fact is that a delivery must happen either way. If a mother in the third trimester decides she doesn't want or can't have her baby inside her, she is going to have to deliver him one way or another. The only question is whether she will deliver a dead child or a living one. Giving a lethal injection to the child may be the more convenient route, but it is certainly not the safer or healthier or more necessary one.
Speaking of lethal injection, in case you haven't yet grasped how twisted this law is, consider that capital punishment has been ruled unconstitutional in New York. You are not allowed to give a lethal injection to convicted serial killers, pedophiles, rapists, school shooters, or any other species of monster. But you can give a lethal injection to an infant. Indeed, you can only give lethal injections to infants in New York. The crime of child rape will not earn you the needle. The crime of being conceived in the wrong womb might. It is a capital offense, and you may well be made to suffer dearly for it.
God have mercy on us all. We certainly don't deserve it.

Trump Is Lucky in His Choice of Enemies

January 23, 2019
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2018 State of the Union Address
No matter when or where Donald Trump finally delivers his State of the Union speech—late last night, he gave up on the notion of an alternative venue and tweeted that the speech will take place in the House according to “history, tradition, and importance of the House Chamber,” after the shutdown is over—one thing is certain the President is lucky in his choice of enemies.
The Left, of course, thinks it has him on the run: his popularity can’t crack 50 percent, a Vichycon Republican majority foot-dragging during Trump’s first two years resulted in a grand total of bupkis, policy-wise (thanks, Paul Ryan!), and the progressive media has turned every news story—from BuzzFeed’s catastrophic confabulation about the Trump Moscow project to the innocent high schoolers in MAGA hats targeted for a classic propaganda stunt that’s now backfired badly—into an instant referendum on Trump. And yet he’s still standing.
That’s because Trump, as combative a personality who’s ever occupied the White House, thrives on conflict. While Washington is often called Hollywood for ugly people, few of the dullards, clods, clowns, rapscallions, and mountebanks who occupy seats in the Congress or in the hierarchies of their respective branches of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party have his flair for drama or his tolerance for high-stakes risk. These two things infuriate the PBFP and its media claque, a.k.a. the Washington press corps. The very things they despise about him, including his insouciant, gleeful rudeness, are the things that bind him to his base and his base to him. As far as the base is concerned, the enemy of my enemies is my president.
“Enemy” is a word that has almost dropped from the American vocabulary, to our great loss. In the days when we could name our enemies—the French and Indians, the British, the Barbary pirates, the Germans, the Japanese, the Germans again, the Russians—we could muster the will, the firepower and the sheer joy of destroying them. Since the end of World War II, and with the notable exception of Reagan’s victory in the Cold War (over the obstructions of the Democrats, naturally), we’ve been leery of “demonizing” everyone from the North Koreans to the Iranians to the Arabs and the Afghans, and instead have tried the near-useless methods of negotiation and a “peace process” that only serves to prolong indecisive conflicts in order to give full employment to lawyers, bureaucrats, the State Department, and the Clinton Foundation.
Ah, but now once again decent Americans who believe in the country as founded—and not in the crackpot fascist world of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or their ilk—have enemies they can relish, as well as a champion who enjoys giving battle.
Domestically, foremost among them at the moment is Maerose Prizzi, princess of Baltimore, who learned her ethics and morality at the feet of her father, Tommy d’Alesandro, Jr., quaintly described as a “machine politician” in his obituaries. Pelosi’s battle with Trump erupted in full tit-for-tat glory this month when she disinvited him from giving the SOTU and then, when Trump said he was going ahead with it anyway, vowed not to let him on the floor of the House as long as the government continued in partial shutdown. Trump’s sudden and disappointing capitulation to the Speaker Wednesday night has temporarily ended the tussle, but the fact remains that whenever he gives the speech, Pelosi—sitting behind him, next to Vice President Pence—will still look petty and churlish, while Trump stands gloweringly in front of the Sour Patch Kids across the aisle, making them feel America’s pain for having put the country through this.
As for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), he manages to be both snarling and unctuous at the same time, a born villain who plays the part perfectly. Shorn of his mini-me protégé, Carlos Danger, Schumer has seemed far less cocky than in those glorious early days when the sky was the limit for Anthony Weiner, now just the punch line to an evening of dirty jokes having to do with his surname.
Meanwhile, in the socialist workers paradise to the south known as Venezuela, the administration has pulled the rug out from under “president” Nicolas Maduro and in the wake of an obviously fraudulent election, has recognized his opponent, Juan Guaidó, as the legitimate head of state. Caracas is burning and it’s only a matter of a very short time before Maduro meets the fate of other tinpots: as a refugee in some Third World hellhole or as a corpse, stood up against a wall and shot.
That this is all happening during the media-fueled ascendancy of the bird-brained Ocasio-Cortez is just one of those lucky accidents. Maduro and his late predecessor, Hugo Chavez, have done as thorough a demolition job on what was once Latin America’s most prosperous country, rich in oil and other natural resources, but unfortunately subject to the same toxic caudillo culture blended with the kind of half-baked Marxist theory that has rendered most every former Spanish colony in the Americas a kleptocratic basket case. When Maduro goes, Trump needs to make what happened to Venezuela an object lesson for all Americans, so that we never fall for the siren song of “never really been tried” and instead say, “been there, done that, got the t-shirt.”
In Europe, Trump has forced the western Europeans—led by who else but the Germans again—to harden their immigration-at-all-costs stance, thus handing the balance of patriotic power over to the Visegrad Group (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia) and other small nations in the region desirous of maintaining their own cultural identities. Their grit and determination in the face of the usual taunts of “racism” have now inspired other countries, such as Italy, to rediscover the meaning of their pasts and kindled a determination to salvage their future in the face of a semi-unarmed invasion from the Middle East into the heart of historic Christendom.
In Asia, Trump has stood up to China’s expansionism, at least temporarily tamed its North Korean house pet, Li’l Kim, and reassured our principal ally, Japan, that we’re not about to abandon them to the Red Dragon. Trump’s tariff war with the Chinese (whose own economy is something of a Potemkin village) is paying dividends in their willingness to buy $1 trillion worth of American goods and reduce its trade surplus with the United States to zero by 2024—coincidentally, near the end of what will be Trump’s second term.
A showdown over the State of the Union? Possible military intervention in Caracas to protect American lives and property while a socialist dictator is deposed? By the time this is over, Democrats will be begging for the return of Vladimir Putin and the Russian collusion bear.
And don’t even get me started on Michael Cohen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019


By Derek Jeter
January 22, 2019

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I heard a stat the other day and it blew my mind:
In human history, more people have walked on the moon than have scored an earned run off of Mariano Rivera in the postseason.
Sounds crazy, right? But it’s true.
According to NASA, 12 people have had the privilege of walking on the moon.
According to Baseball Reference, 11 people have scored an earned run off of Playoff Mo.
And while no statistic could ever truly encapsulate Mariano, I figure this one is as close as we’re going to get. Because I think it really gives you a sense of what sort of greatness we’re dealing with, when it comes to Mo. It’s hard to compare him to other closers — in fact, it’s hard to compare him to other pitchers.
Mariano is just on another level.
The thing I respect most about Mo is that what you see is what you get.
A lot of people I’ve met over the years, they’ve asked me what Mariano Rivera is like off the field. And I’ll tell you what I tell them — which is that he’s pretty much the same person you watched for all those years on the mound.
There’s no “persona” with Mariano. He’s never had a character that he portrayed. He’s always just calmly and coolly done his thing. He’s quiet. Thoughtful. Intense. He’s a man of faith.
He has an incredible eye for detail.
Have you ever seen a Mariano Rivera autograph? Google it when you get a chance. With a lot of guys, their signatures are these quick little scribbles. But Mariano, man, if he’s signing something for you, he takes his time. He puts care into it, until he gets it just right — like with everything else he does. To me, right there … that’s Mo.
And like I said: It was always the same thing on the mound. There wasn’t much mystery if you were facing Mariano Rivera. No smoke and mirrors — nothing to hide. The scouting report was the same every time. Mo knew he was going to throw that cutter. The guy at the plate knew he was going to throw that cutter. Fifty thousand plus at Yankee Stadium knew he was going to throw that cutter.
And it wouldn’t matter.
Because Mo wasn’t trying to trick you.
And in the end, like it or not, he was just going to flat-out beat you.
During my first full season in the minors, when I was 18—19 years old, Mariano was coming back after having had surgery on his arm. So one of the things I’d do from shortstop was keep track of Mo’s pitch count.
And although eventually I stopped counting his pitches, it’s funny — in a way, I never stopped being that 18-year-old kid. Because for all of the amazing things that happened to me over those next 20 years with the Yankees, I never stopped being aware of this one: that on any given night…. if we could just get ourselves a lead….
I had the best seat in the house to watch the greatest closer of all time.
Hall of Fame teammate. Hall of Fame person.
And now, officially, a Hall of Fame player.
Congratulations, Mariano, and the rest of this year’s class.

Mariano Rivera personified grace. Inside lurked a monster competitor

By Buster Olney
January 22, 2019

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Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera after the 2009 World Series (Getty Images)

In Mariano Rivera's playing days, he believed, as a general rule, that you shouldn't fraternize with opposing hitters. At All-Star Games, he was polite to his temporary teammates, especially the pitchers, but he wasn't really into hanging out with the sluggers.
Rivera -- who became on Tuesday the first player ever elected unanimously to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA -- believed you should keep your emotions locked down in success or failure. When you won, you should act like it was the expected result, and if you lost, you should never, ever allow an opponent to think they had accomplished more than just winning that day's game.
As the Diamondbacks swarmed the field to celebrate Luis Gonzalez's series-winning bloop single in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, Rivera walked off the field at the same pace as in those hundreds of instances he clinched a save and moved to the catcher to exchange a handshake. His expression never really changed as he stepped into the visitors dugout, or when he responded to dozens of questions in the clubhouse afterward. This was the gracious face of Rivera that fans and opponents came to know and respect.
And it was a façade.
A mask. To cover for the monstrous, uncharitable competitor that resided within the right-hander. When Rivera is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, the greatest hitters in the world will surround him on the dais, and if you gave the right-hander truth serum, he almost certainly would tell you he could've dominated any of them on their best day.
I learned this about Rivera in the four seasons I covered the Yankees as a beat writer for The New York Times. Rivera was uniformly genial in the clubhouse, easy with a laugh and mostly measured in his words. But there were moments in which the ambitious, cutthroat antagonist escaped.
Rivera pitched 141 innings in the postseason, about the equivalent of two regular seasons of work for a fully deployed reliever, and in all of that time, he allowed two homers. Jay Payton of the Mets hit the second of those, in the 2000 World Series, in the midst of a rally that fell short in Game 2. Rivera made 63 playoff and World Series appearances after that and didn't allow another.
The first homer Rivera allowed in his 86 postseason games was hit by Sandy Alomar Jr. of the Indians, in a pivotal playoff moment in 1997. This was at the end of Rivera's first season as the Yankees' closer, in Game 4 of the American League Division Series. In a best-of-five series against the Indians, the Yankees led two games to one, and in the eighth inning of Game 4, they were ahead 2-1. When manager Joe Torre summoned Rivera to pitch, the Yankees were five outs away from advancing, in pursuit of what would have been the first back-to-back titles in the majors since the 1975-76 Reds.
In Rivera's first seasons as a reliever, he threw in the mid-90s, his fastball sometimes registering above that, in those days when some radar guns emitted numbers higher than others. With two outs, the Indians catcher stepped in to bat. Rivera whipped a fastball over the outside part of the strike zone, at 94 mph, and Alomar, a right-handed hitter, drove it to right field, a high fly ball. Paul O'Neill retreated to the wall, feeling for the fence, thinking he might have a shot for a leaping catch.
But the ball carried over O'Neill's glove, into the extended hands of the fans sitting in the first row of seats. (You can see the home run here.) O'Neill slammed his glove onto the warning track, in a moment that might make Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez feel a little better about what he did in Game 4 of last year's World Series. Alomar raised both arms over his head, circling the bases with the game-tying run.
Cleveland scored again in the ninth inning to win that game, and the Indians prevailed again in Game 5 to eliminate the Yankees, and one of the primary storylines that hovered over Torre's team in the spring training that followed was whether Rivera would recover emotionally from that failure. Many closers had seemingly lost their confidence after a postseason moment like Rivera experienced, from the tragic example of Donnie Moore to others like Calvin Schiraldi and Mark Wohlers.
When Rivera first appeared at Yankees camp, he was asked about the Alomar homer, and when national writers circulated through New York's camp in Tampa in the days to come, he was asked about it some more. In 1998, the Yankees won 64 of their first 84 games, on their way to 114 regular-season victories. But all summer long, Rivera continued to hear the same questions and give the same polite answers. The Yankees clinched a playoff spot before September, leaving a month of columnist assessment about a possible Achilles' heel in this juggernaut -- and of course, the greatest unknown was whether the second-year closer might have a crisis of confidence once the team played meaningful games in October again.
I must've heard Rivera patiently respond to those questions a dozen or so times, and after mulling over the consistency of his answers, I stopped by his locker one day very late in the season.
That Alomar home run really doesn't bother you, does it?
"No," he said, the tone of his voice changing, sort of like Linda Blair's did in "The Exorcist." The stately curtain of comportment had just dropped, and the untethered Rivera launched emotional projectiles from deep within his competitive heart.
"You know why? Because I made that home run."
At first, I wasn't sure what he meant; I wasn't sure if he was kidding.
He wasn't.
made Alomar's home run, he reiterated.
Rivera explained. He had thrown his fastball -- one of the best in baseball at that time, when a mid-90s fastball wasn't common -- over the outside corner. Alomar, the unvarnished Rivera said, stuck out his bat. Alomar had hit the ball squarely, he allowed, but it wasn't like he'd taken a big hack, and the ball had barely carried over O'Neill's glove and the right-field wall.
The power of that home run, Rivera concluded, was generated by Rivera. Not Alomar. As far as Rivera was concerned, he created Alomar's home run. Rivera, and not Alomar, had controlled the moment.
I walked away awed by his instinctive mental gymnastics that so easily somersaulted him to a place of emotional comfort.
Alomar's home run, as it turned out, was the lone pivotal postseason home run Rivera surrendered in his entire career. Five hundred twenty-seven batters faced in the playoffs and the World Series, and just 11 earned runs. A 0.70 ERA.
Those numbers are impossible, constructed on more than his ability to spin a cut fastball with unusual movement. Hopefully, the Hall of Fame can find room for the phrase "Mental Ninja" on the plaque of arguably the greatest postseason performer in baseball history.

A cut above ... Mariano Rivera built a Hall of Fame career thanks to his signature pitch and a foundation of humility and faith

By Bill Madden
January 23, 2019

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To fully appreciate the phenomenon that was Mariano Rivera, you must first come to terms with one central, unbelievable fact: All of the records he accumulated in becoming the first relief pitcher elected on the first ballot to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association – 652 career saves, 0.759 WHIP, 952 games finished, 0.70 postseason ERA, 11 World Series saves – were largely accomplished with just one pitch.

Oh sure, when he first came up to the big leagues in 1995 – as a starter – he had the standard repertoire of fastball, slider and what Yankee GM Gene Michael said at the time, “a helluva changeup.” But sometime shortly thereafter, when an electrifying three relief appearances against the Seattle Mariners in the 1995 American League Division Series - in which he struck out eight and allowed only four baserunners in 5 1/3 innings of shutout ball - determined his future as a back end reliever, he pretty much abandoned all those pitches in favor of the signature deceptive cutter that opposing hitters unanimously agreed was virtually unhittable.

“His mechanics are perfect,” Andy Pettitte once said when asked about Rivera’s greatness, “and he only throws one pitch.”

At one point at the end of his career, it was calculated that Rivera threw his cutter 92 percent of the time. What Hoyt Wilhelm’s knuckler was to the '50s and '60s, and Bruce Sutter’s splitter was to the '70s and '80s, Rivera’s cutter was the revolutionary reliever’s weapon from 1996-2011. There has never been anything like it, before or after. Former Kansas City Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney perhaps best summed up the essence of Rivera’s unhittable pitch: “You know it’s coming, but you also know what’s coming in horror movies too. It still gets you.”

“Everybody asks about it,” Rivera said, “but I always know something – that when God gives you something, it’s for you. I have taught a lot of people about the cutter, how to do it. But it’s mine. God gave it to me. Nobody can throw it the same way. Nobody. That’s it.”

Of course, it would be disingenuous to suggest there was nothing more to Rivera than just one pitch. Above all, there was his ice cool demeanor, an obliviousness to pressure, an uncommon humility and his spiritual devotion. He knew how good he was, but it was never about him. It was always about team and the glory of God.

He often talked about David, the Biblical one, another righthander of some renown who slew Goliath with his slingshot, and was the person he most modeled himself after because, “he was a king but he knew what his source was – the Lord – and he was also a humble man.”

Another time, in talking about his dirt-poor childhood in Panama, where he learned to play baseball with a glove made of cardboard, he elaborated: “Let me tell you where it comes from. It comes from the Lord. I know where I came from. I know what I have and what I didn’t have. It was because God allowed it to happen. Because He blessed me. Simple as that.”

Humility was always at the center of all of Rivera’s career highlights. On the occasion of his 300th save, Yankee manager Joe Torre presented him at his locker with the umpires’ lineup cards after the game. “Just put it on the chair,” Rivera said matter-of-factly. Later, he would explain: “Don’t get me wrong. It’s something to appreciate and it’s nice to have it. But there are other things to win.” Five years later, he recorded his 500th save, this one with an extra flourish, drawing a bases-loaded, ninth-inning walk from Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez for his first major league RBI. After recording the final four outs of the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Mets, his teammates rejoiced all around a grinning Rivera in the clubhouse. “The save was nice,” he said. “I’ve been blessed to have a lot of them. But the RBI was the best.”

Through it all, even after the very few crushing disappointments – the home run to Cleveland’s Sandy Alomar that took the Yankees out in the 1997 American League Division Series, the errant throw to second base that set in motion the Arizona Diamondbacks’ winning rally in the 2001 World Series – he was able to wrap his emotions in humility. “I still think that was the best World Series we played in,” he said later of the epic defeat in Arizona – a subtle reference to the Yankees’ three stirring victories in New York that lifted the spirits of everyone in the city in the wake of 9/11.

Only rarely has he let his emotions flow publicly – think the iconic photo of him hugging Yankee manager Joe Girardi and dissolving in tears after coming off the mound in his final game, Sept. 26, 2013 – and undoubtedly we will see snapshots of them again between now and when he makes his acceptance speech in Cooperstown next July. Be assured, however, it doesn’t matter a whit to him that he became the first player to be voted into the Hall of Fame unanimously by the Baseball Writers.

There is only one Hall of Fame in which Mariano Rivera wants to be defined and that’s God’s Hall of Fame, where he’s already assured first ballot entry.


Mariano Rivera unanimously elected to Baseball Hall of Fame class that includes Mussina, Halladay and Martinez »

The Mariano Rivera I know: The Yankee legend, unchanged by wealth and fame, lives his faith »

Matthews: Mariano Rivera was always a Hall of Famer »

That time Mariano Rivera nearly became a Marlin and more Hall of Fame moments »

Mariano Rivera: Perfect choice for 1st perfect Hall of Fame ballot

January 22, 2019
Image result for mariano rivera new york post
Cheers to the perfect candidate for perfection.
Well, look, if you want to get all wonky about Mariano Rivera becoming the first player to ever gain unanimous Hall of Fame election on the writers’ ballot, then yeah, you can point out the silliness of the legendary Yankees closer succeeding where Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and everyone else failed.
Yet the world’s changing times brought us to this moment, and could baseball field a better symbol for perfection in 2019 than Mo?
Humble. Generous. Funny. Spectacular at his work, ordinary in his manner.
“He was such a class act,” Tino Martinez, Rivera’s Yankees teammate, said in a statement released by the team. “He never showed up a batter after striking someone out or retiring the final batter of the game.”
Added Yankees general manager Brian Cashman: “Mo was always someone who I could point to and say, ‘That’s what a Yankee should be like.’ ”
In a conference call Tuesday night, Rivera said, “I think that comes from back home, remembering where I came from and never forgetting where I came from. Because I was the New York Yankees’ closer, or we were winning or losing, that would never change my way to treat people and respect people and react to the game itself.”
His is indeed a rags-to-riches story, signed out of his native Panama for a $2,500 bonus, undergoing major right elbow surgery while still in the minor leagues and not making his big-league debut until age 25 (and not recording the first of his record 652 saves until age 26). Any young, aspiring athlete can read the Rivera tale and feel uncompromisingly inspired by it.
That goes double for the way he conducted himself. Good luck trying to find anyone in the game who will speak a disparaging word about Rivera, whose sublime tranquility as he jogged from the Yankee Stadium bullpen to the mound belied the soundtrack (Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”) that accompanied him.
Added another longtime teammate, Bernie Williams: “He was also one of those old school players that took it upon himself to take care of young players. He would take rookies to dinner, talk to them about life as a major leaguer and how to carry yourself. He was always very embracing of the young blood on the team, a great teammate.”
It wasn’t just how Rivera performed when he closed out the save, smiling and shaking the hand of his catcher without the histrionics. On the rare occasions when he blew a save, he made sure to stand at his locker shortly after the clubhouse opened to the media, taking accountability for his failure and reminding us that he was only human.
That humanity defined him, ultimately. During his final season, 2013, Rivera made a point to tour each visiting ballpark and meet with the stadium’s behind-the-scenes workers before games. It was a truly extraordinary endeavor, never attempted before or since. It spoke to the respect he held for the game and his Earth cohabitants.
You could offer similar praise about the way Aaron and Mays conducted themselves. They just arrived too early for the ultimate unanimity. Their names came up during a time when voters could fill out their ballots in relative anonymity and not worry about an unpopular opinion leading to a social media beatdown. This cushion afforded some voters the luxury of clinging to ridiculous notions like never voting for a first-year candidate.
And so Mays fell short on a remarkable 23 ballots, Aaron on nine and — three years ago — Ken Griffey Jr. on three, setting a new peak with 99.3 percent.
Rivera picked the right time to get on the ballot. And the writers picked the right guy to set the un-toppable ceiling.
“It was amazing, amazing,” Rivera said of his 100 percent approval rating. “ … I can’t even describe it or put it in words.”
Rivera might not have been quite perfect when it came to save opportunities. For this honor, though, in this time? The right word, for sure, is perfect.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Drumbeat of the Mob

By Mark Steyn
January 21, 2019

Image result for nathan phillips maga

~Guest-hosting for Rush on Friday, I mentioned the strange need of the right to virtue-signal to their detractors - as in the stampede of Congressional Republicans to distance themselves from their colleague Steve King over an infelicitous interview with The New York Times. Democrats never do this; Louis Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam declare that the Jews are pushing defective marijuana on black men in order to turn them gay - which would appear to be a prima facie slur on at least four Democrat constituencies: blacks, gays, Jews and potheads. Yet Clinton, Obama et al speak not a word against Calypso Louie.

There was another conservative virtue-signaling stampede over the weekend. A short video from the Lincoln Memorial went "viral" (notwithstanding its ubiquity, I'm keeping the word in scare-quotes because, like any other virus, this one should be contained): it purported to show a group of Catholic schoolboys in MAGA hats harassing an elderly Native American drummer. The lads were instantly identified as students from Covington Catholic High School, which I'd never heard of but is clearly the kind of tony white-privilege joint where they book Brett Kavanaugh to spike the punch at the gang-rape prom. So naturally social media instantly convicted them and moved on to the usual doxing and death threats. The school itself leapt to dissociate itself from its own pupils and threatened to expel them.

Midst the present fevers, my advice and practice is that, when the media are in lockstep on a particular "narrative", proceed with caution and, if you must join the great thundering herd of independent minds, tag along at the tail end out of sight. A genuinely conservative temperament should be wary of crying "Me too!" and scampering after the media-Democrat-cultMarx bandwagon - if only because, regardless of the wrongs and rights, no true conservative should assist in furthering the nano-second due process of trial by social media, through which whole lives are destroyed by the reflex twitching drive-thru jury of Twitter. "Sentence first - verdict afterwards," said Alice's Queen. Hang him high - and we'll figure out later what, if anything, he's guilty of. That's about as deeply unconservative a proposition as one could find. The cure is worse than whatever disease (racism, sexism, transphobia, Islamophobia) it claims to be healing.

Yet, instead of a prudent skepticism, my former colleagues at National Review joined the stampede and decided to get way out in front of the story. My old friend Jay Nordlinger wasanguished:
The images of those red-hat kids surrounding and mocking that old Indian are unbearable. Absolutely unbearable. An American disgrace.
Of course, the virtue-signaling availed him naught from fellow Tweeters. Alex Natt:
'Old Indian'?
Tracy Kennedy:
Yeah, 'Native American man' or 'Indigenous Man' or even 'Vietnam Vet'...
National Review decided to up their game and published a piece by their deputy managing editor, Nicholas Frankovich (presumably the assistant to Jason Lee Steorts), with the arresting headline:
The Covington Students Might as Well Have Just Spit on the Cross
Unfortunately for the scolding schoolmarms of the right, the facts were not as they appeared to be from that brief clip. Over at Reason (with hindsight, a better name for a magazine than I used to think it was), Robby Soave watched the two hours of surrounding footage, and found - surprise, surprise! - that it told an entirely different story:
Far from engaging in racially motivated harassment, the group of mostly white, MAGA-hat-wearing male teenagers remained relatively calm and restrained despite being subjected to incessant racist, homophobic, and bigoted verbal abuse by members of the bizarre religious sect Black Hebrew Israelites...
They call them crackers, faggots, and pedophiles. At the 1:20 mark (which comes after the Phillips incident) they call one of the few black students the n-word and tell him that his friends are going to murder him and steal his organs. At the 1:25 mark, they complain that "you give faggots rights," which prompted booing from the students. Throughout the video they threaten the kids with violence, and attempt to goad them into attacking first. The students resisted these taunts admirably: They laughed at the hecklers, and they perform a few of their school's sports cheers.
Under sustained crude and obnoxious provocation, the boys were remarkably good-humored throughout - a credit to the school that threatens to expel them.

Halfway through, Jay's "old Indian" decided to insert himself in between the Black Hebrew Israelites and the MAGA cracker-faggot-paedo schoolboys, and start his "Native American drumming". A little ethnic drumming goes a long way with me. Have you ever heard that Japanese taiko drumming? It's not exactly Buddy Rich. So I wouldn't welcome someone doing it in my face, and needless to say, if a white male drummer (from the Edinburgh Tattoo, say) went up to some black kids and started drumming, it would be a hate crime.
Nathan Phillips, on the other hand, is a revered tribal elder - so revered he plays one in a "music" video that has 380 million hits (best to hit the mute button before pressing play):

Almost nothing about this story is as reported. Jay Nordlinger's "old Indian" isn't that old: he was born in 1955, which, not to be ungallant or anything, puts him in slightly-older-brother territory to Jay - who has known some seriously old men, like the recently departed Bernard Lewis, born 1916. Nathan Phillips seems to be some sort of Native American version of Quaker Oats pitchman Wilford Brimley, who's been playing old since Cocoon in 1985, when he was barely fifty yet was cast as a contemporary of Don Ameche, Hume Cronyn, Jack Gilford and other chaps three decades his senior. In fact, Steve Sailer wonders if Nathan Phillips is, in fact, a "Vietnam vet", at least in the quaint and possibly obsolescent sense of having been in the vicinity of Vietnam while wearing a military uniform. All US forces were withdrawn in March 1973, when Mr Phillips would have been either a few weeks past his eighteenth birthday, or still seventeen and in drum school.

Curious. But, as the appellate judges say (hey, welcome to my world), we need not reach the merits of Mr Phillips' antiquity, because long before that question arises the official media narrative turns out to be thoroughly bogus. This was just another fake hate crime - I believe you can do a Master's in them at Oberlin. My old boss at National Review, Rich Lowry, has deleted his Tweet, as has Jay Nordlinger (seconding Rich with a somewhat perfunctory "same here"), and the spit-on-the-Cross piece by their hysterical junior editor has disappeared from the website. By contrast, over at The New York Times, the in-house conservative, Ross Douthat, can rouse himself to no more than ecumenical scolding:
Good rules for life: Don't let your Catholic school's students wear MAGA hats on a field trip for the March for Life.
Don't *immediately* make a teenager a symbol of everything you hate about your political enemies based on a short video clip. Give it a day at least.
That doesn't quite do it for me. What's disturbing about this fake hate crime is not that the Twitter mob scented blood in its nostrils and went bounding after its prey, but that a big chunk of Conservative Inc piled on, as enthusiastically as the left. And Jay Nordlinger's finger-wagging about an "American disgrace" is absurd in its sanctimony: However you wish to characterize a professional tribal elder intervening in a showdown between upscale Catholic private-school pupils and "Black Hebrew Israelites", it isn't an "American" disgrace. An American disgrace is the declining life expectancy of white males due to addiction, or the collapse of the family in rural America, or a bipartisan political class admitting millions of unskilled illegal immigrants to the country so that MS-13 gangs are now a fact of life in suburban Long Island in order that the Dems can get voters and the GOP's donors can get cheap labor ...or any one of a ton of other "American disgraces" Conservative Inc doesn't talk about because it only takes to the field on the left's terms.

I talked on Rush last Friday about the folly, in philosophical terms, of always accepting your opponents' premises, even unto accepting and advancing the notion that "western civilization" is hate speech. How is that in the interest of even the most milquetoast and watery version of "conservatism"?

But accepting not just your opponents' framing of the argument but their most repulsive totalitarian rituals is even worse. The Orwellian Twitterstorm is something utterly disgusting: It reduces man to a cyber-jackal, feasting on whatever prey is tossed in his path. I have argued, at some length, that you cannot have truly conservative government in a liberal culture. Culture is like air - it's all around, and you don't even think about it. So we live in an age of social-media feeding frenzies that can vaporize a fellow's Oscar-hosting gig or drive an unfortunate porn actress to suicide. There is nothing in the least bit "conservative" about such a world: It's like the young student in Milan Kundera's great novel of Warsaw Pact totalitarianism, The Joke, facing the party committee and wondering why none of his friends will speak up for him - except that it's now at Spaceballs Ludicrous Speed, and the respectable right cannot even bring itself to forgo the pleasure of getting played for saps. Every time.

~We had a busy weekend at SteynOnline starting with a few Rush moments, a Pennsylvania radio appearance, and Howard Dean Canadianizing his "I have a scream" epic. Our Saturday movie date offered my two favorite Cate Blanchett film scenes, and our Sunday song selection bounced the buckboard with "Buttons and Bows". If you were too busy preparing for a hard Brexit, soft Brexit or adjustable-sleep-number Brexit all weekend long, I hope you'll want to catch up with one or three of the foregoing as a new week begins.

My appearance on WPHT was, of course, in service of Dennis Miller's and my impending arrival in the Keystone State together on stage for the first time. We'll be starting the tour next month in Reading, Pennsylvania and later hitting the pronunciation minefield of Wilkes-Barre. And remember that with VIP tickets you not only enjoy the best seats but you get to meet Dennis and me after the show.

Catch you on the telly tonight with Tucker - and live across the planet for Clubland Q&A at 4pm North American Eastern/9pm GMT on Tuesday.