KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Mariano Rivera has never met Jeurys Familia. But the legendary former Yankees closer can commiserate with what Familia went through after blowing the save in the Mets' 5-4, 14-inning loss in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday.
"It's not an easy position," Rivera said last night before Game 2 at Kauffman Stadium. "Every eye is on top of you, and that's on the field. Forget about TV. You feel like a little ant. I feel for the guys. I do. If you don't have the brain or the mentality to put it behind, that can be dangerous."
Most popular baseball stories
The Mets are not concerned with Familia's ability to put Alex Gordon's game-tying home run behind him.
"If it's 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Jeurys Familia will be standing on that mound," manager Terry Collins said. "That's just what you've got to do. And you've got to realize it's all part of the game."
No one knows that better than Rivera, who along with his many successes in the postseason also had a few failures: 1997 against the Indians in the ALDS, 2001 against the Diamondbacks in the World Series, and 2004 against the Red Sox in the ALCS.
Rivera, who said he is rooting for the Mets, said it pained him to learn about Familia's blown save.
"That's part of the game," Rivera said. "He's not invincible. We're all vulnerable. We're all human beings, not a machine. The question will be is how he's going to react after that, and we will see that when it happens. Because that's a big blow. But like I said, it's Game 1. You've got a lot of opportunities to do the job, and hopefully you've got the opportunity to do it again . . . When that happens, we'll see. Again, I've seen him pitch all year and he's done a tremendous job. He's been outstanding. We'll see after the next one."
Rivera was on hand to present the AL reliever of the year award (which is named after him) to current Yankees closer Andrew Miller. Also present in the room during the televised award ceremony was former Yankees manager Joe Torre and former setup man Jeff Nelson.
The NL award, which is named after ex-Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, was presented to Pirates closer Mark Melancon, who also is a former Yankee. Hoffman, whose all-time saves record was broken by Rivera, is eligible for the Hall of Fame for this first time on this year's ballot.