THE BRONX (April 6) -- Major League Baseball on Wednesday set April 8 as the date for the historic start of the conclave to elect a successor to Mariano Rivera, as the Yankees made final arrangements for the funeral of a great career that is expected to draw millions of Yankee fans and world leaders to the Bronx.
The decision came after the future Hall of Famer blew his second save in as many days against the team's biggest rival, the World Champion Red Sox, giving up five runs in the ninth, getting battered like a rented mule and ignominiously getting removed from the game in the middle of the inning, the fourth consecutive time he has blown a save to the Red Sox dating back to the 2004 ALCS. Fans at Yankee Stadium even booed the great closer on his way back to the dugout, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Yankee fans are headed to hell.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman said the Yankees would be sequestered in the team offices in the early afternoon to start the decision process for the next closer. Candidates include Oakland's Octavio Dotel, Detroit's Ugueth Urbina, current set-up man Flash Gordon, Rick Ankiel and Charlie Sheen. The Yankees will continue to use Rivera from the bullpen, but only in blowouts and games where the lead or deficit is six runs or more.
If none of the candidates gets the required two-thirds majority after about 12 days, the Yankee braintrust may change procedure and elect the closer by simple majority. The date was set on the third hour of preparatory meetings of Yankee front office people who have converged on the Bronx ahead of Friday's funeral and burial of Rivera's career.
Fans continued to flock to Yankee Stadium after Wednesday's game, jamming up streets as they waited to pay their final respects to Rivera, who has been lying in state of shock since the Red Sox hammered him off the field for the second straight day. More than 200,000 Yankee fans will have filed solemnly by the pinstriped body by the end of Wednesday night, at a rate of about 15,000-18,000 people an hour in a nearly around-the-clock procession, according to calculations by the Yankee front office.