Mariano Rivera is entering what could be his final season in baseball. He has played his entire career with the New York Yankees. Rivera came up with the Yankees in 1995, he became a main reliever in 1996 and full time closer in 1997. If Buck Showalter knew what he had in Rivera in the 1995 playoffs the course of history may have changed. The Yankees lost in a tough and incredible five game series to the Seattle Mariners in first season of the ALDS. If Rivera pitched though the Yankees probably would have advanced and who knows what would of happened. Showalter may have not got fired, Mattingly may have had his ring and Joe Torre would of never become what he did.
Rivera in 1996 was an unbelievable setup man to closer John Wetteland. It became a six inning game. Rivera would pitch the seventh and eighth innings and just blow people away. Wetteland would scare you in the ninth but usually get the job done. The formula helped the Yankees win the World Series for the first time in 18 years and be the start of a dynasty. Rivera took over in 1997 and blew a save in that years ALDS. The Yankees lost but Rivera moved on and bounced back in a big way. He has blown other games, other very big games. He blew game seven of the 2001 world series but he has always been the same. I think the best attribute Rivera has is his ability to move on, it doesn’t matter how good or bad he is pitching he moves on to the next game. Rivera became the greatest closer in the history of the game. He is even better in postseason play. We are all watching history as we watch him and it will be great to one day say we saw him pitch. Rivera is a special player and baseball will never see another one like him.
Rivera in his career has a 2.21 career ERA and 603 saves to hold the all-time record. He has struck out 1,111 and has a career whip of 1.00. He is the last player to wear the retired #42 as it was retired across baseball for Jackie Robinson. Rivera will also have his number retired by the Yankees and be in Monument Park forever. Who knows he may even get his own monument, it wouldn’t surprise me and he is deserving. The Yankees wouldn’t have the five World Series they have won during his tenure if it wasn’t for him. He I would say has been the most valuable Yankee. That is no knock on all the other great players that have played alongside him, including his pals Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. They would probably tell you the same thing. Enjoy this year, soak it in every time you see him pitch on T.V. or in the stands. I would take plenty of pictures and remember every moment that you can, you will never see another one like Rivera. We have all been blessed to watch such a special player perform for so long.