Thank you, New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera

By James O'Hare
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Thank you, Mariano Rivera, for your dominance.

For 19 years and 652 saves. For putting out fires and slamming the door. For broken bats and broken dreams (the other teams’, that is). For innumerable clutch performances — and that’s just the regular season. Thank you for setting up one World Series title and closing out four more. For a 0.70 postseason ERA. For allowing the New York Yankees to only have to play eight innings for two decades. There is no statistic that can quantify how much you have meant to this team.

Thank you, Mariano, for your resiliency.

You are immortal in the eyes of the fans and seem invincible, but you know what it feels like to fail. We cannot forget the few times you got beat, because neither did you – you got better from them. You came back from 1997 with three straight championships. You came back from 2001 to pitch the Yankees into the 2003 World Series with three shutout innings in Game 7 of the ALCS. And when the Boston crowd gave you a sarcastic ovation at Fenway in 2005, you smiled, tipped your cap and silenced them with a save the following day. You repeatedly came back from defeat, culminating in your fifth ring in 2009. The Yankees may not have made the playoffs in your final, season but you are a champion nonetheless.

Most importantly, you came back from an ACL tear to pitch in 2013. You had another great year and allowed us to try to give something back – but nothing can equal what you’ve given us.

Thank you, Mariano, for your modesty.

In an era of overpaid stars and performance-enhanced egos, you have remained the epitome of humility. You never blamed anyone for losses. You just said you’d do better next time – and always did. You never claimed credit for wins. You just smiled and celebrated with your teammates and appreciated how lucky you were to even have the opportunity.

There is not a more respected player in the game right now, and no player will be missed more.

Thank you, Mariano.

James O’Hare is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @JimboOHare and add him to your network on Google.

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