The Legacy of New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera

By Michael Netter
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a sad day for New York Yankees fans. No sports fan is used to the conclusion of Bronx Bomber baseball before October. Even more shocking, the great Mariano Rivera will never step on a professional baseball mound ever again … that is, besides throwing out a first pitch.

Mo’s big league career began on May 23, 1995 when he was the starting pitcher. He allowed five runs in three innings and earned the loss. This game is the exact opposite of what his career represents. Rivera didn’t begin his career as a closer until 1997. He had two seasons under his belt before he even began his time as a ninth-inning beast, and he still managed to break the record of saves held previously by Trevor Hoffman. Scary, right?

The fact that Mariano was the last player to wear the number 42 is a representation of his legacy. 42, which was Jackie Robinson’s number, holds true value to the sport. Robinson’s widow has publicly said that she is happy that Rivera represents the number.

Mariano Rivera
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

When taking a look at Mo’s career, it’s easy to say that he could set a record for Hall of Fame votes when he’s eligible in about five years. Why? It’s simple. He’s clearly the best ever at what he did. There is no argument. Rivera is hands down the greatest closer of all time. Mo has the most career saves at 652, and from 1997-2011, he finished every season with more than 25 saves.

These 15 seasons exemplify his consistency in the ninth inning, and the Yankees are so thankful to rely on someone like Mo at the end of games.

The 13-time all-star has also posted some remarkable numbers in the postseason. Mo holds the record for most saves in the postseason with a total of 42, and also has the lowest ERA in postseason history with .70. Rivera has clinched a postseason series with a save a record-breaking nine times. Without Mariano, I doubt the Bronx Bombers would have won their five World Series during his era.

No. 42 in pinstripes will not only go down as the best closer of all time, but he may just have the best single pitch ever. His notorious cutter has killed opposing hitters throughout his mind-blowing career. The pitch reaches speeds in the 90s and acts as a slider in which it has a late movement towards or away from the hitter.

This sudden movement commonly results in broken bats. Mo first started using his cutter in 1998, and discovered it while playing catch with fellow pitcher Ramiro Mendoza. Ever since then, opposing hitters have been forced to deal with the best pitch in baseball — Mariano Rivera’s cutter, or cut fastball.

Derek Jeter
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

The career of Mariano Rivera will never be duplicated. He is clearly the best closer ever, and it’ll be nearly impossible for anyone to threaten such a claim. From World Series rings to shattering pitching records (and bats), the legacy of Mariano ‘Mo’ Rivera will forever live on.


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