On Thursday, a bad week for Yankees’ fans continued to get worse when they realized one of the iconic faces of the Bronx Bombers in the last 15+ years will reportedly announce his retirement after the 2013 season. Yes, “The Sandman”, Mariano Rivera will only grace Yankee fans with his cutter for one more season. Immediately, when you think Rivera, you think dominance. 42 postseason saves speak for itself, but one thing you have to value about the Sandman is his consistency.
Mariano never seemed to get too high after a big save or too low after blowing a save. Fortunately, its easy to re-call some of Rivera’s blunders. There was Sandy Alomar Jr. in the 1997 ALDS, Luis Gonzalez in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, and Dave Roberts’ stolen base in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. However, Mo was always there when the Yankees needed him the most.
I think back to 2009 when the Yankees were struggling to find a 8th inning set-up man during their run to the World Series. In the playoffs, all hands have to be on deck for any situation. In Game 2 of the World Series, the Yankees had to have a victory to avoid going down two games to none to the Philadelphia Phillies. That is when Rivera was able to record a six out save and basically save the series for the Yankees.
When Rivera announces his retirement on Saturday, it will allow the Yankees to begin the search for a new closer. Will it be David Robertson or Mark Montgomery from the internal side or a free agent coming in to be the heir apparent? Nevertheless, there can’t be a replacement that matches the sheer dominance Rivera brought to the mound night in and night out.
I am excited to see the unveiling of the retirement tour. We all saw the fanfare that former Braves’ third baseman Chipper Jones received in 2012. Now, we can imagine what the fanfare will be for Rivera’s last trip to Fenway, Citi Field, Dodger Stadium, and most importantly, his final game at Yankee Stadium. What gifts will Rivera receive from opposing teams?
Obviously, Yankee fans and players will want to give him another World Series Championship to send him off on a great note. Nevertheless, as you watch Yankees’ baseball in 2013, take time to reflect on your favorite Sandman moment because now you know that the career of the greatest closer and one of the greatest Yankee pitchers of all-time is coming to an end.