Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mariano Rivera-The Greatest Of All-Time

Mariano Rivera on Monday afternoon in a makeup game against the Minnesota Twins set the record for most all-time saves.  Rivera didn't need this record to validate himself as the greatest of all-time.  I think he was anointed that about five or six years ago and who can argue that.  There could always be someone to argue it but now you can backup your argument with the fact that no one else in the history of baseball has saved as many games as Rivera.  I know the save stat didn't come into existance until 1969 but that all doesn't matter.  Rivera is simply the best and what an athlete and man also. 

I have had the great privelage of watching Rivera since day one.  I don't know if I have seen every single save he has ever had but I have come pretty close.  I have seen many in the Old Stadium and now the New Yankee Stadium.  I have seen most of the others on T.V.  If I missed a few it was because of some big event such as a wedding or a christening or something like that where I couldn't miss. 

Rivera came up to the Yankees in 1995 and of course if they knew what they had then, they would of never lost that five game epic ALDS against the Seattle Mariners.  In 1996 he was a setup man for John Wetteland the closer.  Rivera would usually come in and pitch the seventh and eighth innings and just blow guys away with a 95mph + fastball and of course great command.  He would mow the hitters down and then Wetteland would make you sweat it out but the formula worked.  The Yankees in that magical season made it a six inning game.  It was the Yankees first World Series win in 18 years since the 1978 Yankees. 

Rivera took over the closer role in 1997 and has been there ever since.  I am sure not a lot of people remember but he actually blew three out of his first six save oppurtunities or something like that.  There was some panic and he was asked about it.  Rivera said he will be just fine and he has been more then that.  Rivera has been a picture of consistency in a job where guys last maybe a couple of years, maybe five or six if they are lucky at the top of their game.  Rivera is in his 40's now and still has 42 saves this season.  I find it ironic that he saved his 42nd game of the season the day he broke the record.  He of course is the last man wearing that number as it is retired across baseball. 

Rivera has one more year on his contract left but you can see him pitching longer then that if he wanted too.  I would think he will retire at the end of next season but he just seems like he could do it forever, it is so effortless.  Has he been perfect of course not but the amazing thing is when he has blown a save or still does you are in shock, that proves how good he really is.  Rivera is known for three big blown saves but he has been able to come back from them all.  In 1997 against the Cleveland Indians he gave up a big homerun to Sandy Alomar Jr. to lose the ALDS.  In 2001 he had a blown save in game seven to lose the World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks and in 2004 they had the epic collapse against the Red Sox and he blew a save in Game four where Dave Roberts stole a base and then the Yankees never recovered. 

Rivera is simply the best and congratulations to him on setting the record and having a great career.  He of course is not done, he will look to add to his record and of course he also has 42 career postseason saves and really wants to add to that as well this season.  Rivera will look for his sixth ring to go along with his other awards such as World Series MVP and numerous All Star appearances. 

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