Where Jeter reached his milestone in dramatic style and with a great deal of hoopla surrounding it, Mariano Rivera did it exactly as he’s always done everything – no fuss, no drama, a sea of calm and total class. And completely in control.
He is without a doubt the best in the business. Before this season is over, he will have surpassed Trevor Hoffman to become the all time leader in saves. Baseball purists argue about the relevance of the saves category. As someone who has witnessed Mo’s contribution to the incredible run the Yankees have had since he came into the league, let me say two words – Enter Sandman.
Any time the opposing team heard that song, they knew the game was over. And it was a disheartening feeling. Knowing that you pretty much had no shot. And at no time was this more evident than in the postseason, where Rivera simply loomed large over every single game. Opposing teams knew they had to tie the score or take the lead before the start of the 8th inning (has anyone had more 2 inning saves ever?), because if they didn’t, the game was over. And it made them press and make mistakes, which worked to the Yankees advantage. And the few times teams managed to overcome Rivera stand out simply because they were so rare. Luis Gonzalez’s career highlight will always be hitting a bloop single over shortstop to win the 2001 World Series, an especially heartbreaking loss for every New Yorker, partly because it won the series, but mostly because it was against the great Mariano. There is no doubt in my mind that the Yankees win none of those championships without Rivera contributing large to the mystique and aura.
And in the age of Lebron, Kobe, A-Rod and Peyton, has there ever been a less heralded and hyped superstar than Rivera? He always carries himself with dignity and grace, forever humble and a team player. Can you imagine what the coverage of A-Rod’s approach to 700 HR would be? Just compare it to the complete lack of hype around Rivera’s approach to 600. I guess it’s fitting for someone who would enter the game, get 3 outs, and walk off the mound before you even had a chance to get your heart racing. He was just that good, that dominant, that matter-of-fact.
He is the master. He is the Sandman. And there will never be another like him.Tags: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees, The Greatest