Apr 22 2013
The greatest relief pitcher in the history of baseball will hang up his cleats at the end of the 2013 baseball season at the age of 43. I have been blessed with and have had the pleasure of seeing the greatest relief pitcher of all time pitch for my favourite team since I was born. The Yankees legend is considered the greatest at his craft and the most dominant closer of all time by a large margin. Rivera holds countless records with a record 613 and counting saves along with 12 all-star selections. Rivera’s 2.21 ERA and .998 WHIP are the best of any pitcher since 1920 and aside from the regular season, Rivera also is one of the greatest play-off performers of all time, leading the Yankees to five world series titles, all mainly with the use of one pitch, his unique stunning cutter which is the best pitch in the game of baseball. Not only is Rivera one of the best players in the history of baseball, he is also one of the most genuinely nice people you could ever meet. I have had the pleasure of meeting the historically great pitcher multiple times, and he is one of the nicest people I have ever met. Reporters say of Rivera that when he asks reporters and crew people how they have been, that he is one of the extremely few players who actually cares how each person has been. I have been spoiled to have seen the closer pitch for the Yankees all my life and to have met the pitcher in person many times.
Rivera grew up in a poor fishing village near Panama City, Panama, playing baseball since a young age with friends. Tree branches were used as bats, with milk cartons for gloves and tape being used to make a ball. Upon graduating from high school Rivera worked with his father on a fishing boat, hauling shrimp and sardines. In free time, Rivera began playing shortstop for a local amateur team at the age of 19. A Yankees scout noticed Rivera’s athleticism and signed him to a $3,000 contract. Rivera was never considered as a major league prospect, but worked his way up the Yankees system as a starting pitcher. In 1995 the pitcher made ten appearances as a starter for the big league club with little success before being moved to the bullpen. At that point, Mariano’s career took off and the pitcher never looked back. To make things even more amazing, Rivera has had all his success with the use of one pitch, his cutter which no one in the history of the sport seems to be able to throw as well as him. The pitch has been named by countless hitters as the best pitch in baseball, and hitters fail to be able to hit it even when they know it is coming, with Rivera breaking countless bats due to the movement of this pitch. In the post-season, what Rivera has been able to accomplish is even more remarkable, with the closer being at the top of countless categories. In his play-off career Rivera has won five world series, has eight wins to one loss, owns a .70 ERA, has pitched 141 innings in 96 games, holds 42 saves and has only given up 2 home runs. It would only be fitting for Rivera’s career to end this year with the closer adding to these feats and getting the final out to win the Yankees their 28th world series and to end the already outstanding career of Rivera. Rivera dominated his position and has a chance to be the only player in the history of baseball to be unanimously elected to the Hall Of Fame, and if any voters do not vote for Rivera, they deserve to have their votes rescinded based of the accomplishments of Rivera. And yet, despite the success and fame which Rivera has achieved, the pitcher remains humble, soft spoken and goes about his job without any theatrics or bravado. Rivera’s attitude towards the game and his outlook remains the same win or lose with his impeccable work ethic. Mariano Rivera has succeeded in being historically great in the most pressure filled innings for the most pressure filled team in the world and it has been an honour to watch Rivera pitch for all these years. This season every time Rivera appears on the field to pitch it is something which must be cherished and no matter what situation a Yankees game is in this year, it will always be something to watch for the opportunity that you might get to see the greatest relief pitcher in the history of the sport pitch one more time. Rivera is the last player in baseball history to wear Jackie Robinson’s number 42 and it is only fitting that it is the most humble and historically great player currently playing who gets to do this. Every time that Enter Sandman starts playing this season Yankees Stadium will be filled with anticipation, as if it is a play-off game, and one of the last chances for a person to see this amazing pitcher close out one last game in person.