The Best There Ever Was, Is, or Will Be

According to Joe Posnanski’s latest column for SI.com (a must read from a terrific writer), Mike Sweeney once referred to Mariano Rivera’s devastating cut-fastball:

“You know what’s coming,” Sweeney once said. “But you know what’s coming in horror movies, too. It still gets you.”

Mariano Rivera is the best closer in the history of baseball.  You can even argue (but I won’t… right now) that he is the best pitcher in the history of baseball.  Rivera throws one pitch, hitters know what they’ll be seeing, that no one can touch.  How many other pitchers can you say that about?  Starters throw 4-5 different pitches, they work hitters’ minds – ask Greg Maddux.  Even other relievers throw two, sometimes three pitches.  Not Mariano.  The Great Mariano Rivera throws just one.

A sure-bet, first ballot hall-of-famer, Rivera has a career 2.30 ERA IN THE STEROIDS ERA.  His ERA has been less than 2.00 in eight seasons.  This year, in 32.2 innings, he’s only walked three guys.  Three.  Here are his career post-season ERAs by playoff round: ALDS: 0.38, ALCS: 0.93, WS: 1.16.  That’s nasty.  To go with his 4 World Series rings, he’s got a World Series MVP trophy and an ALCS MVP trophy.

On Sunday, not only did Mariano get his first career RBI on a bases-loaded walk by Met closer Francisco Rodriguez, but Rivera saved his 500th career game, to become only the second pitcher to reach that total.

As a Yankee fan, I have been spoiled for 13 years watching Mo close out games the way closers are intended to operate.  After big losses (See 2001 World Series Game 7), Rivera bounces back.  You can never tell if Mo wins or loses, he’s always the same.  He’s 39, but you’d never be able to tell.  He’s only blown two saves in his last 50 chances.  He could probably pitch until he’s 50, as long as no one can hit the cutter.  His delivery has never changed.

Whenever there’s a discussion about the greatest player of a generation, rarely do pitchers get mentioned and even more rarely do relief pitchers get mentioned.  It’s time for that to change.  Mariano Rivera is right up there with the best players of this generation – if not the best.  Take a look at the numbers he put up in a time where a large portion of MLB players were taking performance-enhancing drugs.

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