NEW YORK – It is time for another nygreporter sports special. Our readers know these sports specials are about the world of sports in general and not specifically about the Giants. They are usually about a New York team or player but could be about anything sports related and from anywhere in the world. Today, I would like to discuss a guy named Mo, maybe you have heard of him. Mariano Rivera is the best closer to ever play the game of baseball, period. On September 19, 2011, during a beautiful day game, Rivera collected his 602nd save to officially make him the all-time saves leader in Major League Baseball. He also has 42 post season saves that do not count towards the regular season total. Congrats to Mr. Rivera, who is one of the classiest guys in the game and one of my favorite all-time players.
Let’s take a quick look at Rivera’s numbers. I expect these numbers will change rather quickly but as for today, here there are. Mariano is a 12-time All-Star, 5-time World Series Champion, 1999 World Series MVP, the all-time MLB leader for saves (602), the MLB all-time leader in post-season saves (42) and the MLB leader in finishing games (881). He has also won a ton of other awards but these are the big ones in my opinion. Not a bad resume at all and the guy already has 40 saves this year. It is amazing that after all of these years, opposing batters still get chills when they hear the “Enter Sandman” song blasting out over the speakers. I am so glad that I was able to watch his entire career from start to finish. Guys like Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams and Andy Pettitte were my generations Mickey Mantle, Thurman Munson, Lou Gehrig and Joe D. Rivera is also the last player allowed to wear the #42 jersey which has been retired throughout baseball in honor of Jackie Robinson.
It seems like just yesterday, when the Yankees debuted a right hander named Mo but it was actually 16 years ago in May of 1995. Since then, there has been no better closer in baseball and fans were able to see a legend perform on the field every summer in ballparks across America. For most Yankee fans, Rivera will forever be remembered for his cutter, for breaking bats and his cool demeanor. He was always more concerned about winning games then he was about personal achievements. I have an authentic Mariano Rivera baseball jersey in my closet. It takes a lot for me to go out and buy an authentic jersey in any sport because they cost so much. A player must also be exceptional for me to want to wear their name or number on my back. Rivera is one of those players and I wish he could play the game for another 20 years. He is truly a New York Legend.
I have my own personal story about Rivera to share with you now. Actually, I have dozens of stories about seeing Mo get saves LIVE in front of me but one stands out most of all. It was October 27, 1999 and I was in the Bronx for Game 4 of the World Series. You may remember, the Yankees beat the Braves 4-1 in Game 4 that year and I was in the House that Ruth Built when it happened. Roger Clemens was on the mound and beat John Smoltz (both Cy Young winners) while Mariano Rivera closed out the game for the save and sweep of the Braves. Rivera was also named the Series MVP. It is without a doubt the greatest single LIVE sports moment of my life. To be there for “the moment” my favorite baseball team won a Championship is the stuff we all dream about as kids. Thanks for the memories!
Do you think Mariano Rivera is the best closer to ever play baseball?
RD – nygreporter.com
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