Column: Mariano Day marks end of Mo in NY
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 23:09
Sept. 22 will be a day all baseball fans remember fondly. The Yankees dubbed last Sunday “Mariano Day” to celebrate and honor legend Mariano Rivera in one of his final career home games before retirement. It seemed to be a cross between Old-Timer’s Day and a huge party, as old Yankees came to support the pitcher while Metallica performed Mo’s famous closing song, “Enter Sandman,” live in center field.
Although the Yankees lost 2-1 to the San Francisco Giants, the score was not the most important part of the game. What was most significant was the ending of a ritual so many fans have become accustomed to: seeing Mariano jog to the mound in the eighth inning to close the game.
The 43-year-old pitcher has had 19 years of experience in Major League Baseball, has won five World Series with the Yankees, played in 13 All Star Games and has racked up countless records throughout his career with basically one single pitch.
Rivera’s cut fastball thrown at 90 mph, give or take, has struck out countless batters and broken more than a few bats over the years. Former teammate and pitcher Mike Mussina said the axis of the cutter was tilted off center, which caused the ball to uniquely rotate sideways and spin backwards. Mussina described the pitch like “a car skidding across ice, the front veering to the side, the whole thing fishtailing.” This pitch has helped Mo become baseball’s greatest closer and a legend in Yankee history.
In 1990, Rivera signed with the Yankees as an amateur free agent for just $3,000. However, he quickly gained credibility when he led the Yankees to win the World Series in 1996. Rivera struck out 130 batters in the 1996 regular season and allowed only one earned run in the 14 innings he pitched in during the postseason, leading up to their win in the World Series. From this performance it is no surprise that Mo was signed as the Yankees’ closer in April 1997. From then on Rivera continued to thrive.
On September 19, 2011 Rivera hit a huge milestone in his career, as he surpassed pitcher Trevor Hoffman to become the all-time saves leader.
To this day, Mo has had 652 career saves, which still remains more than any other pitcher in history. He has racked up 1,172 strikeouts and has pitched in 1,280 innings throughout his career.
The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42, where it will remain in the honorary Monument Park, however this will be the end of an era for the Yankees. With Rivera and Pettitte retiring at the end of the season along with Jeter’s inconsistent health issues, few members of the old team seem to be around. When asked about these circumstances, Rivera wisely stated, “It happens. You should know this is not forever. The time will come and that time has arrived. You have to embrace it and move on.”
Yes, the time has come that Mo will no longer be in pinstripes, but his performances will be remembered forever. Although no pitcher may ever compare to Rivera, one can only hope the Yankees live up to his standards and keep his winning tradition alive.