Monday, September 19, 2011

Congrats to Mariano Rivera on save #602

Congrats to Mariano Rivera on his record-breaking 602nd save! It's really more of a formality and appropriate that the greatest relief pitcher of all-time holds the record. Even if he ended under Trevor Hoffman's 601, many would argue that his place is cemented at the top. Either way, there is no denying it now. One impressive thing about both Rivera and Hoffman is their longevity. Closers come and go. That is the norm. Some are lights out for a few years and fall off the face of the planet...guys like Eric Gagne and Byung-Hyun Kim. Others are great but aren't as durable - think Billy Wagner. Some transition to starter and others forget where the strike zone is (Mark Wohlers). For the majority of teams, it's an ever-rotating position of who is pitching best at the moment without any long-term stability. Since I was 12 years old, I knew who was closing for the Yanks, and I'll miss that next year if he decides to retire at the end of his contract.

I love the card above because it really showcases what Mariano does. He closes the game, once in a while gives a slight fist pump, but usually just puts his head down and walks toward the catcher to shake his hand. Who even shakes hands these days in baseball? He isn't a quirky reliever who pounds his glove and stomps around the mound. There are no K-Rod or Valverde ridiculous reactions after saving the game. He does his job, takes a shower, and goes home.

It's been a luxury I've taken for granted for too long, and I suspect I won't truly miss it until 2013 (if that's the year) when Rafael Soriano or someone else is closing out the game, and I feel like closers will come and go from year to year. Someone will be the next big thing and receive a huge contract, I'm sure. Some will pitch one year, maybe three if I'm lucky. But will I ever see the same closer for eight, nine or ten years? Someone I genuinely like? I'm not counting on it. I'm going to make sure I really appreciate this last year or so of Rivera.

Here are two more Mo relics that I own.

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