Last year, the Braves had one hell of a sentimental season. The man who, for 20 seasons, had been the proud, smiling anchor of their club, was leaving, and if anything they had to win every last game for them. While Chipper Jones' swan song was truncated by those stinking Cardinals, it was still very effective. And even today, it is bizarre to see an Atlanta Braves game without Chipper.
However, if you think Turner Field without Chipper Jones is bizarre, try picturing the ninth inning in Yankee Stadium with someone other than Mariano Rivera coming onto the mound.
Yeah. Weird, right?
Sadly, that is the case. After nineteen seasons of being the best at what he does (actually, technically 17, since he was a starter in 95 and 96), Mariano Rivera will hang up his cleats after this season. And for fans of the Yankees, and fans of the game in general, this is a heartbreaking loss. Because even if everybody hates the Yankees, if there's a thought in every baseball fan's head that Yankee Stadium needs to be destroyed, and everyone who's ever played there needs to go down with it, they'd halt every bomb until Mariano Rivera was safe on the ground. And then blow everybody else to smithereens.
Mariano Rivera will go down in baseball history as The Greatest Closer that Ever Lived. Nobody else comes close. Screw Rollie. Screw Hoffman. Screw Wilhelm. Rivera has the most saves, and has garnered the most respect and fame out of every man who has ever closed a game. Yes, even Carlos Marmol.
And this isn't the kind of statement somebody would take offense to; Mo is universally respected, which is rare for a closer, especially a Yankee closer. Which is why it's so difficult for me to watch this season for Rivera, knowing it's his last. What's gonna happen next year? Who's gonna take over and capture our hearts? Is it Carlos Marmol?
Still, I'll enjoy watching Mo perform spectacularly this season, for one last round. In 25 years, I can tell my kids I saw Cal Ripken, or Rickey Henderson, or blablabla. But most of all, I'll say I saw Mariano Rivera, the most legendary closer of all time, work an inning and shut down a team. And they'll smile and react with the awe you'd expect from someone today hearing about Reggie Jackson or Jackie Robinson (who we'll talk about later).
Mariano Rivera is a gigantic part of baseball. Baseball without Mariano Rivera isn't as fun.
(By the way, this is my first 1988 Topps custom. It's tricky, but for Mo I'd do anything.)
Coming Tomorrow- He nearly no-hit Minnesota tonight. He's had some decent outings, one of which against my Phillies. He's a pitcher for a team who shouldn't be in second right now. And it's only his second season.