This year will mark the end of an era in baseball. The greatest reliever of all time, Mariano Rivera, announced the other day that 2013 will be his final season. I will make sure I’m watching whenever I can.
We wrote about Mo last year when he was injured. Now we’re looking forward to one last season of pitching perfection.
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From the NY Times:
For much of the past 18 years, the Yankees have relied on Mariano Rivera to pitch in the late innings with games on the line.
That certainty helped them become perennial contenders and secure five championships. But the Rivera era is coming to a close.
“It’s official now,” Rivera, 43, said Saturday. “After this year, I will be retired,”
The element of surprise had been dashed days before Rivera made the announcement with his wife, Clara, and two of their sons by his side at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. His intentions were clear on Thursday when the Yankees scheduled the news conference, which was televised nationally and streamed online.
Rivera hinted at retirement in 2012, and he confirmed on Saturday that had he not been injured most of last season, he would not be pitching now. But Rivera tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on May 3 while shagging fly balls in batting practice and missed the rest of the season.
“I didn’t want to leave like that,” he said, adding, “I still have something left.”
Widely considered the greatest closer in baseball history, Rivera enters the season with 608 career saves, a major league record, and a 2.21 earned run average.
No pitcher has appeared in more postseason games than Rivera. He has a 0.70 E.R.A. over 96 career postseason games, helping the Yankees win five of the seven World Series they appeared in since Rivera made his debut in 1995. His 42 postseason saves are a record, and more than twice as many as the next pitcher on the list, Brad Lidge, who has 18.
Despite his personal achievements, Rivera emphasized that he would rather be remembered as a great teammate than as a great pitcher.
“That’s the legacy that I want to leave, that I was there for others,” Rivera said as all of his teammates, along with Yankees officials, looked on.
Rivera will retire having played for no other team and is almost certain to lead the class of 2018 into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The last career Yankee to be selected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to be enshrined in Cooperstown was Mickey Mantle in 1974. (Phil Rizzuto was selected by the veterans committee in 1994.)
The Yankees are an aging team with a growing list of concerns. They will start the season with three of their top offensive threats, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, on the disabled list.
The Yankees are hoping they can count on Rivera at the back end of their bullpen for one more season. Developing a new closer, or finding one elsewhere, will be near the top of the team’s to-do list.
But the bullpen remains a strength, and Rivera’s role in that bullpen hinges on his ability to recover from knee surgery last June. He was scheduled to appear in his first game of the spring on Saturday.
Saying he had a few bullets left, Rivera promised: ““I’m going to use them well this year,” Rivera said.
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Manager Joe Girardi said, “Two strikeouts, strikes. Pretty much what we’re used to seeing from Mo. It wasn’t anything different. It looked like he threw some good cutters, some good sinkers. He’s on track to be ready for Opening Day.”
Welcome back, Mo.