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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Classy

We knew this day would eventually come. Mariano Rivera, the Yankees closer and the greatest of all time, will retire after the upcoming season. Along with 608 saves and a 2.21 ERA, Rivera has saved 42 games in the postseason. And he throws one pitch, a mid-90s cut fastball. Isn't it supposed to help when you know what's coming?

This is a guy who says that God showed him the cutter as he was warming up in the bullpen. It slipped out of his hand or something. He's the quiet leader of the Yankees, even a sort of moral compass. He's the epitome of humility. He's been the best at his position since 1997, and he's still the best on the eve of his final season. He's 43 years old.

They say it's hard to walk away when you're the best. I get the sense that Mariano wants to be the best at something other than baseball. God and family. It's hard to argue when those two cards are played.

The truth is, I haven't seen him play much, but hardly anyone could fail to notice that his name is synonymous with, "You lose." Look at the stats yourself. We're all supposed to hate the Yankees. I get that. But ever since he came, every conversation about it starts, "I hate the Yankees, BUT..." Even if you say, "I hate the Yankees," you mean, "I hate the Yankees, except for Mariano Rivera."

When they wrote all that moral stuff into the Hall of Fame qualifications, they were talking about a guy like this. I completely agree with Wallace Matthews: the vote in 5 years should be unanimous. It won't be, because baseball writers are stupid, but there we are.

Isn't it fitting that this is the guy who will wear Jackie Robinson's number 42 for the last time? Could it be any different? The game still has stories and heroes; don't let anyone tell you differently. I wouldn't mind if he walked off the mound for the last time a champion. Then again, it seems--win or lose--that he'll do just that.

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