On March 9th, Mariano Rivera announced that he will be retiring after 18 years in major league baseball, making 2013 his last season. The league and the New York Yankees will lose the best closing pitcher of all time, but his retirement may be the morale boost needed to help an injury-prone Yankee roster escape what should be a pathetic year.
Rivera has been a Yankee my whole life (literally, he signed to the organization in 1990, the year I was born). As a Yankee fan who’s really only known one closer, seeing him announce his retirement was almost as heart-wrenching as seeing Joe Torre in a Dodger hat for the first time.
However, for Rivera, its the right time.
He said the 2012 season would have been his last, had he not had the season cut short by a torn ACL. With true class, he wanted to say goodbye to his fans properly, giving them one more full season.
Few can rival Rivera’s career. He holds the record for all-time saves (608) and most importantly, the record for postseason saves (42). To put that into perspective, the next name on that list is the now retired Brad Lidge with 18.
Rivera also guided the Yankees to five world championships under his dominating ninth inning performances.
He said in the press conference that he hopes to throw his last pitch in the last game of the World Series. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? Maybe not.
Considering the Yankees’ anticipated starting lineup has several players on the disabled list due to injuries, the Yankees are looking at their worst projected season of my lifetime.
Among the injured, a few of whom should consider retiring themselves, are Mark Teixera, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez (who should go away already), Phil Hughes and Michael Pineda.
The Yankees have no depth, with a roster of players who are over-the-hill or inconsistent, and they’re coming off a pitiful postseason. They have nothing to be excited about except maybe the acquisition of Vernon Wells, who hasn’t been hot in years.
Assuming, ambitiously, 43-year-old Rivera can even come back from such a devastating injury and procure results consistent with his career stats, Mo’s retirement may be just what the Yankees need.
The main problem with the ball club since their last World Series win in 2009, has been their lack of emotion.
I would take Paul O’Neil and the days of breaking bats, throwing water coolers and harassing umpires over the sickening composure of Robinson Cano as he slowly walked off the field after going 0-29 in the postseason last year.
How could you not break a bat after that, Cano?
Maybe it was just the fear of George Steinbrenner that motivated the 96-2000 Yankees into caring about winning championships, but todays Bronx Bombers need some heart and soul back, and Rivera’s retirement offers them this chance.
There may not be much left in Rivera’s longtime teammates Andy Pettitte, who has retired once, and Derek Jeter, who may or may not recover from ankle surgery. Though maybe, in some miraculous fashion they can lead their team to their former glory one last time for Rivera’s sake…
…Or, more likely, they are just gonna suck.