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Mariano Rivera: Simply the best

June 30, 2009

Mariano Rivera saved his 500th game last night.  He ranks second all time (Trevor Hoffman 571) in saves, and first all time in post season saves (34), and ERA (.  Is Mariano Rivera the best closer of all time?  Considering the fact that he has played in New York for the past 13 seasons, and has handled the pressure with ease, I would say so.  There are three sure things in life, death taxes, and Mariano Rivera sealing the deal in the 9th inning.  Rivera is considered by many baseball experts to be the greatest closer in baseball history, despite many baseball experts unfavorably comparing modern closers to those who pitched between the 1960s and 1980s. The role of the modern closer has received criticism for becoming too specialized and easy; closers in past decades often entered games in the middle of innings with runners on base and had to pitch multiple innings, while modern closers are usually called upon to only pitch the ninth inning from the start. Despite being utilized like a modern closer, Rivera has achieved a reputation as an all-time great reliever. Hall of Fame starter-turned-closer Dennis Eckersley calls Rivera “the best ever, no doubt”, while Trevor Hoffman, the only closer with more saves than Rivera, says he “will go down as the best reliever in the game in history”. Buster Olney says, “No other player can instill calm in his team’s fans as reliably as Mariano Rivera, the game’s dominant closer and arguably the best relief pitcher of all time.” Joe Torre, who managed Rivera for most of his career, says, “He’s the best I’ve ever been around. Not only the ability to pitch and perform under pressure, but the calm he puts over the clubhouse.” Based on his career performance, many baseball journalists consider Rivera to be the most valuable Yankees player from the team’s late 1990s championship years. Although voters have historically been reluctant to allow relievers into the Baseball Hall of Fame sports writers and baseball experts anticipate Rivera will be voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility (five years after retirement), due to his career statistics and perception as a dominating pitcher.


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