The best closer in Major League Baseball history’s career may be over tonight. I’m as die-hard a Boston Red Sox fan as you will ever find on this earth, and tonight is the first (and probably only) time that I will ever feel for the New York Yankees and their fans. Earlier this evening before a game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, during batting practice the Yankees closer Mariano Rivera had his knee buckle as he went back to catch a fly-ball on the warning track and it appears his season (if not his career) is headed for its end. Being in the outfield during batting practice is something that Rivera has done hundreds of times over the course of his career, but unfortunately tonight his knee bent a way it wasn’t supposed to, and it has been reported that he has torn his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) which is one of the four major ligaments in the knee.
The 42 year old Rivera is currently the all-time leader in regular season saves with 608, and also the all-time leader in postseason saves with 42. Even as a Red Sox fan it is not hard for me to admit that he is the best closer to ever play the game of baseball, and it truly pains me to see him potentially have his career ended shagging pre-game batting practice. Rivera is a 5-time World Series Champion (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009) and a 12-time All-Star. He also earned the 1999 World Series MVP Award in a sweep over the Atlanta Braves, and the 2003 ALCS MVP over the Red Sox when Grady Little left Pedro Martinez in the game too long and…well you know the rest.
Mariano Rivera is a sure-fire first ballot hall of famer and for his career to end on a freak injury like this really makes you appreciate the little things in life. Yankees manager Joe Girardi held a press conference this evening and said in regards to Rivera “Would I want his career to end this way? No I wouldn’t”. Rivera, holding back tears in the locker room when asked if he would come back to pitch again said “I don’t know. Have to deal with this first”. And from watching him speak, I think he realizes that this is it. As a baseball fan that was truly hard to watch and you really have to respect Mariano for even speaking to the media on what has to be the hardest day in his baseball career.
If this is really it for Mariano, you have to tip your hat to him for what has been a beyond incredible career. Rivera, along with Derek Jeter, have been the face of the Yankees franchise for as long as I can remember and I always thought that they would end their careers together. With DJ hitting .385 on this young season he is showing no signs of slowing down, so it’s looking like they may not go into the hall of fame in the same class. Regardless, Mariano Rivera is the most dominant closer in baseball history and for his career to end in the outfield before a game and not on the mound in a deciding playoff game is really a shame, and tonight my prayers are with the Yankee closer and the entire New York Yankee organization. That doesn’t happen much (in fact this is the first time), so I hope they capitalize on it.
And for something positive to end this with, give the song Rivera entered way too many a game to a listen: “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.