September 19, 2011
Even non-Yankee fans can appreciate Mariano Rivera
On May 17, 1996, Mariano Rivera recorded his first career save.
There was no way to know he would become the greatest closer in the history of baseball. At the time, he was still the backup to John Wetteland.
But on Monday afternoon, Rivera stood on the mound at Yankee Stadium and recorded a Major League record 602 saves.
While it’s a statistic made up from a cranky sportswriter once upon a time, Rivera’s accomplishment is a remarkable feat.
As a New York Yankees fan, there is no better song to hear at Yankee Stadium than 'Enter Sandman'. The song brings confidence, joy and an overwhelming feeling that your team is about to win another game.
[Related: You can already buy Mariano 602 items from MLB.com]
Was Rivera perfect throughout his career?
No. I still remember the home run he gave up to Sandy Alomar Jr., in the 1997 playoffs and the hit by Luis Gonzalez in the 2001 World Series. I remember 2004.
[Related: Card collection pays off with Mo]
But as well as I remember those days, I remember every other postseason game and the five World Series titles Rivera helped the Yankees win.
Rivera jogged out of the bullpen with the blue and white bunting draped across the stadium. 'Enter Sandman' blaring on the speakers and then minutes later hugging my friends as we sang ‘New York, New York’ together.
602 is special.
But the number I love more from Rivera is – coincidentally – 42 right now. Rivera has an 8-1 record and a remarkable 42 saves in the playoffs with a postseason career 0.71 ERA.
We know what Rivera has done in the regular season, but under the most extreme circumstances, he’s been just as great and just as dominant. From 1996 – when he was a set up man – until now, he’s been steady. He’s been the person Yankee fans can rely on consistently.
And he’s still doing it at 41 years old.
For baseball fans, if we are lucky, he’ll be doing it for more years to come.
There are sellers out there already taking advantage of Rivera's feat. This person is the ticket stubs from every game this season.