Guest Post: Mariano Rivera -- Into the Sunset

It's starting to feel like Spring. The weather is warmer, Easter is on Sunday, I received my Sports Illustrated "Baseball Preview" issue in the mail yesterday, and on Monday the regular New York baseball season begins as both the Yankees and the Mets have their home openers on the same day and time. To celebrate the latter, here is a guest post about the greatest relief pitcher of all time, Mariano Rivera. This will be the final season to see Mo play, so get your tickets now, since there will likely never be another like him to grace the mound. I wrote about Mariano, nicknamed the Sandman, back in 2011, but here are some new words of praise by Jerome Manson.

Into the Sunset – Mariano Rivera

Jerome Manson is a New York sports enthusiast who enjoys both watching games and studying various teams’ successes and failures. When he isn’t analyzing the X’s and O’s, Jerome is playing tennis or blogging about the NY Yankees for

The cutter. It’s a hybrid between a slider and a fastball. It has proven to be incredibly difficult to hit because of its deceptive speed (thrown between 88-90 miles-per-hour) and the movement of the ball to the side of the pitcher’s glove-side. Mariano Rivera has made the pitch famous and almost exclusively throws the cutter to opposing hitters. Since Rivera recently announced his retirement following the 2013 Major League Baseball season, it reminds us that we will lose not only the ability to watch the most effective pitch in history, the cutter, but also the greatest relief pitcher of all time.

Of his 18 seasons in the MLB, Rivera has posted a sub-2.00 Earned Run Average 11 times. In 16 of those 18 seasons, he posted an ERA below 3.00. He is the model of consistency in not only the American League East, but the entire MLB. No team has had a closer as successful as Rivera has been. He’s been a major part of five New York Yankees World Series Championships. His career postseason record is 8-1, 0.71 ERA, with 42 saves. He’s simply the greatest closer and relief pitcher of all time and has shown no sign of slowing down in 2013.

Rivera tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) early in the 2012 regular season while fielding batting practice before a game. He missed the remainder of the 2012 season. The sample size was small, but considering Rivera’s history he would have likely finished with 30 or more saves and a WHIP (Walks plus Hits divided by Innings Pitched) just at or slightly below 1. He had 5 saves in 9 of the Yankees’ first games and an ERA of 2.16.

This Spring Training, Rivera has shown he is fully recovered from the injury. In his very first appearance against the Atlanta Braves, Rivera struck out two in a perfect inning against the Atlanta Braves. In one of the most iconic moments of spring ball, Rivera pitched to Class-A minor league hitters, only needing 17 pitches to retire 4 batters. It was one of those passing-the-torch moments as minor leaguers looked on in awe.

Wondering who the ‘next’ Mariano Rivera may be is anyone’s guess, but we may never see a pitcher as dominating as Rivera has been throughout his career. He closed the door on 3 straight World Series from 1998-2000, and if it weren’t for a lucky blooper in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series he would have made it four straight. And even at the overripe age of 43, Rivera continues to dazzle.