Mariano Rivera turns 48 years old today. Let’s take a look back at some of the best ‘Mo-ments’ of his career.
Mariano Rivera is the best closer in the history of baseball and that isn’t even an argument. Even the most fervent New York Yankees haters can’t deny that. The 13-time All-Star, World Series MVP, five-time Rolaids Relief Pitcher of the Year, and all-time leader in saves had more than his fair share of special moments in pinstripes. Let’s take a look back at a few of these truly special moments.
When putting Rivera’s Hall of Fame career into perspective, consider this.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is widely considered one of, if not the best active closer in baseball. He’s had lots of postseason success, pitching to a 2.19 ERA over 37 playoff innings. For him to catch Rivera’s career 0.70 postseason ERA, he’d have to allow no more than two earned runs over his next 104 postseason innings.
Lots of luck with that one, Kenley.
On to the highlights.
Rivera’s postseason success is unmatched. This moment was special for Yankee fans for multiple reasons. Not only did it complete the “three-peat,” but it was the Yankees fourth World Series victory in five years and it kept their crosstown rivals, the New York Mets, from winning for the first time since 1986. The Yankees dynasty of the late 90s reached its pinnacle on this day.
Perfect All-Star Game
Rivera playing in his final All-Star Game is special in and of itself. Pitching a 1-2-3 inning against the best players in baseball was a great way for the greatest of all-time to go out on top. Rivera’s career was winding down and for many players, that means they aren’t performing like they were in their prime. That didn’t apply to Mo. This performance showed he was as dominant as ever. He finished his final season in 2013 with 44 saves and a 2.11 ERA. Not bad for a 43-year old.
Rarely can we definitively say that someone is the best at what they do. Pete Rose is the all-time leader in hits, but is he the best hitter of all time? You could make a case for a number of guys like Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Aaron and Aaron Judge (OK, maybe not yet, but let me dream). In Rivera’s case, there is no doubt. He is the best closer in the history of the game and it’s fitting that he surpassed Trevor Hoffman as the all-time leader in saves.
Last Game at Yankee Stadium
This was a special moment in Rivera’s career because he rarely got emotional. It seemed like all of his emotions came out as the realization that his storied career was over sunk in. He was given one of the best sendoffs any athlete could hope for. That his longtime teammates and close friends Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter were the ones to go out to the mound and take the ball from him in his final appearance at Yankee Stadium made it all the more special and memorable.
2003 ALCS Game 7
Wait, when did this turn into Aaron Boone‘s greatest moments? Well, without Rivera, there wouldn’t have been the opportunity for Boone to cement himself in Yankees lore. Rivera pitched three scoreless innings that kept the Yankees in the game long enough for them to outlast the Red Sox. Without him, Boone’s time with the Yankees would be forgotten.
Thank god for Mariano Rivera. Happy birthday to the greatest of all-time.