Saturday, March 9, 2013

It's official: Mariano Rivera to retire at the end of the 2013 season

It's certainly the end of an era, but I'm not sure it qualifies as "breaking news." Mariano Rivera, closer for the New York Yankees, announced at a press conference this morning that he'll be retiring at the end of this 2013 baseball season.

Even the greatest closers of all time can't play forever, people!

Rivera has been with the Yankees for 18 years. He turned 43 last fall. In the world of professional athletes, that's an old man. He was knocked out of the 2012 season at the very beginning by a knee injury. We should be grateful we get one more year to see him play.

Unlike other players who have stayed into their late 30s and 40s, Mo has never seemed to lose his mojo. Is he as good as he was in his heyday? Probably not. But a Mariano at even 85 percent is still better than all the other closers in baseball. It'll be good for him to leave at the top of his game...too many great players fizzle out and fade away, leaving us with that as our last memory of him.
New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera stretches during the first day of MLB spring training workouts for pitchers and catchers in Tampa, Florida in this file photo
As a Yankee fan, I'm glad I've gotten to see him pitch. I'm glad I've gotten to scream and cheer at Yankee Stadium as "Enter Sandman" begins to play. Besides being one of baseball's best, Mo also always seemed like one of baseball's classiest.

But time marches on. I hope the Yankees use this year, while Mo is still around, to start training another top notch closer. Get someone young and new and fresh, someone with a lot of raw talent, who can benefit from learning from Mo while he's still around. That person should've been Joba Chamberlain, but both Joba and the Yankees screwed that up by deciding it was better for everyone for Joba to be a mediocre starter than a potentially great closer. Starting pitchers carry a lot of cache, yes; being a team's ace is awesome. But I think Mariano showed that being a great closer can be just as important and make you just as rock star!

I didn't mean for this post to be this long. Thanks, Mo, for all your years of hard work, for all the championships, for all the excitement you brought to the game for us Yankees fans. Thanks for one last season, and good luck in everything you do from 2013 forward!

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