November 29 – Happy Birthday Mariano Rivera

rivera

The best closer ever. Those really are the only four words you need to describe “Mo’s” career with the Yankees. In my fifty-plus years of being an avid Major League baseball fan, I’ve seen nobody end games as successfully as this guy did for the past nineteen seasons. And the amazing thing is that he did it with one pitch, a cut fastball. Yankee fans watched Rivera’s cutter break a remarkable number of big league bats over the years. The pitch had such late and significant movement that it was almost impossible for even the most skilled big league hitters to get the meaty part of their bat on the ball. I heard Jim Kaat try to explain it years ago during one Yankee broadcast by telling viewers that Mariano had very long fingers, which helped him get more spin on the cutter than most other pitchers who threw it. Add in his flawless mechanics which enabled him to precisely replicate his elegant delivery pitch after pitch and you have the formula for closing perfection that danced to the tune of “Enter Sandman.”

When I think of Mariano I will remember his postseason brilliance which included 42 saves, an 8-1 record  and an ERA of 0.70. I will remember him setting the MLB career saves record during the 2011 season. I will remember how he returned from an ACL tear at the age of 43 and went on to save 44 games during the final year of his Hall of Fame career. But most of all, I will remember how secure every Yankee lead seemed to be at the end of the eighth inning for almost two straight decades and how comforting it was as a Yankee fan to see that bullpen door swing open and see number 42 trot in to that elevated circular spot in the middle of the infield from where he performed his magic.

Thank you Mariano Rivera. Yankee fans will never ever forget just how magnificent you were.

This former Yankee outfielder, this former Yankee DH and this one-time Yankee phee-nom share Rivera’s November 29th birthday.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1995 NYY 5 3 .625 5.51 19 10 2 0 0 0 67.0 71 43 41 11 30 51 1.507
1996 NYY 8 3 .727 2.09 61 0 14 0 0 5 107.2 73 25 25 1 34 130 0.994
1997 NYY 6 4 .600 1.88 66 0 56 0 0 43 71.2 65 17 15 5 20 68 1.186
1998 NYY 3 0 1.000 1.91 54 0 49 0 0 36 61.1 48 13 13 3 17 36 1.060
1999 NYY 4 3 .571 1.83 66 0 63 0 0 45 69.0 43 15 14 2 18 52 0.884
2000 NYY 7 4 .636 2.85 66 0 61 0 0 36 75.2 58 26 24 4 25 58 1.097
2001 NYY 4 6 .400 2.34 71 0 66 0 0 50 80.2 61 24 21 5 12 83 0.905
2002 NYY 1 4 .200 2.74 45 0 37 0 0 28 46.0 35 16 14 3 11 41 1.000
2003 NYY 5 2 .714 1.66 64 0 57 0 0 40 70.2 61 15 13 3 10 63 1.005
2004 NYY 4 2 .667 1.94 74 0 69 0 0 53 78.2 65 17 17 3 20 66 1.081
2005 NYY 7 4 .636 1.38 71 0 67 0 0 43 78.1 50 18 12 2 18 80 0.868
2006 NYY 5 5 .500 1.80 63 0 59 0 0 34 75.0 61 16 15 3 11 55 0.960
2007 NYY 3 4 .429 3.15 67 0 59 0 0 30 71.1 68 25 25 4 12 74 1.121
2008 NYY 6 5 .545 1.40 64 0 60 0 0 39 70.2 41 11 11 4 6 77 0.665
2009 NYY 3 3 .500 1.76 66 0 55 0 0 44 66.1 48 14 13 7 12 72 0.905
2010 NYY 3 3 .500 1.80 61 0 55 0 0 33 60.0 39 14 12 2 11 45 0.833
2011 NYY 1 2 .333 1.91 64 0 54 0 0 44 61.1 47 13 13 3 8 60 0.897
2012 NYY 1 1 .500 2.16 9 0 9 0 0 5 8.1 6 2 2 0 2 8 0.960
2013 NYY 6 2 .750 2.11 64 0 60 0 0 44 64.0 58 16 15 6 9 54 1.047
19 Yrs 82 60 .577 2.21 1115 10 952 0 0 652 1283.2 998 340 315 71 286 1173 1.000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/28/2013.

2 Comments

Hi Michael,
I got to see Mariano Rivera have a save, Derek Jeter get a hit on the way to 3000 and beyond. I also saw Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez play in Texas in a 4-1 win in May 2011. I also Ivan Nova pitch who I thought was impressive. It was the first time I had seen the Yankees play in person since 1995 and the first time I had seen these current group of championship Yankees so it was a great honor to see them play in person. Keep up the great work with your blogs Michael. Paul/Bratman

Thanks for sharing that great memory, Paul and thanks for your kind comment about my blog.

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