The sound of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” famously associated to a legendary baseball player will play for the last time in the 2013 season. New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has announced he will retire following the 2013 season.
Rivera, 43, was signed by the New York Yankees in 1990 out of Panama. He debuted in 1995 as a starting pitcher and struggled with a 5-3 record and a 5.51 ERA. After a much improved season as a setup man in 1996, he became the Yankees closer in 1997. In 16 seasons as the closer, Rivera has 603 saves with a 2.02 ERA.
In 2009, Mariano Rivera would save the All-Star Game, his fourth career All-Star Game save, setting the record. On September 17, 2011, in Yankee Stadium, Rivera recorded his 602nd career save in a 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins, making him the all-time saves leader, surpassing Trevor Hoffman.
One month into the 2012 season, Rivera tore his ACL during batting practice during his usual routine of catching fly balls in the outfield and would miss the remainder of the season. He has had 15 consecutive seasons with at least 25 saves and 14 seasons with at least 30 saves, each being records. It is likely that he would have retired following the 2012 season had he not gotten injured. Mariano Rivera has tremendous pride and wants to leave the game he loves on his terms and not on the disabled list with his last image on a baseball field being down on the field unable to walk off on his own power.
In 11 seasons, Rivera has had an ERA below 2.00, tying with Walter Johnson for the most of this type of season.
While Mariano Rivera was great during the regular season, he was legendary in the postseason. Rivera pitched in 96 postseason games and posted a 0.70 ERA, the lowest in postseason history, with an 8-1 record. He has also recorded 42 postseason saves, another record. To put this record in context, the player with the second most postseason saves is Brad Lidge with 18.
After the final appearance by Mariano Rivera, it will be the last time a player will wear the number 42. The number was retired league-wide in 1997 in honor of Jackie Robinson.
A well-known fact about Mariano Rivera is his pitching repertoire. The signature pitch of Mariano Rivera is the cut fastball, or cutter. The entire league is aware of this pitch and the likelihood of him using it but is still unable to achieve much success against him.
The Yankees closer is a 12-time All-Star, a 5-time World Series Champion. He has won the World Series MVP Award in 1999 and the AL Championship Series MVP Award in 2003, the only reliever to win both awards.
Mariano Rivera is the all-time leader in saves (608). He also holds postseason records in lowest ERA (0.70) and most saves (42).
A comforting and reliable presence such as Rivera’s is rare and for Yankees fans, it will be a future that cannot be prepared for, a future without the best there is. Mariano Rivera will go down as the best reliever in major league history and a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer.