I have never been a New York Yankees fan – it has never even crossed my mind for a single moment.
I actually despise most everything about the team.
I could go on and on about why the Yankees leave a bitter taste in my mouth, but I want to reflect on the man who is likely to go down as the greatest closer in all of baseball.
Mariano Rivera, known in the baseball world as “Sandman,” was the most feared closer to ever play the game.
When batters heard Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” boom through the stadium speakers, they struggled to put on a brave face.
Inside, they knew which way they would likely be leaving the batter’s box, and it wouldn’t be headed towards the base path.
There is as much mystery to Rivera’s success as there is art. He did not have an arsenal of pitches like most who stand on the mound.
Instead, he used a single pitch – the cut fastball. He made it look easy, the way he controlled that dangerous pitch.
And he was consistent. He blazed the ball past batters at more than 90 miles per hour.
Through 18 seasons, he recorded 652 regular-season saves. In the postseason, he had 42 – which happens to be the number he wore – and had a .70 earned run average in 141 innings. In four World Series, Rivera got the final out to earn the wins for the Yankees.
But now he is gone from the game forever. His jersey was retired alongside him, and he is the last person to ever wear the number 42 in professional baseball.
Even the biggest rivals stood in honor as he pitched his last games in their stadiums.
Perhaps the coolest gift is a rocking chair presented to him by the Minnesota Twins. It is made of the bats hitters broke when facing him and is called the “Chair of Broken Dreams.”
This marks the end of an era that will never be matched. With his last pitch, Rivera closed out his infamy with a sense of closure.
Rivera was a rare, shining star for the game of baseball. He gave everyone something to marvel at.
But now it’s lights out. Game over.
Column by Ryan Richardson, Sports Editor