I’m obviously biased as Mariano Rivera is my favorite baseball player ever (grew up in Milwaukee a huge Robin Yount fan, but he’s #2 to Mo). This is as good an historical overview on Mo’s career as I’ve seen. Courtesy of Joe Posnanski and NBC Sports.
Mariano Rivera has been the perfect athlete in a time long after we stopped believing in perfect athletes.
Think of the pitfalls today. One misstep. One misspoken statement. One insensitive tweet. One mistranslated thought. Celebrity life in the 21st Century is the wildest of high-wire acts, a thread-thin tightrope, fire above, no net below, and all the while people shoot pellets at your legs. Rivera did not just walk that tightrope. He danced on it. He did backflips on it. He did not just pass every test. He aced every test.
People will always argue about the baseball greatness of Mariano Rivera. Much of the argument depends on the way you view baseball. If you view the ninth inning as a bomb that only the nerviest and most extraordinary people can defuse, then you probably see Rivera as an all-time great. If you view the ninth inning as just another inning, and view closers as specialists not unlike punters, then you might not see him as an all-time great. And there’s a lot of room in between.
But I do wonder if this misses the real story. How does someone close games in New York for 16 years and come out of it adored? How does someone who wears nothing but Yankees pinstripes his entire career — can you even picture Mariano Rivera without his Yankees cap on? — get honored at Fenway Park? How does someone in today’s Twittery, bloggy, First Take, Facebook, chat board, talk radio, GIF-infused world come out of a long career as universally beloved?
See, even people who loathe Mariano Rivera love him.