The hyperbole is sickening, but what is worse, it’s extremely damaging. No one exaggerates more with respect to Mariano Rivera than baseball writer Joel Sherman.
Only a fool would argue that Rivera is anything less than the greatest closer of all time, but that isn’t enough for the obsequious writer who seemingly will stop at nothing in his attempts to ingratiate himself with the New York Yankees.
Sherman is embarrassing the classy, modest Rivera when he states
“…a room of 100 baseball experts would probably be in unanimity that Rivera is, by far, the best at the position ever – and could you find that at any other position on the field?”
Well, Mr. Sherman, the answer is a resounding “yes,” and one does not have to go very far from where Rivera plays to find him.
A room of 1,000 baseball “experts” would probably be in unanimity that Lou Gehrig is, by far, the best first baseman in baseball history.
A closer really isn’t a position, but let’s not split hairs. If a closer can be categorized as a position, then one can consider a lead off batter as a position.
Does anyone think there was ever a greater lead off batter than Rickey Henderson?
Sherman ranks Rivera as the greatest post season pitcher in history. He conveniently glosses over some of Mariano’s most difficult moments.
George Steinbrenner got at least one thing right. For the Yankees, the only successful season is one in which they win the World Series. The following is difficult to write about because there is still pain.
The worst baseball moment I ever experienced occurred with Mariano Rivera on the mound in Arizona on (I am looking up the date on Retrosheet.) Sunday, Nov. 4, 2001. Nothing else has to be said because all Yankees fans know what happened.
The 2004 debacle against the Boston Red Sox in the second round of the 2004 post season was a team effort, but Rivera failed to close out the Red Sox in the fourth game, without which the Red Sox would not have won the pennant.
In 1997, Sandy Alomar hit a two-out game-tying home run in the eight innings off Rivera. The Cleveland Indians went on to a 3-2 and then beat Andy Pettitte the next day to eliminate the Yankees.
This is not a knock on Rivera, who prefers to remain out of the spotlight, but Mariano Rivera doesn’t need self-serving media types to remind fans about his greatness. They merely give those who hate us Yankees fans an excuse to bring up the few time Mariano revealed he was human.
Rivera has appeared in seven World Series. He has an ERA of 0.99 and a WHIP of 0.963. He has saved 11 games in his 24 appearances.
Regardless of whether he is pitching in the regular season or in October, Rivera is unflappable. What happened against Arizona, Boston and Cleveland is part of the game. For the Yankees and Rivera, it was bad timing, but doesn’t diminish what Rivera has done.
Rivera has accomplished enough. He doesn’t need any help from baseball writers.