Wishing all the best to Mariano Rivera…

7 05 2012

If you follow baseball at all, then you heard about what happened to Mariano Rivera last Thursday. During batting practice before his New York Yankees took on the Kansas City Royals, Rivera was doing what he always did during batting practice: shagging fly balls. However, on this evening, a normal routine for Rivera took a horrible turn. Chasing a fly ball in deep center field, his right knee gave out and he collapsed, clearly in a lot of pain.

Seeing the replay, I didn’t think he’d done anything before his right knee simply collapsed on him. But a number of reports say he caught a cleat on the seam between the turf at Kaufmann Stadium and the warning track carpet, and that was a factor in the tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of his knee.

Many speculated that Rivera’s pitching career may be over – and they may be right. This is a devastating injury, and a difficult one for any pitcher to come back from. But a friend of mine said that if anyone is likely to come back from an injury like that, it’s Rivera.

I do hope that Rivera is able to come back and pitch in 2013. He has announced that he does intend to return to the mound next year. Hanging it up due to an injury, he said, is not the way to end a career. I could not agree more. Yes, he’s with the Yankees, a team that many of us, as baseball fans, love to hate, but at the same time, we can’t help but admire Rivera’s success on the mound over the years, and he is one of the best pitchers the game of baseball has ever seen.

How good has Rivera been in his career? Nothing short of spectacular! He started out in the Yankees rotation in his first year, back in 1995, before moving into the bullpen. He would lay claim to the Yankees’ regular closer role in 1997. In that year, he was an impressive 43 of 52 in save opportunities. Yep. In that first full year as the Yankees’ regular closer, Rivera had all of nine blown saves. That’s the most blown saves he would have of any year. Most years, he’d blow something like 3, 4 or 5 saves at the most, and in one year, in 2008, he would be nearly perfect in save opportunities, collecting 39 saves in 40 chances. Yep – just one blown save the entire year! When you were playing the Yankees, you dreaded facing Rivera on the mound when the Yankees had a save on the line. Rivera was money in the bank. He was that dominant over the years.

Including the five saves he collected this year before his injury, he has amassed a total of 608 saves in his career – more than any other pitcher in major league history!

A pitcher like Mariano Rivera deserves an end to a career much better than what appears to be the end, as a result of an injury that took place during, of all things, batting practice! Got to give him a lot of credit that he’s going to try to come back next year. He has a hell of a long road ahead, with surgery to repair the ligament, and months of rehab after that. But I agree with my friend. If anyone can pull off the recovery needed to get back on the mound after an injury like that, it’s Mariano Rivera.