Last night prior to the New York Yankees-Kansas City Royals game, Yankees Closer Mariano Rivera tore both his ACL and Miniscus and is done for the year. Baseball is still stunned by the loss of the greatest Closer to ever step foot onto the field. With 608 Saves and a career 2.21 ERA, if this is the end of The Sandman entering the 9th Inning for the Yankees, boy what a career it was. This now leads that more than likely Setup Man David Robertson will become the new closer. He’s been dominant in that role for the past few years, considered by everyone outside of Cleveland as the best Setup Man in baseball. With that move for Indians fans, that makes Vinnie Pestano the best Setup Man in baseball and well deserved for him.
The more surprising thing about this is that the list of injured closers is mounting up. Before Spring Training the Reds signed Ryan Madson to a contract and immediately after injured himself for the year and the Reds are now turning to LHP Sean Marshall, who has no closing experience to be the man in the 9th. Andrew Bailey was acquired by the Red Sox in a trade with the A’s and he soon after got knocked out until possibly the All-Star Break, unfortunately for the Red Sox both men who were going to replace him have failed miserably. Then Joakim Soria of the Royals got injured for the year in Spring Training, which was sad because he was going to make a big rebound year. Fortunately for the Royals they had former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton to fill in the role. Then youngsters like Drew Storen and Sergio Santos went down with injuries.
The list goes on this year and unfortunately has become The Year of The Setup Man. But as for the Indians, the Indians have an amazing bullpen led by Chris Perez who has been great this year. Not to mention having Vinnie Pestano, Joe Smith, Tony Sipp, Rafael Perez and even Nick Hagadone. So when you look at the Indians in general, this is a reason why the Indians could win the Division.
But as for the hot topic today, Mariano Rivera. The man was phenomenal even during the playoffs. A 0.70 ERA and only allowing 2 HRs, which we all know one of them was that magical Home Run in ’97 by Sandy Alomar Jr. If I had to put Rivera in a list of the greatest pitchers ever, I would say Top 10. Not only was he a great person and competitor, but was dominant for many years. Heck this guy almost won the Cy Young Award as a Setup Man in ’96. But the one thing I’m always going to remember Rivera for was for one game and one at-bat.
The year was 2002, the Indians were coming off a clutch win the night before, but were down big going into the 9th and Rivera had the Bases Loaded against a little known hitter named Bill Selby. You know were this is going. Selby hit a line drive down the line in right field, but it hooked barely foul. It seemed with that the game was over and we had stunned Rivera. At that moment, I believed the game was over. But the next pitch, Selby hits it and makes sure there was no doubt that this game ended then and there. He hit it a long way to right that flew into the 2nd Deck and won the game with a Grand Slam.
Sorry Mariano, that memory is too memorable. I remember where I was and how I acted after the Grand Slam. I hope Mariano can return next year and finish on his own terms. This is one of those players who doesn’t deserve this as his ending. If it is, then in 5 years we definately will see him again, but this time going to Cooperstown and entering the Hall of Fame, where’s he been destined to go to for years.