Where do you even begin when counting the best saves of Mariano Rivera's career?
The New York Yankees closer has shut the door in countless big games and in many ways has been the most important part of the Yankees dynasty during the 1990s.
Even when he hasn't gotten an official save, there have been plenty of games when Rivera kept the other team from scoring long enough for New York to win.
And now, the impossible task of ranking the gutsiest saves of Rivera's historic career.
This one makes the list not for its difficulty but for its significance.
Staked to a 3-0 lead in the game and series, Rivera took the mound primed to close the door and give the Yanks their second World Series title in three years.
Rivera would allow the leadoff hitter to reach before inducing a ground-ball double play and later a ground out.
Thanks to a great series by Scott Brosius and three World Series saves by Rivera, the Bombers were World Champions once again.
I think my colleague Rick Weiner would agree that the picture above is as memorable as they come
With a three-run lead heading into the ninth inning, Rivera had an opportunity to give the Yankees an important 1-0 lead in the World Series.
After recording the first out, Rivera would allow a single to Brett Boone and a walk to Chipper Jones.
With the tying run at the plate, Rivera had to deal with the Braves' cleanup hitter, Brian Jordan. Rivera struck him out and ended the game by getting pinch-hitter Greg Myers to fly out.
With a 3-1 lead in Game 6 of the 2009 ALCS, Rivera was called upon by Joe Girardi to get the final six outs and take the Yanks to the World Series.
After allowing a leadoff single to Chone Figgins, Rivera surrendered a run to the Angels that cut the Bombers' lead to one.
The Yankees tacked on two insurance runs, giving Rivera a three-run lead going into the ninth inning.
Rivera retired the side in order in the ninth, ending the game and the series with a swinging strikeout of Gary Matthews Jr.
With a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning, Joe Torre decided to bring Rivera in early for the final two innings.
After an easy eighth, Rivera had his job made tougher by third baseman Scott Brosius, who committed an error that brought the tying run to the plate in Jeremy Giambi.
But Giambi didn't have a big hit in him. Despite the pressure of having the tying run at the plate, Rivera forced a weak ground out to first base, picking up another postseason save in a pressure-packed spot.
Rivera once again found himself against a deadly trio of Rangers hitters who were ready and able to erase the two-run lead with a couple of big swings.
But once again that didn't faze Mo. He retired the Ranges in order, sandwiching a Todd Zeile ground out in between strikeouts of Rafael Palmeiro and Tom Goodwin.
Rivera's strong ninth inning gave the Yankees of a 2-0 series lead.
This would be the first of many World Series saves for the greatest closer in MLB history and the definition of gutsy.
After Jeff Nelson got himself into trouble with two outs in the eighth, Rivera was called on to solve the Yanks' problems.
A four-run lead should've been no problem for Rivera, but Chuck Knoblauch made one of his signature errors, giving the San Diego Padres a run that brought the tying run to the plate.
Rivera would go on to force Steve Finley to ground out to end the inning.
In the ninth, Rivera would strike out out the first two hitters and end Game 1 of the 1998 World Series with a weak fly out in foul territory.
When it was all said and done, Rivera had his first career World Series save.
1997 was the first year Mariano Rivera took over as the Yankees full-time closer for John Wetteland.
He got a shot to save his first postseason game in Game 1 of the 1997 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians.
In the top of the eighth inning, Rivera replaced reliever Jeff Nelson, who had run the count to 3-0 on his hitter.
With the tying run already on base, Rivera walked that hitter to put the go-ahead run on base. But he would settle down and force Omar Vizquel to ground out to end the inning.
Mo would go on to pitch the ninth and record his first career postseason save. It was only fitting it was also of the multiple-inning variety.
A three-run lead might be a lot for Rivera, but it's not as secure when you are facing the type of hitters he had to face in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 1999 ALDS against the Rangers.
With Rusty Greer, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro and Todd Zeile coming up, Rivera had his work cut out for him.
Not to mention, he made it worse by allowing a leadoff single to Greer, then threw a wild pitch allowing Greer to take second base.
As was the case throughout his career, just when you thought Rivera would unravel, he reacted calmly to a potentially dangerous situation.
He induced Gonzalez and Palmeiro to fly out and ended the game by forcing a ground out against Zeile.
The save would be Rivera's second of the ALDS and stamped the Yanks' place in the ALCS.
With a one-run lead and a chance to close the door on the Subway Series, Torre brought Rivera in once again for a two-inning save.
In the eighth, he faced the heart of the New York Mets order in Edgardo Alfonzo, Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile. If any of them reached, Robin Ventura was next.
After a two-out single by Zeile put the tying run on base, Rivera had to deal with the veteran third baseman. Rivera made quick work of Ventura and got out of the jam unscathed.
It wouldn't get any easier for the Mets. Rivera pitched a dominant ninth with two backwards Ks, one of which ended the game and earned Rivera another save.
The heroics of Scott Brosius will always be the defining moment of the 1998 World Series, but the pitching of Rivera should be right up there with it.
Rivera saved three games during the World Series that year and his toughest was in Game 3.
After two quick outs in what looked like another effortless ninth inning, Rivera began to get himself into trouble with only a 5-4 lead.
Carlos Hernandez hit a two-out single, followed by a pinch-hit single by Mark Sweeney that put the tying run on third base.
In a gut-wrenching moment, Andy Sheets fell victim to Rivera's all-time stuff and was sent back to the dugout courtesy of a strikeout to end the game.
After a clutch home run by Chuck Knoblauch in the eighth inning tied the game at 5, the Yankees called on Mo to keep it that way.
Although it wasn't a save situation, Rivera came in for his first of two innings of work against the meat of the Braves order.
In those two innings, Rivera would put the go-ahead run on base in each of them, but got through tough hitters like Brett Boone, Chipper Jones, Brian Jordan and Ryan Klesko, keeping the game knotted at five.
In the bottom of the tenth, Chad Curtis made Rivera's work worthwhile, blasting a walk-off homer off Mike Remlinger to win the game.
Once again, that would not have been possible without the heroics of Rivera.
In a historic comeback, the Yankees found themselves with a chance to take the series after being in an 0-2 hole.
Once again, Joe Torre wasn't taking any chances and brought his closer in for the last two innings.
With a two-run deficit, Oakland managed to get the tying run to the plate in the eighth only to have its opportunity squandered by Rivera.
In the ninth, Rivera would retire the side in order and finish off the last two hitters with strikeouts. It was the final save in what turned out to be a historic series for the team in pinstripes.
With a chance to end the Subway Series and keep the bragging rights in the Yankee fans' grasp, Rivera came into the ninth with a two-run lead.
But that didn't stop Mo from making it interesting once again. He surrendered a one-out walk to Benny Agbayani, which gave the Mets two cracks at the tying run.
After Rivera recorded a fly-ball out off the bat of Edgardo Alfonzo, he had to deal with the Mets' best hitter, Mike Piazza. Although he got great wood on it, Piazza drive to center fell short and the Yankees were once again world champions.
It was the most important championship of the entire dynasty.
With a 4-2 lead going into the ninth, Rivera found himself going up against the 9-1-2 hitters of the Mariners' lineup.
After recording the first out, Rivera began to have issues. He allowed a double to Ichiro Suzuki. After getting the second out of the inning, Mo threw two consecutive wild pitches that allowed Ichiro to score.
Rivera would walk the next batter, Brett Boone, putting the tying run at the plate in favor of Edgar Martinez. It was no secret Yankee fans were on the edge of their seat, watching one of the all-time great Yankee killers get his crack at tying the game.
But Rivera would have none of it. He retired Martinez for the ever-important first win of the playoff series.
Although it isn't technically considered a save, it should be.
After Damaso Marte retired Ryan Howard to start the eighth inning, he handed the ball to Rivera with a four-run lead.
Rivera would allow a double in the eighth, but that was all. After surrendering a walk in the ninth, he slammed the door on another Yankee World Series victory.
With only a one-run lead and the tying run on base with only one out in the eighth inning, Rivera was brought in to stop the bleeding and preserve the lead.
Rivera would go on to force a ground out and finished the inning by striking out Mike Cameron.
In the ninth, Rivera made it look easy by retiring the side in order with two strikeouts, one looking, to give the Yanks a commanding 2-0 series lead.
In a pivotal game three, Rivera took the mound one inning early in order to wrap-up the last six outs of the game and help avoid the Bombers falling to an 0-3 deficit in the 2001 World Series.
Rivera would retire all six batters he faced, four of them by strikeout, and dominated on his way to holding a one-run lead and recording another postseason save.
Bernie Williams' walk-off home run off Rod Beck understandably overshadowed Rivera's two-inning performance in Game 1 of the 1999 ALCS, but that doesn't minimize it.
Rivera came into the ninth inning with a tie score. Since the Yankees were at home, he would have no chance to get a save.
But Rivera threw two innings and held the 3-3 tie until Bernie could work his magic.
Without Rivera, Williams never might have had a chance to hit that famous home run.
In what was the biggest game of his then-young career, Mo was handed the ball in the seventh inning of Game 6 of the 1996 World Series against the Atlanta Braves.
Rivera was tasked with holding the one-run lead for two innings before handing the ball off to closer John Wetteland.
The young Rivera performed well, surrendering only one baserunner by way of a walk. He retired the other six batters he faced en route to a scoreless two innings of work.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
After falling behind 2-0 in the 2001 ALDS against the Oakland Athletics, the Yankees found themselves up by a single run going into the eighth inning, and Joe Torre wasn't going to be taking any chances on this one.
He needed a win, so naturally he went to his closer.
In the eighth, Rivera allowed the tying run to reach base with one out, but successfully retired the next two hitters.
In the ninth, Rivera once again allowed the tying run to get on base and in scoring position with one out. He retired the next two hitters and helped notch the first win of that series for a struggling Yankee team.
Already down 1-0 in the 2009 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Yanks got a brilliant pitching performance by, yes that's right, A.J. Burnett.
After seven dominant innings, Girardi brought Rivera in to shut the door and send the series back to Philly tied at one.
Rivera recorded the first out of the eighth but then surrendered a walk to Jimmy Rollins and a single to Shane Victorino.
With the go-ahead run at the plate, Rivera bore down and induced an inning-ending double play from the hot-hitting Chase Utley to get out of the jam.
In the ninth, the Phillies brought the tying run to the plate after a two-out double by Raul Ibanez. But that was no problem for Rivera. He struck out Matt Stairs swinging to even the series at a game apiece.
Staked to a two-run lead going into the ninth, the Bombers called on Rivera to get through the heart of the Texas Rangers' lineup to give the team a 2-0 lead in the 1998 ALDS.
After allowing a leadoff single to speedster Tom Goodwin, Rivera faced Rusty Greer, Juan Gonzalez and Will Clark. A part of a great lineup for the Rangers that season, they were easily three of the best hitters in baseball.
In about as anti-climactic a fashion as you could imagine, Rivera went on to get Greer and Gonzalez to ground out and finished off the inning by striking out Clark.
Guts made it easy.
With a shot at redemption squarely in his sights, Mo took the mound against the team that the year before had helped end his first season as New York's closer.
Rivera came in to shut the door in the ninth with a two-run lead. Jim Thome, Brian Giles and David Justice (both pinch-hitters) stood between him and his goal.
Two of the three straight lefties were retired, while Justice was able to work a walk. But no problem, Enrique Wilson was sent packing via a strikeout.
With a 3-2 lead going into the ninth inning of Game 2, Rivera was called on to pitch again a day after he threw two innings in the Game 1 win.
To make matters worse, he would have to face John Valentin, Brian Daubach and Nomar Garciaparra.
After recording two quick outs, Rivera allowed two straight singles and put the tying run 90 feet away. It looked as though a tired Rivera would give this one up against Boston.
But in pure Rivera fashion, he struck out Damon Buford to give the Bombers a 2-0 series lead.
With a tie game heading into the ninth and no chance for a save opportunity, Rivera came in for his normal ninth inning with the obvious chance he could pitch the 10th.
But what Rivera didn't know was that Joe Torre would call on him to pitch three innings, something that was even out of the ordinary for the greatest closer of all-time.
Rivera would end up facing 11 batters in his three innings of work and allowed the potential go-ahead run to reach base twice.
Mo did not surrender a run and even had his best inning in the third frame when he struck out two in the 11th.
Mo's brilliant performance would set the stage for one of the most memorable moments in MLB playoff history: Aaron Boone's walk-off homer against Tim Wakefield that propelled New York to another World Series opportunity.