I was born in 1990. The Yankees could barely fill any part of the upper deck in those days, struggling to draw 20,000 fans a game. They had not been to the playoffs in nearly a decade, and there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
Fortunately for me, I don't remember any of those days. The earliest memories of myself watching the Yankees came in 1996, when they beat the Atlanta Braves in six games to win the World Series.
Jim Leyritz was the hero of Game 4. John Wetteland was the MVP of the series. Derek Jeter was the rookie phenom. And Mariano Rivera was there to hold down the seventh and eighth innings.
Basically, for as long as I can remember being a Yankees fan, Mariano Rivera has been an integral part of the team. Although I knew this day would be coming soon, I never thought it might actually be today.
However, if this is the end for Mariano Rivera, then it is the beginning for David Robertson, who should be the rightful new owner of the closer role.
Robertson was a part of the Yankees' bullpen starting in 2008, but he never had a definitive role. He was closer to a long-relief/mop-up guy than anything else, and his ERA was usually just below 4.00.
In 2011, Robertson figured it all out. He gained control of his curveball, and his fastball garnered "sneaky pop" that jumps on the batter just as it gets to the plate. He struck out 100 batters in just 67 innings last year, earning himself a 1.08 ERA and even a few lower votes for the AL Cy Young.
This year, he is out to prove that the results from last year are no fluke. So far, he is doing a pretty damn good job of it, because he has not even given up a run in the regular season. The numbers so far? Eleven innings pitched, 18 strikeouts and a 0.00 ERA.
In 2011, Mariano signed a two-year contract, and most thought it would be the last two years of his career. In the same offseason, Rafael Soriano was brought in on a three-year, $39 million contract, with the intention of taking over the role once Mo hung up his cleats.
But now, Soriano is not the right man for the job. While he gets paid $14 million this year, Robertson barely scrapes $500K. Essentially, the right move would involve the Yankees paying $13.5 million more this year to get through the eighth inning.
Soriano might have been the answer at the beginning of last year, but he has lost far too much ground to a young kid who has the passion and desire to be in the game during its most important outs.
Joe Girardi says he will sleep on it before making his decision, but in the morning, the answer is clear: David Robertson is the man for the job.
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