The "Mo"st Valuable Yankee Ever: Rivera

Jack DoranContributor IJune 30, 2009

NEW YORK - JUNE 30:  Relief pitcher Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees waves to the crowd after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in a game against the Seattle Mariners June 30, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Mariano Rivera.  How fortunate are Yankee fans to know this name?

As a player, few argue against naming Rivera the greatest closer ever.  In fact, the only person I've heard name better closers than Rivera is Rivera himself.  In a recent ESPN interview, Rivera rattled off many current closers he declared better than him.  Many beg to differ.

As a person, Rivera calls for such superlative words that writing them causes injustice.  But, I need to fill the page so how about: class, character, competitor, humble, thankful, gracious, teacher, mentor...and now omissions could fill the rest of the page.

The statistics on the back of the card have become stuff of legend.  The statistics in the postseason are unseen before and likely unseen again.

Inevitably, you hear analysts marvel that Rivera has made such a career with one pitch.  His immortal cut fastball.  If you look, it's more than one pitch.  It's one pitch that can locate on any one of the four quadrants of home plate.  With the command of a maestro, that one cutter becomes four.  And don't forget the put-away four-seam fastball up in the batter's eyes.

Now, as for the article's title, is Rivera the most valuable Yankee ever?  Was the hitter Ruth more valuable?  The pride of Gehrig?  The Clipper or Mick in center?  The Chairman of the Board Whitey on the hill?  The 10-ringed Berra?  I beg to differ.  I'll take "The Great Rivera".