Enter Sandman: The Great Mariano Rivera
It's the top of the ninth inning, the Yankees have a small lead, and the familiar opening to Metallica's "Enter Sandman" blares from the Stadium sound system.
Exit light, Enter night
A sound that gets drowned out behind the blaring music, cheers of 50,000 fans and sobs of the opposing players is the phrase being uttered by just about every fan, no matter what their team affiliation...
It's around the same time stench of fear rises out of the opposing teams dugout. It's not a fear of the unknown, it's the fear of something much worse.
Something's wrong, shut the light, heavy thoughts tonight
Everyone knows what pitch is coming: the batter, the bat boy, the fans, heck, even Susyn Waldman knows what coming.
Knowing the pitch adds to the fear because the batters know they can't hit it.
Rivera has turned the simple task of throwing a cut-fastball into an art-form, breaking bats and shattering the hopes and dreams of many who have opposed him. His cutter has become the most dominant pitch in baseball history, with the likes of Bob Feller's fastball and Sandy Koufax's curve-ball trailing behind.
It's not like Rivera balances it out with a solid change-up or curveball, it is as simple as one pitch: an 89-95 mph cutter with a lot of movement.
Every year the "experts" always question Rivera. For this years "expert" opinion check out ESPN the Mag's baseball preview, where they question if Rivera can put up the same type of numbers he did last year, or the 13 years before that.
The day after he gives up a game-winning home run in a meaningless April ballgame WFAN's phone lines will light up with people saying that Rivera isn't capable of doing the job anymore.
Hush little baby don't say a word, and nevermind that noise you heard
If he's looking more like Kevin Gregg than Mariano Rivera and it's August, then it's OK to make those phone calls, but until then, keep it to yourself.
Whether it's his approach to batters, or going purely by the numbers, Rivera has been a model of consistency since becoming a reliever.
He has been putting batters to sleep since 1996, and has shown no signs of slowing down. Expect the same in 2010.
Take my hand, we're off to never never-land
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