MLB AL East New York Yankees: Tracking the Greatness of Mariano Rivera
One pitch. One pitcher. Dominant over a time period that is unheard of for a closer. I am of course speaking of Mariano ''Mo'' Rivera.
He walks to the mound and his small frame isn't very intimidating. It lulls even the best hitters into a false sense of security. But Mo has an ace up his sleeve that most pitchers would kill for.
I'd even go so far to say it is one of the top 10 or 15 best pitches in baseball history. These are just some of the reasons Mariano has been able to accomplish so much over his distinguished career.
Today, I'm going to break down some of the reasons he has been able to shine in the major leagues for so long with seemingly so little.
1. The Cut Fastball
I remember a game against the A's years ago. The game was on the line and Mariano stepped in to face Mark Mcgwire. This was before he went over to the Cardinals.
The crowd was enthralled. This was nothing less for the fans than power versus power, the two best in the business at what they do, facing off against each other.
McGwire was down worked the count full. He knew what pitch was coming. Everybody watching or listening to this game knew what was coming.
Mariano snapped off his cutter and McGwire didn't even bother swinging. Game over. Mcgwire stood there looking at Mariano and placed his helmet on home plate. Quite a sign of respect.
There are no secrets here, we always know whats coming and have for the last 13, 14 years or so. but it does no good.
Mo's cutter is unfair, and his contemporaries agree almost to a man that it is the single most effective pitch any pitcher has thrown in the last 20 years.
2. Flawless mechanics
For a man his size and stature, many hitters to this day get lulled to sleep watching Mariano pitch.
His mechanics are so smooth, his delivery easily repeatable, basically allowing Mariano to challenge hitters regularly.
Young pitchers should take note of how efficient his motion is, with no wasted movement and impeccable follow through.
3. Pitching in New York
No sweat. Mariano has been pitching under the intense spotlight of New York for 15, 16 years.
He always talks to reporters, never throws anyone under the bus, never complains and always hold himself accountable.
New York Yankee fans don't want excuses, they want titles, and Mariano's unflappable will has been a huge part of that during his tenure with the Yanks.
4. Sustained excellence
What pitcher can boast about being as good now as he was 15 years ago? Well, Mariano certainly can.
Just seeing him out there boosts team morale and puts opposing teams on edge. He is that rare baseball player who can do that.
It's amazing he has never won a Cy Young award.
Mo has never considered pitching anywhere but New York.
Yes, he gets tons of money, but besides that, he puts it on the line every time he goes out there to pitch and his contributions for the only team he has ever known, are difficult to quantify.
He's been dominant for so long, where do you begin to explain how good he is? I can say this though: When he's on the mound, the Yanks stop worrying.
He's their guy, and always will be.
6. All business
Mo walks out to the mound with one thing on his mind: getting rid of the guy he's facing as quickly as possible.
He breaks more bats than anyone I've ever seen, he's a great fielder and a tremendous leader. he embraces every role they give him, and flourishes.
Thank You for Your Time!
I could go on and on, but I've made my point.
Where would the Yanks be without this man, generally viewed as the greatest closer of all time? Thank goodness thats a question I'll never have to ask.
This is my first article you guys, so please help me out with comments. I only ask that you be constructive in your criticism.
Thanks for your time everyone!
*for a look at Rivera's career and season by season statistics, check this site out