Mariano Rivera: Could Closer's Announced Retirement Have Ray Lewis Effect?

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIMarch 7, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 10:  Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees throws out the first pitch prior to Game Three of the American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on October 10, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

With less than a month separating us from the 2013 MLB regular season opener, the New York Yankees have already dropped two bombshells on us.

For starters, first baseman Mark Teixeira will miss 8-to-10 weeks with a strained right wrist.

Hours later, we learned that Mariano Rivera will retire at season's end.

Unlike Teixeria's announcement, however, Rivera's decision could have a potential "Ray Lewis effect" for the Yankees.

For those unfamiliar, the Ravens were a reeling power much like the Yankees are today. They were labeled as too old, too injured and, quite frankly, too far past their prime to compete in a young man's game.

Just as the Yankees were swept out of the 2012 playoffs by the Detroit Tigers, Baltimore entered the postseason having lost four of the past five games.

Suddenly, the team's demeanor changed and they turned things around. With a complete team effort, the Ravens did the unthinkable and won the Super Bowl.

To preface these events, Ray Lewis dropped a bombshell mere days before the playoffs—he told the team that he was retiring at season's end.

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This lit a proverbial fire under Baltimore's behinds as they took down the best of the best to win the Super Bowl crown. They went on to take down Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick.

As fate would have it, Lewis led the NFL in postseason tackles.

For the Yankees, this is what Rivera's retirement announcement has the potential to do. For a team that has battled the labels of too injured and past their prime, Rivera's injury could be the spark for another World Series run.

Just check the tale of the tape—the Ravens and Yankees are eerily similar.

Comparing the Cases: Injuries

One of the least reported aspects of the Baltimore Ravens' magical run to the Super Bowl crown was the amount of injuries they battled. In specific, the Ravens were without lead cornerback Lardarius Webb.

It just so happens that the New York Yankees will also be without their decorated corner: first baseman, Mark Teixeira.

Webb helped lead the Ravens get off to a 5-1 start in 2012. Through six games, Webb had 25 tackles, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception.

Unfortunately, the playmaking cornerback suffered a torn ACL and proceeded to miss the rest of the season. The Ravens went on to  finish the season at 5-5.

As for the Yankees, Teixeira is out for 8-to-10 weeks with a strained right wrist (via ESPN New York). This comes mere weeks before the MLB regular season was set to commence, thus leaving the Yankees in disarray.

Teixeira's bat will be missed just as much as Webb's ball-hawking. It is their defensive fundamentals that make these players such an asset to their teams.

Webb was emerging as one of the NFL's elite shutdown cornerbacks. Teixeira, meanwhile, is a five-time Gold Glove award winner who defends first base as well as any in the MLB.

The question is: Could a potential retirement lead to players stepping up in a star's absence?

It worked for Baltimore.

Why not New York?

Comparing the Cases: Lewis vs. Rivera

Ray Lewis is widely considered to be one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history. There's even an argument to be made that he is the greatest linebacker in the history of the league.

As for Mariano Rivera, he holds a similar distinction. His statistics and postseason history suggest that he is the greatest closer in the history of the MLB.

Lewis was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, 13-time Pro Bowler, two-time Super Bowl champion, one-time Super Bowl MVP and a 10-time All-Pro. He's the only player in NFL history with 40 sacks and 30 interceptions and leads all inside linebackers in games and seasons.

During his final stand, 37-year-old Lewis recorded the most tackles in a single postseason at 51.

Rivera, meanwhile, is a 12-time All-Star, five-time World Series champion, one-time World Series MVP and a three-time season leader in saves. Rivera is also the all-time leader in career saves, as well as a five-time Rolaids Relief Man of the Year and three-time Delivery Man of the Year award winner.

Both of these men are decorated athletes who have conquered their sports. The most important factor, however, has nothing to do with accolades.

It's the fact that they've played for their respective teams for the duration of their careers.

Comparing the Cases: All About the Team

Mariano Rivera has spent every one of his 18 seasons with the New York Yankees. Ray Lewis played all 17 of his years in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens.

For that reason, one of these legends hanging up the boots isn't the end of an era.

It's a reason to send them out with an even greater legacy.

After Rivera has dedicated so much of life to the Yankees, it's likely that the team will stop at nothing to reward him with another world series title. As loyal and dominant as Rivera has been in pinstripes, this will be a season of destiny.

Whether or not the Yankees can make those dreams a reality, however, is merely a product of dedication.

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