The past 15 years have been one of the most memorable eras in Yankee history and that's saying a lot considering the illustrious history of the Bronx Bombers. This era has seen a lot of great players come and go, but who is the greatest Yankee of this era?
Mariano Rivera of course.
The field is narrowed down between the Core Four: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte. Each of these players have special distinctions in Yankees history.
Derek Jeter has played the game the right way his entire career. Off the field, Jeter has never been bogged down by distractions and has always been a leader. Other than Mo, he has been the model of consistency for the Bombers. He has had countless big hits in big spots and made huge plays with his glove as well (something that has never been much appreciated until Eduardo Nunez took the field).
Jorge Posada has been one of the best offensive catchers in the game's history and will be well celebrated when his time is done. Despite lackluster defense throughout, much like Jeter, Posada has had many memorable moments with the bat and has caught the majority of the games for the Bombers five championships of this era.
Andy Pettitte has had an important role for the Yanks as well. Pettitte is one of the Yankees big game pitchers and could possibly be one of the best big game pitchers in Yankee history. There are very few other pitchers Yankees' fans would rather give the ball to in a big spot than Pettitte, proving so even in his later years.
Then there is Mariano Rivera.
42 career postseason saves, many of them more than the normal one inning of work most closers are expected to pitch. He has bailed the Yankees out of so many sticky situations and has rarely failed. He has always played the game the right way and done the right things off the field as well.
Despite his strong belief in God, you'll never see the humble Yankees' closer pointing to the sky or pounding his chest and screaming after a save. Just a shake of the hand to his teammates and in the clubhouse he goes.
Flashy was never a word used to describe Rivera and despite his greatness, he has never spoken a word to think he is cocky. That's the mark of a true legend, making a statement of greatness with great play not a lot of talk.
So what does Rivera have over any of the other Core Four?
In the future of the MLB, there can be another Jeter, Pettitte and certainly Posada. There will never be another Rivera.
While you can point to players in the past that are similar to the other three, Rivera is one of a kind and without a shadow of a doubt, he is the greatest player at his position in the history of the sport. A fact that can't be said for the other three.
Combined with all he has meant to his organization and it's fans, as well as his place in history as the greatest closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera is the greatest Yankee of this era.