Today: May 29, 2024

Sports Commentary: Mariano looking and playing like it’s 1999

Pete Paguaga, Sports Editor:

Last weekend, after a long day of classes and watching “The Office,” I turned on the Yankees game and saw that they were down 5-3. As I sat there watching the game with my roommates, I obvi­ously was rooting for the Yankees to come back and win, but I was really hoping that they would take the lead going in the 9th innings so that Mariano Rivera would come in.

The Yankees ended up coming back to tie the game in the 9th, which meant that the “Sandman,” at the ripe age of 41, would be coming in to hold the tie in the top of the 10th.

Nick Markakis led off with a quick base hit; then Rivera got Derrek Lee to ground into a double play and then he got Vladimir Guerrero to ground out to end the inning. Just like that the inning was over, it didn’t even look like a drip of sweat came off of Rivera.

This isn’t anything new to anyone who has watched base­ball since Rivera started mowing down hitters with his fierce cutter in 1996. However, he is 41 years old and is not only the best relief pitcher in baseball history, but, some could argue, he is the best and most valuable player in baseball since 1996, starting pitchers included.

Year in and year out, as pitchers and hitters get old and retire or their statistics fall off, Rivera looks like he is the same 27-year-old, who former Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly said “needs to pitch in a higher league, if there is one. Ban him from baseball. He should be illegal.” That was in 1996 when Rivera was just getting started.

Nothing has changed. Yeah, he might look older as the years have gone on, but his stuff is the same, his dominance remains and when he comes into the game for a save, just give the Yankees the win because the game is over.

Is it his cutter, which some call the greatest pitch to ever be thrown in the game of baseball? Is it the way he handles himself on the mound, not showing an ounce of emotion whether he saves or when he rarely blows the game? Or is it when “Enter Sandman” blares through the speakers at Yankee Stadium, striking fear into the opposing hitters and giving Yankees fans the chills?

Since he has joined the Yankees, they have won five World Series Championships. If Rivera had been traded, like the Yankees thought about doing before the 1996 season, I would say the Yankees definitely wouldn’t have five champi­onships and they might have won one, maybe two.

Yankees, Red Sox, Mets or fans of any other team, there is nothing bad you can say about Rivera. You might not like him when he is pitching against you, but you cannot deny he is the greatest pitcher any of us have ever had the honor of watching.

1 Comment

  1. Mariano is great. He is a great pitcher and a wonderful person. We can all learn a lot from Mo, stay aclm when the presure is on, stay cool no matter the odds, if you get beat, acknowlegde the other team’s good play.
    Mariano is a class act on and off the field.
    KeepRocking these great articles Pete

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