Friday, May 04, 2012

No More Mo? Mariano Rivera Suffers Torn ACL And Career Is In Jeopardy

It's probably the last way that Mariano Rivera thought his career would end. Landing awkwardly during shagging fly balls during the pregame warmup routine.

His face told the tale. The pain in his knee and needing to be carted off for an MRI.

Rivera will need surgery, but the Yankees are now peering into the future of life without the greatest closer of all time backstopping their bullpen as he has since 1997.
The numbers for this 12-time All-Star are simply ridiculous:

First on the all-time saves list with 608
1119 strikeouts and 277 walks in more than 1200 innings
A 2.21 ERA and 0.998 WHIP
A career ERA+ (which measures his ERA against his peers, with 100 being average) of 206.
And then don’t forget the postseason: 42 saves in 96 games. A 0.70 ERA and a 0.759 WHIP. And five championship rings.
His ERA is the lowest of any pitcher with 1,000+ innings since the live-ball era began. Better than Hoyt Wilhelm. Better than Whitey Ford. Better than Sandy Koufax.

Yet, Rivera's statistics tell only part of the tale. While his career on the field is worthy of first ballot Hall of Fame induction, it's his off the field demeanor and grace that sets him apart from everyone else.

He's as classy and respectful of the game, his fellow players, and the fans as anyone who ever put on cleats.

Rivera will now have to go through surgery and consider rehabilitation and whether he thinks he can return to his prior form, which for him means being the best closer of all time. If he thinks he can return, he'll do everything possible to make his return possible. However, if he doesn't think he can return to his former greatness, he might never take to the mound again.

And it's a shame for not only Yankee fans, but the game of baseball. A talent like his comes so infrequently that watching him pitch was something that everyone appreciated - you could see it in the eyes of rival hitters and pitchers alike particularly at All Star Games. He would sit around and talk with anyone who wanted to about his cutter, the pitch that made him so incredibly effective. He'd talk mechanics and technique with anyone, and while some managed to attempt cutters of their own, none could master the technique with such precision.

It's a gift, and it was an incredible pleasure to watch him pitch in pinstripes for all these years. It's sad that we may not see him play competitive again, though one can hold out hope that he might be able to come back from even this.

We can only hope.

Well, that was quick. Mariano issued a statement saying that he would definitely come back for 2013.
"I'm coming back," he said. "Write it down in big letters."

Rivera was on crutches today and said that he's heard he could be back to work in 3-5 months. He would not rule out pitching this season but said if everything goes right he'll be completely ready by spring training next year.

He plans on telling his teammates as a group, something he hadn't done by the time the clubhouse opened to the media.

Rivera said he decided late Thursday night in his hotel room and that he will fly back to New York Saturday.

"You don't go out like this," Rivera said.

No comments: