"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Say No Mo

Every year for the past decade there is a period, a game or two, a few weeks, when Mariano Rivera struggles. During those times, the newspapers have articles about the decline and his career. But now, that kind of article has more resonance. Like this one from Tyler Kepner in the Times:

Rivera, who turns 42 in November, has 29 saves. Only one pitcher has had 30 saves at that age: Dennis Eckersley, for St. Louis in 1997. Eckersley played one more season, as a middle reliever with Boston. In the last inning of his career, in a playoff game against Cleveland, he served up a homer to Manny Ramirez that might still be going.

Nobody wants to see Rivera end like that. Or like the great Goose Gossage, bouncing to seven teams in his final seven seasons, picking up a stray save here or there. There is nobility in pitching as long as you can, in making summer last as long as possible. But it would not suit Rivera, a career Yankee who defines athletic grace.

“I don’t think he will hang around,” the Angels’ Torii Hunter said. “He loves the game, but every player wants to be the best. You don’t want to be last known as the guy who’s giving up two home runs in the World Series. He’s not even close to where he’s going to be out of the game, but I’m pretty sure a guy like that would love to go out on top.”

The final mystery in Mo’s career is how it will end. We hope for it to be special, for him to “go out on top,” though we know the reality will be messier than that.

[Painting by Stephen Holland]


1 The Hawk   ~  Aug 11, 2011 8:58 am

I guess I go against conventional wisdom because I admire the athlete who keeps trying even when they're past their prime. Like Jordan; he cared more about playing and competing and trying to dominate against all odds than about his career stats and "going out on top". I like that. Sure it can be ugly and sad at times but often it demonstrates something I like to see in professional athletes, that indomitable never-say-die spirit.

2 RagingTartabull   ~  Aug 11, 2011 9:16 am

I have a funny feeling that when it ends, and THIS is not the end, it will be him coming to the realization in Spring Training that he doesn't have it. You'll hear he's staying behind an extra couple of weeks to "work things out" and then sometime around April 15th there will be a press conference.

and then we'll all freak the fuck out.

3 Shaun P.   ~  Aug 11, 2011 9:29 am

[2] and then we'll all freak the fuck out. and then we'll all book our travel to Cooperstown in 5 years.

Much better. ;)

[2] I think Mo is likely to exit a la DiMaggio - a little early and certainly not late. I don't think he is there yet.

4 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 11, 2011 9:33 am

[3] good point. i could see mo retiring at the end of this contract. and i have absolutely no doubt he's got enough left for next year.

5 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2011 9:39 am

[1] I agree. I for one have no problem with a great player hanging around "too long," especially if he can continue to contribute something. Thus, it would not make me sad if Mo's last year, whenever that is, is spent as a middle reliever. I for one would be happy to have a few more chances to see him play.

[3][4] My gut instinct is that Mo wants the all time saves record, which he should get easily by early next season even if he suddenly goes into a steep decline. Everything after that will be gravy, from a personal achievement perspective.

6 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2011 9:40 am

[5] Heck, he's 13 from tying the record, with about 30 games left to go. I doubt he makes it this year, but he could come close. I bet he gets about 13 more appearances before the season ends.

7 ms october   ~  Aug 11, 2011 9:58 am

yeah it is possible he could get the all-time saves record this year, but more likely next year.
i could also see mo retiring after his contract is up.
but mo is a little mysterious so maybe he is someone that would be okay with being a serviceable middle reliever.

8 Shaun P.   ~  Aug 11, 2011 10:02 am

[7] He might accept a middle reliever role, though I'd be a little surprised.

I will be shocked, though, if he isn't a coach at some point. Probably not right away, because he's such a family man, but in a few years. There are always articles from the other relievers and the "kids" about how much Mo loves to work with them.

9 RagingTartabull   ~  Aug 11, 2011 10:15 am

[8] I can totally see him being a coach, or some sort of Front Office type. Although I can also see him doing missionary work in the Amazon and we never hear from him ever again.

Who I legitimately DO think will be a coach at some point, if not necessarily on this staff, is Posada. I think its inevitable.

10 ms october   ~  Aug 11, 2011 10:15 am

[8] i would too, but i do think there is an air of mystery to mo that would lead him to something that might surprise all of us.
i could definitely see him coaching too. most people with so much talent don't make good coaches but that does not seem to be the case with mo who seems to be able to help many relievers. and also personally.

11 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 11, 2011 10:16 am

I could see Mo as a coach, for sure.

12 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 11, 2011 10:17 am

[8] yes, especially with the cutter becoming a widely used weapon. i've heard people call the cutter the splitter of today and talk of the cutter being partially responsible for the down offense.

who better to teach it?

13 RIYank   ~  Aug 11, 2011 10:22 am

Oh, it's obvious. Mo will go out when our big yellow sun goes out. It will be tough locating the cutter when the earth is engulfed in the supernova, but he'll keep going for a good billion years after that.

14 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2011 11:04 am

[13] OK, but when is that relative to Brett Gardner running? I always found this stuff confusing.

15 RIYank   ~  Aug 11, 2011 11:28 am

[14] Years ago. Come on, he's 41, nobody can pitch like that in his 40s.

16 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Aug 11, 2011 8:44 pm

I'm going to cry when Mariano retires. :(

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver