Mariano Rivera’s Injury: What Does it Mean to You?
Thursday May 10th, 2012
Rob Bland: Last week, there was a bit of a disruption in the baseball world. At first, I saw on Twitter as a few beat writers reported that Mariano Rivera fell to the ground during batting practice before a game against the Kansas City Royals. They said it looked bad, and that three guys carried him to a stretcher to get carted off the field. It seemed like the entire Yankees fan base collectively held their breath while awaiting news of their closer’s future.
I will admit that I am not a Yankees fan. I am a fan of a team with far less championships and a smaller fan base in the same division as the mighty Yankees. But reality is that the most storied franchise in all of baseball, and probably all of sport, lost one of their true greats. A sad moment for any fan of the game. However, the good news is that even at 42 years old, Rivera has vowed that he would pitch again in 2013 after surgery and a grueling rehabilitation process. Mo will return.
There have been dozens of great pieces written about Rivera, the last man to wear number 42 every day, after it was retired in 1997. Those players who were wearing 42 at the time were allowed to continue wearing it. I could go on for pages about how great of a pitcher Mariano is. Because he is great. But that’s not what this is about.
I could talk about his career 8.26 K/9, his 2.04 BB/9, or his ridiculous 53.2% ground ball rate. I could include that he has thrown 141 career innings in the postseason, while giving up just 86 hits, 11 earned runs, good for a 0.70 ERA. I am sure you have all heard that he basically has thrown one pitch his entire career. His cutter is the single best pitch in baseball. It is the best I have ever seen, and more than likely the best in the history of the game.
In my opinion, Rivera changed the game forever. Sure, there were guys who threw the cut fastball, but it was never used as a primary pitch. Pitchers would use it to augment a fastball if they were not able to develop a solid slider.
Now, you look at any Major League roster and there are at least 2 pitchers who throw a ton of cutters. Power pitchers to ground ball machines, have all learned this pitch. Which in truth has caught on due to Rivera’s success.
As a Toronto Blue Jays fan, I usually wish the worst upon both the Yankees and Red Sox.* However, when one of the most revered and respected men in the entire game goes down to injury, my heart feels for the Yankees. Sure, they have David Robertson, one of the best setup men over the last year and a bit to fill his shoes. But what happens to Robertson’s role? Rafael Soriano takes over. There is a trickle-down effect through the bullpen that doesn’t bode well for them, especially as their rotation’s ERA hovers around 5.00.
(*On the field, only, of course)
Not only is this loss a huge blow to the Yankees, but for baseball fans everywhere. If you don’t genuinely enjoy watching Rivera pitch, then I feel bad for you. What he does is art, in a time where pitching and the entire game is broken down into a science. It is an art that is pure and beautiful. Rivera pitching is a thing that brings me joy, even when he is closing out a game against my beloved Blue Jays.
Losing Rivera isn’t just a Yankees loss. It’s a loss for baseball fans everywhere. I can’t wait to see him back in pinstripes next season.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***
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Posted on May 10, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged acl, baseball, closer, cut fastball, cutter, david robertson, mariano rivera, mlb, new york yankees, rafael soriano, saves. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Mariano Rivera’s Injury: What Does it Mean to You?.