Mariano Rivera Greatest Ever, But Human

John Kekis - Associated Press

BLOOMINGBURG, NY – Not that I would know, but to be so extremely good at something is really somewhat boring. There are those rare athletes that are almost always going to come out on top in competition and one of those was Mariano Rivera, who was inducted as the first unanimous selection into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Leave it to a Mets fan who is well aware of bullpen failure past and very present to report on the Greatest Relief Pitcher of All-Time, Mariano Rivera.

John Kekis – Associated Press

Gotta go to Mo. The Yankees did that time and again for nineteen years. Nineteen years of success will spoil an already privileged fan base because when this guy took the mound over his career it was lights out. There have been as many New York blackouts as post season hiccups for Rivera to prove only that he is human after all. A sports fan remembers them since this happened only three times in pressure-packed October baseball which is usually synonymous with the Yankees. It was big news when Sandy Alomar, Jr. of the Cleveland Indians went yard on Rivera in the 1997 ALDS, the 2001 World Series when the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied without a hard hit ball in Game 7, and the 2004 ALCS versus Boston when the Sawx stunned the world in their comeback from an 0-3 series hole. Sure, there were a bunch of regular season blown saves but those will happen over the course of a 162 game season and are forgettable and forgivable when you’re the best at what you do on this planet. Sum up The Sandman’s body of work where he showed zero signs of opponents catching up to him in the twilight of his career and there you have what separates him from others. To be that dominant for so long is downright ridiculous.

What’s even more outstanding is the amount of class this guy showed on and off the field. I didn’t watch his acceptance speech yesterday because like everything else, this humble man from Panama does what he does with the utmost respect. As the MLB leader in saves, he could have come up with a signature celebration when closing out a game but he always chose to shake hands with his catcher and ho hum on to the next game.  I’ll never be mistaken for a Yankees fan and while it was bothersome to see the Pinstripes win those World Championships during Rivera’s tenure, there was a tremendous amount of respect for Rivera due to his approach in this modern era of “me first” athletes.  Sometimes there’s symbiosis in sports and it seemed only fitting that the reliever closed out the wearing of Jackie Robinson’s uniform number 42.  A player and man of this magnitude only comes along so often and as a New Yorker, I witnessed the unparalleled greatness of Mariano Rivera.

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A man amongst men. Cheesy Bruin kicked cancer to the curb - twice. The Cheese Man's a big, tough teddy-bear who survived the Bronx despite being an unabashed Boston Bruins fan and Sargent-At-Arms for Angry Ward's Urban Spur Posse. Nuff said. Doctors have taken most of this throat and had to make him a new tongue from thigh-meat (his own) and still he won't shut up about the Bruins, Cowboys, Pirates and Cleveland Cavaliers. And yes, his kids do love him.