New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera through the eyes of a Mets fan

Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

With the unanimous election of New York Yankees ex-closer Mariano  Rivera to Cooperstown, a Mets fan looks at his career through his perspective.

This is a personal look back at New York Yankees legend Mariano Rivera through the eyes of yours truly. Being a Mets fan all my life I wanted to bring my different look at his career. So this one is going to be a bit more personal.

All of my life has been spent as a Yankee hater. My Dad is a Mets fan and never was a Yankees fan, growing up on Long Island. My Mom has no interest in sports so he was my primary influence as far as fandom is concerned. So, it has been life as a Mets fan.

If you know my writing you know I am also a Jets fan so I get mad at him for teaching me about heartbreak at such a young age. But that is for another discussion.

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Dad, when you read this, of course I am teasing. Nobody better at teaching my teams to me in my formative years.

But Mariano was quite different. He was a different breed.

Believe it or not, one of my most impressive memories was Rivera’s first full year in the big leagues, 1996.

That year was particularly special as a fan of pitching. He set up for John Wetteland and that bullpen was unstoppable.

If you got to the 7th inning behind, the game was over. That 1996 Yankees team was hard not to be impressed by, even as a Yankee hater.

And Rivera was so dominant in that setup role it became almost not fair. He would throw that cutter and nobody would come close.

That is how he made a career. The next year he became the closer and we all know how that went.

We can talk all day about his various awards, accolades, big saves, and everything else. However, after watching from afar, the most appropriate word I can use to describe Rivera is “consistent”.

Prior to 2011, Rivera posted one year of under 30 saves. His average was 39 saves per season. If that isn’t consistent I don’t know what is.

It was also hard to hate on his unbelievable talent. He threw one pitch, the cutter. Everybody knew it was coming. The announcers would discuss the pitch every time he entered. Yet, nobody could hit it.

You would think, how could major league hitters not be able to hit a guy that throws the same pitch over and over again? Well that’s how good Rivera was. It was something we will NEVER see again.

My hatred was prominent in 2000. Why? He posted two saves in the World Series against the Mets. They got to him in game two for two runs, much to my surprise, but the Yankees won the game anyway. He appeared in the last two games, allowed one hit over three innings.

Just another set of notches on Rivera’s belt of greatness.

In his final appearance, who could not be moved by how he was removed from the game:

What a wonderful moment for a legend. He was classy off the field and dominant on it.

The fact that he was able to increase his dominance in the postseason made his legend just that much easier to appreciate, even for a hater Mets fan like myself.

Look at his ERA. He posted a 2.21 ERA in the regular season. Certainly that is a solid number. In the playoffs and World Series, it jumped all the way down to 0.70.

We didn’t need the numbers to know how good he was. Just watch. Again, even as a Yankees hater, one would have to be blind and unfeeling to not appreciate the greatness of Mariano Rivera.

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It ended on Tuesday night just the way it should have. The first player to ever be a unanimous selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Congratulations to Mariano Rivera. Your career will never be matched. The vote gave you exactly what you deserved.

Welcome to Cooperstown, NY. Take your place with the very best. I will be there, and I will be cheering.

But I won’t wear a jersey. That will be left to my lovely wife who is a die-hard Yankee fan.