The Washington Times-Herald

Local Sports

July 19, 2013

Rivera in a class by himself

Mariano Rivera is the greatest relief pitcher we have ever seen, and that’s only half of the makeup of a truly great man. Rivera is universally respected, loved, idolized and he’s as nice a person as you could hope to come across. In any walk of life you rarely get to come in contact with someone so talented and so humble at the same time. Mariano is baseball’s Michael Jordan with the heart and mind of a humanitarian.

By nature professional athletes tend to be full of ego and bluster, it’s what makes them who they are. The supreme confidence in themselves is what catapulted them to the a plateau a majority of society only dreams of and they are treated like gods and in turn they often think they are God-like. Each newspaper clipping praising them adds to the lore of millions of adoring fans.

Amazingly, Rivera has never once showed himself to be full of himself in a world full of ego. Rivera is without a peer when it comes to closing games. Sure there have been great closers like Bruce Sutter, Dennis Eckersley, Lee Smith and Goose Gossage, but none of them were ever as dominant as Mariano. Rivera only pitches one inning per game, but it’s hard to under score how much he has impacted the sport of baseball and the historic New York Yankees franchise.

The closer position, more than any other position in any sport requires a short memory and supreme confidence in one’s ability to get the next man out. Sure Rivera has blown saves, but he bounces back in such a manner that it sometimes seems like he is a robot. In November 2001 on the precipice of history, Rivera had a bad inning when he absolutely couldn’t afford one and it cost his team and his city dearly.

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