Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Will Mariano Rivera really say goodbye?

Will Mariano Rivera really call it quits after the 2012 baseball season is over?

It’s hard to imagine anyone walking away still at the top of their game, as Mo clearly is, but it seems like he is planning to do exactly that at the end of the year. Mo did not directly say he would retire, but he strongly hinted that the end of his unmatchable career is close to completion.

After achieving the all-time saves record last year, Mo has nothing else left to do in baseball. His status as the greatest reliever in the history of baseball is completely secure. He has five World Series rings and will hopefully win a sixth before he calls it quits. Mo could have even decided to join Jorge Posada in retirement this offseason if he didn’t have another year left on his contract. But Mo just has too much integrity to leave the New York Yankees in the lurch like that.

How do you replace an icon? The Yankees are actually in pretty good shape there. David Robertson has proven he has the chops to pitch late innings in tight games and has absolutely no fear of dangerous baseball situations. If Joba Chamberlain can come back from his arm injury, and all reports are that he is making excellent progress, then he can serve as Robertson’s back-up and take over the 8th inning role. In a worst-case scenario, the Yankees also have Rafael Soriano, who has closer experience, and could try him out in the role.  

But I’m not sure if the Yankees are ready to lose their iconic closer. Even the heir apparent Robertson is unconvinced, suggesting that Rivera could “Brett Favre us”, meaning that he could decide not to retire. I would love it if that were true, but the tone of Mo’s recent comments suggest that as much as he would miss baseball, he is tired of the grind and of being away from his kids so much.

So of course he can call it quits. All good things come to an end eventually. At least we have a chance to say a proper goodbye. 

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