The mere possibility that Mariano Rivera could come back from his horrific knee injury this season has got my blood flowing.
After watching Mo writhe in pain on the Kansas City warning track (I’m really starting to develop a hatred for that stadium after Mo’s injury and the fans’ vicious treatment of Robinson Cano at the All-Star game), I had no expectation that we would see him on a mound again in the 2012 baseball season. I was resigned to the fact that the New York Yankees would have to try for another World Series championship without their killer closer. But not so fast, according to Mo, who would not rule out a return to the Yankees this year.
Mo is a man of unshakeable faith and a fierce competitor so it could be just his competitive fire talking. Brian Cashman firmly dismissed the possibility of a Rivera return this year and he is not going to let Mo take chances with his health, especially not with the Yankees running away with the American League East. But with Mo (and his doctor) confirming that his knee is healing faster than expected (no great surprise given that Mo is the very definition of good health even at his age) and Mo apparently past the scary blood clot situation that delayed his surgery, it seems very possible that Mo could come back sometime in September to get himself ready for a long playoff run. Perhaps as with Andy Pettitte’s injury, Mo’s freak accident could ultimately be seen as a blessing in disguise in that the two older, clutch Yankees could return to the mound incredibly fresh for October.
Like Mariano, I don’t want to get my hopes up that we will see him on a mound again this year, but just the talk of a possible return warms my heart. Can you imagine the boost he would give to the Yankees and their fan base if he defies all expectations and returns this year to help the Yankees win championship #28? It would just add to the legend that is Mariano Rivera and provide another storybook chapter in a Hall of Fame-bound career.
As fantastic as Rafael Soriano has been in the two months since he took over the closer’s job, there is no one I trust in a big game situation more than Mariano Rivera to protect a Yankees lead. The Yankees have lived and died with him on the mound in critical games during their championship years. And that is the way it should be.