The reaction to the inevitable end of Mariano Rivera’s career inspired maudlin whimpering and prognostications of doom as to the Yankees’ fate without the all-time saves leader.
Rivera’s cryptic statements and oft-mentioned reluctance to leave his family every February have led to the belief that this is definitely his final season.
Rivera’s comments saying he knows what his decision will be, that he’s not sharing it with the media yet and that he’d like to go out on top of his game all point to retirement, but if he’s decided to retire at the end of the season, then why not just say it?
Rivera may be leaning a certain way, but because he’s chosen not to state it outright, he’s leaving himself plausible wiggle room to do what he wants.
There’s no reason to go into a depression about it now and contemplate an immediate future without Rivera.
It’s in the post-season where Rivera has become something more than Joe Nathan who, like it or not, for a few years put up regular season stats very comparable to Rivera’s. Had Nathan been able to get the outs in the post-season—outs that Rivera has consistently recorded—won a championship or two with the Twins and been the man on the mound to celebrate when they did it, he might be mentioned as a “Hall of Fame closer” in his own right.
Rivera’s longevity and maintenance of greatness, along with the way he’s gotten batters out all combine to highlight his uniqueness. There’s been no deviation in the strategy from 1996 to now. It’s the cutter, the ice in his veins, and that’s it.
Whereas pitchers like Trevor Hoffman had to adjust from his younger days as a flamethrower to a changeup artists, it’s “here it is, hit it if you can” with Rivera, as it’s always been.
The Yankees won’t prototypically “replace” him because they can’t. They’ll stick someone in the role and hope.
But that’s not something to worry about now; he hasn’t said anything specific despite the allusions. That’s because he’s not 100% sure yet in spite the suggestion and panicky, borderline sickening reactions to the contrary.
Eventually it’s going to happen. It could be in 2013, 2014 or 2015. We don’t know. But it will happen. In his absence, the Yankees will find someone to accumulate the saves during the regular season even if it’s (uch) Rafael Soriano.
Life will go on.