I heard the news yesterday via the back cover of the NY Post, and my initial response was not what it would have been back in May when Mo tore his ACL shagging fly balls in Kansas City, as it was a feeling of guilt.
See like all other Yankees fans my respect and complete god-like worshipping for Mariano is undeniable.
This guy is the best closer to ever play the game. He is a post-season force; a pure winner who has attained success with just one pitch – a cutter that batters have not been able to figure out for almost two decades.
And in baseball it is almost unheard of to find a closer who doesn’t do some type of victory dance, crazy fist pump, grow ridiculous facial hair or un-tucking of their shirt. Mo, like clockwork, jogs towards the catcher, shakes his hand and puts his other arm around his back.
Marino Rivera is the definition of a true gentleman.
But my adoration for Mo is based on so much more than purely his success on the mound; as everyone knows what he has achieved as an athlete but to say he is an example that you want your kids to aspire to in life would be an understatement.
Mo is rarefied air off the field as well, which sadly is almost incomprehensible in pro-sports these days.
Seldom do you find a superstar become even more accountable in the face of defeat than victory. He is consistent, approachable and ready to teach his famous cutter to anyone who asks.
He loves his family, is a devoted Christian and has never forgotten or shied away from his roots in Panama.
Being team oriented and helping others comes naturally to Mo, who is only at his worst and blatantly uncomfortable when any praise is geared towards his own individual accomplishments.
I think you get the point here, that there is no denying that I am a huge fan of Mariano Rivera.
Than why did my stomach drop when I saw that Mo was coming back next season?
It makes me sick to admit this but I do not know if Mo puts the Yankees in the best position to win.
Selfishly, and knowing Mo took home $15 million in 2012, my second reaction was that his decision handcuffs the Yankees into bowing out of re-signing Rafael Soriano. In case you didn’t know, Soriano, whose agent is Scott Boras, just opted out of the third year of his current Yankee contract, leaving $14-million on the table to test free agency. Thank you again Scott Boras.
So now Yankee fans basically need to be ready to go on a season-long, Chipper Jones-like farewell tour but without the services of Soriano sitting in the dugout in case of an emergency?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
Look, I hope my intuition is wrong, as I will happily eat crow for a decade if that is the case. But numbers, as in stats and age, don’t lie.
And not only that but Mo will retire at the end of next season, and with the Yankee brass trying to embrace frugality in 2014 who is going to get the ball the ninth inning?
The farm system is in turmoil; reliever David Robertson is the best set-up man in baseball but has shown zero sign that he can handle the ninth; and Joba Chamberlain’s, if he can stay healthy for a season, head might blow up under that kind of pressure.
ESPN is reporting that Royals closer Joakim Soria, who is coming off Tommy John surgery would be happy to set-up for Mo but he made $8 million last season, would want a multiyear deal and who knows if he can get back to his former self. The Yankees cannot literally afford to chance making these mistakes now, so that option is risky and one that I doubt Cashman is going to do, as there are going to be other needs to fill with limited resources.
And please spare me the BS of what an honor it would be for some dominate closer just to wear the famous pinstripes that he might come to the Bronx at a discount, as I might as well start writing a pre-thank you card to Scott Boras tomorrow.