Roche: A Sad Day For Baseball

By Dan Roche, WBZ Sports

BOSTON (CBS) – The look on Alex Rodriguez’s face said it all when Mariano Rivera went down in a heap while snagging fly balls during batting practice in Kansas City Thursday night. You can see ARod mouthing the words, “Oh my God, Oh my God….”.

Yep, the greatest closer in the history of Major League Baseball is done.

Mariano Rivera has been the Yankees closer since 1997. He has recorded 608 saves, most in MLB history. He is a 12-time All-Star. He’s been a World Seried MVP.

But, he goes beyond the numbers.

Mo was automatic. Every Red Sox fan knew that when you played the Yankees during the prime years f this rivalry, you HAD to have the lead after 7 innings or you were done. All because of Mariano Rivera.

Read: Dan Roche’s Sports Blog

Sure, the Sox got to Rivera at times. One of my all-time favorite Fenway Park memories was the home opener in 2005 when the Red Sox got their World Series rings. Rivera, who the Sox got to at crucial times in the comeback during the 2004 ALCS, received a standing ovation when he was introduced. It was one of those rare spontaneous moments in sports that caused everyone to laugh… including the man himself. To watch him tip his cap, smile, and laugh was priceless. At that moment, the save machine that we all knew him as became a human to us all.

He was arguably one of the most respected players in the history of the game; A pro’s pro. And, he did it all with basically one pitch: that magnificent cutter. It was lethal — to both right-handed and left-handed hitters — and 99.5-percent of the time impossible to hit.

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Jonathan Papelbon is arguably a top-10 closer of all-time. He tossed 25 scoreless innings in the postseason to start his career, has a World Series titles, etc. But, he was always pitching in the shadow of Mariano Rivera. Pap never got his due while he was here, because Mo was so good.

Go look up his numbers. Ridiculous.

And, now with atirn ACL, it looks like the 42-year-old’s career is over, which is too bad. He was one of the best to ever put on a uniform.

Follow WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on twitter @RochieWBZ

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