We all know who the best Yankee is, and has been, since 1996. Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer in the history of the game, the best pitcher in baseball over this career span, and the most valuable Yankee in that period—Derek Jeter not excepted. The Yankees’ fortunes since 1997 (when Mo, who had been the setup man the season before, replaced John Wetteland as the Yankees’ closer) have been predicated entirely on the basis of how well they got from the starter to him. It shouldn’t be necessary to make a case for Mariano based on statistics—it’s so obvious that he’s the best—but his career ERA is 2.30, and the only man who has more saves, Trevor Hoffman, is at 2.76. Try this, Yankees fans: Look up the careers of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Whitey Ford, and compare them with that of Mariano Rivera, who is headed for his 14th good season with the Yankees—is that more good seasons than Ruth, Gehrig, or Ford had? If so, does that make him the greatest Yankee of all time?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 21, 2009