Thursday, November 29, 2012
No. 42 celebrates No. 43
By Wallace Matthews
Happy birthday wishes to Mariano Rivera, who today celebrates his 43rd.
The milestone is remarkable in that Mo will not only pitch into his 44th year -- he and the Yankees are said to be in the late stages of negotiating a one-year deal for 2013 -- but that he will do it coming off knee surgery besides.
It also affords The Great Rivera an opportunity to add yet another unprecedented accomplishment to his resume. Mo, of course, is at the top of the all-time saves list with 608, and consider this: Of the next nine closers on the the all-time list, how many combined saves do they have after their 43rd birthdays?
The answer is one.
2. Trevor Hoffman? Zero. 3. Lee Smith? Zero. 4. John Franco? Zero. Starting to pick up the trend here? Only Dennis Eckersley, No. 6 on the list with 390 saves, was able to close out a game, just one, as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 1998, his final season.
So baseball history would seem to be against much success for Mo this season, although Mo's own history says he will rewrite that section of the record book, too.
I can guarantee he will break Eckersley's mark for saves by a 43-year-old.
The question for you is, by how many? What kind of a year is fair to expect from Mariano Rivera at an age at which no closer has ever been successful?