Mo’s Money, No Problem

The traditional start of the season celebrations at Yankee Stadium gave baseball an initial opportunity to pay respect to one of the greatest players the game has ever seen, as Mariano Rivera accepted his final opening day introduction in front of his home crowd in the Bronx, and in doing so started the countdown on his final year in baseball.

Blessed with a ridiculously dominant cutter, Rivera has accumulated a wealth of eye-popping statistics to illustrate his stellar career with the New York Yankees. He currently holds the record for Saves with 608, and has logged 11 seasons with a sub 2.00 ERA. He has 42 Saves and a 0.70 ERA in the Postseason alone, and has a total of five World Series rings to show for his 18 years in the game. Mariano Rivera is the very epitome of the perfect Closer, though it is this very designation that cements his place in the game after 1969. In other words, he is a highly gifted child of the modern ‘Save’ era. He is without any doubt a first ballot Hall of Famer, but should it really be courtesy of the first unanimous vote in Baseball history as has been suggested?

There have been several theories offered as to why there never has been a 100% consensus by the BBWAA with respect to admittance to the Hall, with partisan voting, personality clashes, and sulfurous attitudes towards race and color all cited as possible reasons why 11 ballots in 1936 somehow omitted the name of George Herman Ruth, or 36 writers thought Jackie Robinson didn’t quite do enough for the game to deserve a mention in 1962.

With the shadow of PEDs looming over the most recent discussions, and potentially a number of the upcoming ballots in the future, the rationale behind completely ignoring an otherwise water-tight candidate is infinitely easier to justify and understand.

The career statistics of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were never in doubt when contemplating their respective Cooperstown credentials, however it was the sportsmanship and integrity of both men that was the focus of debate among the BBWAA conclave that ultimately decides who is worthy of enshrinement, although it does seem slightly ironic that it was the modern day descendents of some of the hardest drinking and heaviest toking men ever involved in the game of Baseball that elected to reject both men on account of their implied indiscretions with illicit substances. If the subject of asterisk usage ever crops up again, we should perhaps think about retrospectively scrawling them against the names of the 28 gin-soaked hacks who thought Joe DiMaggio wasn’t worthy of the Hall, or the 20 reefer-smoking scribes who decreed that Ted Williams was unsuitable for admission.

Mariano Rivera respects the game of baseball, and he is aware how much the game respects him in return, and would be comfortable standing side-by-side with history, and not head and shoulders above it.

“I don’t feel myself, the greatest of all time. I’m a team player; I would love to be remembered as a player who was always there for others.”- Mariano Rivera, Sat 9th March 2013