The Mariano Rivera Factor: Why the Yankees Will Stay Afloat

  • Dave Ragazzo
Mariano Rivera is reeping the benefits of being the most beloved player in the entire league; and that will help him stay effective for the remainder of his final season.  PHOTO COURTESY:  JEFF ZELEVANSKY/GETTY IMAGES

Mariano Rivera is reeping the benefits of being the most beloved player in the entire league; and that will help him stay effective for the remainder of his final season. PHOTO COURTESY: JEFF ZELEVANSKY/GETTY IMAGES

As a Mets fan, it brings me no greater pleasure to see the Yankees putting out a AAA lineup day in and day out.  How can they expect to win with David Adams and Luis Cruz providing no power at third base and newcomer Brent Lillibridge patrolling the outfield?  These are the type of guys who have helped the Mets finish with losing records each of the last four seasons.

But the Yankees are still very much alive in the playoff race despite having a combined $99 million on the disabled list.  As of July 24, they were only 3.5 games out of a playoff spot and to go along with the subpar batting order, their pitching has been pedestrian to say the least.

Despite all the changes in the Bronx, one thing has stayed true:  When “Enter Sandman” comes on, it is almost a guarantee that the Yankees are winning the game.

As Mariano Rivera makes his final rounds at many of the leagues stadiums, it’s becoming more obvious that he is one of the most loved guys in all of baseball.  Whether he is getting a fire extinguisher from his cross-town rival or a rocking chair composed of broken bats from Minnesota, every organization and fan base is showing him love.  He is currently the only guy in all of sports that get the entire stadium to root for him whenever he plays, no matter where he is.

Could it be that everyone just loves Metallica and they’re just cheering for Rivera’s entrance?  Possible, but highly doubtful.

It is clear that this nationwide appreciation for Mo is because of the illustrious career that he has had.  With only supporters during his outings, it is going to help him stay sharp through the dog days of summer.  Currently, Rivera has converted 32 of 34 saves and has pitched like a 25 year old kid instead of a 43 year old man.  And as the Yankees try to remain relevant with all of their struggles, an effective Rivera that can shut the door on any game can keep the Yankees alive until their big guns get healthy.

It gives the greatest closer of all time an edge that everyone knows he will take full advantage of.  Imagine how a guy like Ike Davis would do if everyone in the stadium was rooting for him to break the Mendoza line?  Right now, he can’t even get Mets fans to cheer for him on a regular basis.

Rivera has saved 60 percent of the Yankees wins this year; which means that if the Yankees want to be a contender, he’s going to have to save at least 50 games this year.  This means there will be plenty of walks out to the mound from the bullpen.  If he doesn’t have a single person rooting against him for the rest of the year, how is he ever going to blow another save?  He is getting the love from the fans because he has already announced his retirement, but he could easily justify coming back for another year if he saves that many games.

What would the fans do then?  Would they go through another full year of cheering a man who is responsible for their team losing?  Maybe if they’re Metallica fans they will.

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