Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Grand Reliever

I can't say that I honestly remember when Mariano Rivera made his Major League debut as a New York Yankees starter in 1995. But I most certainly remember him as a surprisingly effective reliever late in the season and in the playoffs. Perhaps if Buck Showalter had stuck with him longer in Game 5 of the ALDS, Ken Griffey Jr. would never have had the chance to slide home with the winning run and Don Mattingly's career would not have ended in such dramatic fashion.

None of that matters, of course, but what does matter is that 16 years later Rivera appeared yesterday in his 1,000th career game. In doing so he became the first pitcher to make all 1,000 appearances with the same team. (15 other pitches have accomplished the feat).

Rivera was modest as usual. When queried by YES' Kim Jones as to the achievement, Rivera replied, "It means I'm old". What it means to Yankees fans is just one more remarkable accomplishment in a remarkable career.

I'm shocked at how little mention there was as Rivera approached the mark. Though he probably wouldn't care, the Yankees should honor the game's top reliever with a pre-game ceremony on their next homestand.

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