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Torn ACL. Torn meniscus.
This can’t be the way Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer of all time and a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, rides off into the sunset; with a season-ending injury in what was most likely to be his final year in baseball.
I had the MLB Network on in the background yesterday when they cut to Rivera writhing in pain on the warning track at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City. As manager Joe Girardi and company carried Rivera like a wounded warrior to a waiting golf cart, I , along with the rest of Yankees Universe, had the same thought: This can’t be good. And it’s not. Torn ACL. Torn meniscus.
As the video from the YES Network above shows, Mo was shagging fly balls in the outfield during batting practice when the injury occurred. I know there are some people, sports writers included, who are questioning why he was doing this. Well, Rivera has done this fielding routine his whole career. He’s good at it. In fact, Rivera is not just a great pitcher, but he is also a great athlete. It was just one of those freakish things. He could have suffered the same injury fielding a ball to first base. So let’s stop with the blame game.
Rivera was almost in tears during his post-game press conference. He doesn’t know if he’ll be back on the mound ever again to close out a game. That’s a prospect that almost has me in tears, too. Of course, there is one man in the Yankees clubhouse who would not rule out a return for Rivera. Derek Jeter said, “I’m no doctor, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back this year.”
For now, David Robertson will likely step into number 42’s role. Robertson has earned it. He’s allowed just one run in his last 37.2 innings pitched. He’s been talked about as the heir apparent, but no one knew his coronation would come so soon. Torn ACL. Torn meniscus.
Of course, you don’t replace Rivera. Not the man who owns a postseason record of 8-1, 42 saves and an 0.70 ERA in 141 innings pitched. Just think about those numbers for a moment. He achieved that kind of success against the best competition in pressure cooker situations.
Torn ACL. Torn meniscus. I just can’t get those words out of my head. That along with the thought I may never get to see Rivera close out another game again. It’s not supposed to end this way, right?