Rivera Remains Yankees’ Most Important Player

Mariano Rivera was already widely considered the best closer in baseball history. But with each postseason save, the path to becoming the greatest there ever was becomes that much more difficult.

Rivera shut the door on another New York Yankees’ championship Wednesday night, going more than one inning once again.

Throughout this postseason, whenever Rivera comes in to close out the victory, I keep thinking how tough it’s going to be for the Yankees to replace him.

Many relievers try and most fail to become successful closers in baseball’s most pressure-packed job. Doing that job in the media madhouse that is New York is that much tougher.

Rivera, who will be 40 later this month, makes it look easy, pumping inside cut fastball after inside cut fastball to opposing hitters. Contact is rare, and when it’s made, the ball is usually pulled foul.

There’s not many guys in baseball I can think of that you could pluck from their jobs right now and place in that spot with full confidence the job will get done.

And for a few other thoughts on the World Series:

  • I thought Yankees manager Joe Girardi‘s decision to go to a three-man rotation was a smart move. I can’t believe no team has gone through an entire postseason with a three-man rotation since the 1991 Minnesota Twins, and it worked pretty well for them.
  • Having made that point, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel should have done the same. He needed to do the same. Game 4 was the pivotal game of this series. The Yankees send CC Sabathia to the mound on short rest. The Phillies, rather than countering with their ace Cliff Lee, send Joe Blanton. Blanton pitches OK, allowing four runs in six innings. The suspect Phillies bullpen – notably Brad Lidge – blows it. But you have to give Lee a chance to outduel Sabathia.
  • The Yankees are built to last. Rivera, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui are getting older. Derek Jeter is no spring chicken. But with Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Sabathia and others, they have a lot of star players still in their prime.
  • Interesting comment by Posada after the game, saying Sabathia and A.J. Burnett are the reason the Yankees are where they are. As was well publicized, the Yankees dished out big bucks to bring both starters to New York prior to this season.
  • I was only a game off with my World Series prediction. I thought there was a lot of question marks with the Phillies pitching staff, but they showed why they were the defending champs.