This writer has never hidden that fact that he is a Fan first and a reporter second. What this blog attempts to do is to give its readers informed observations from a fan's perspective. As such, it is impossible to hide the favorite players who creep into those observations from time to time. These players are interesting, inspiring, surprising and have simply touched the Fan in a core place that resonates deeply. Mariano Rivera is one of those players.
There have been very few moments in Rivera's career that the Fan hasn't watched. For all of those years, there has been constant amazement that the man simply throws one pitch and almost always hits his catcher's target. His command and his effectiveness have been enduring and at times breathtaking.
Every year, Rivera has a stretch where people have thought time finally caught up to him. Two bad games and suddenly, he is washed up and not as scary as before. Each year, he has proven those people wrong. Each year, he does his job better than others in the game. In fact, he has now done it 500 times, becoming only the second closer in history to hit that mark. Rivera will probably never catch the great Trevor Hoffman. But Hoffman has never been as good as Rivera despite the record he will forever hold. Hoffman is a Hall of Famer, but he was never a lock in the post season or at the All Star game or down the stretch in a pennant race.
Rivera has been glorious to watch. He has been an inspiration as a humble man with strong beliefs. He has been a thrill ride from his very first season in the bullpen as setup man for the Yankees' closer of that time. Since he took over as a closer, he has very rarely been beaten and when he has been, it has been big news, which only goes to prove how successful he has been.
How fitting that on the night he records his 500th save, he also records his first career RBI. It's been a blessing and a glory to watch this great pitcher do what he does year in and year out. And he's done it better than anyone else longer than anyone else. He is Mariano Rivera and he has now saved 500 games. Enjoy this while it lasts, because you'll never see anyone this good for this long again.