Yes it is true. It will be quite strange not seeing Mariano Rivera close games for the Yankees in 2012. His time as the New York relief ace has spanned three Presidents, four Summer Olympics and countless technological innovations. So instead of reflecting back on his career like so many have today, let us concentrate on the present and what this means for the Bronx Bombers this season.
While his injury is severe, the impact on the Yankees, at least in the regular season will not be as great as people think. Plenty of teams have lost their closers before the season has started or early on and still enjoyed a taste of the playoffs. There were the 2010 Minnesota Twins who did not have Joe Nathan at all yet still won 94 games and the AL Central title. Last year’s Cardinals watched Ryan Franklin, who notched 66 saves between 2009 and 2010, lose his effectiveness in April. All they did was win the World Series. This season, the Rays have not had Kyle Farnsworth this season yet that has not prevented them from having a fast start. No, the Yankees will miss Rivera if they make the postseason. The security of knowing a guy has done it for 15 years, through every playoff series is gone. No longer will Yankee fans feel safe after 7 or 8 innings. It doesn’t matter if David Robertson and Rafael Soriano give up 0 runs each the rest of the year, neither of them are the great Rivera.
Losing Rivera is not the biggest problem for the Yankees. Manager Joe Girardi continuing to bat Robinson Cano behind Mark Teixeria and Alex Rodriguez will become the biggest headache for New York fans. Cano is clearly the best hitter on the team; he needs to bat third every single game. Thursday’s game against the Royals epitomized this. In the top of the 9th with the Yanks down a run, they had runners on first and second with no one out. Texeria proceeds to ground into a double play and Rodriguez taps out to end the game. Cano was left standing in the on deck circle. Unacceptable.
I am not going to close the curtain on Mariano Rivera’s career yet. That is for another time and place. Now is not the time to do it. Wait until Mo decides its time. Of all the players in sports, shouldn’t he be the one to decide when it’s over?
Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at www.venomstrikes.com