Legendary closer Mariano Rivera announced prior to this season that the year would be his last as a New York Yankee. At the age of 43 and coming off of surgery to repair a torn ACL, perhaps not too much was expected, although fans understood they were watching the swan song of one of the greatest.
But then a funny thing happened. Rivera compiled a 1.61 ERA over 31 games as of writing. He successfully closed 26 games of the 27 opportunities afforded him.
The magic was still there — and so were the calls to make a very special, final, All-Star game appearance.
Fans have been calling to see Rivera start the Game, not finish. However, after compiling a Major League-record 634 saves during the regular season and 42 during the postseason, the future first ballot Hall of Famer would rather continue to do what he does best.
Rivera would rather be afforded the opportunity to earn a fifth-career All-Star Game save, instead of making his first-career ASG start.
“I’ve been told about it, but I don’t like it,” Rivera told ESPN NewYork.com prior to Sunday’s Old Timers’ Day festivities at Yankee Stadium. “And the reason why I say that is it’s not what I do. What I do is close the games, I don’t start the games. It’s a privilege and honor, but I’m not contemplating it.”
Interestingly, after all the saves, World Series titles, and everything else, Rivera admits to fearing a poor outing should he be given the start.
“I think the right thing is to do it the way it (normally) is,” Rivera said. “I don’t want to start the game and give up 10 runs in the first inning. I’d rather pitch in the ninth than the first.”
After 18 years of pitching in the ninth, rather than the first, we as fans should be excited to see one more All-Star Game featuring exactly that.