Is there anything in spring so sweet to the ears of New York Yankees fans than the bells of an ice cream truck or, even better, Metallica's "Enter Sandman"baring over the Yankee Stadium P.A. system. The two sounds are a prelude to a couple of sweet sights--ice cream and Mariano Rivera's trot out of the bullpen to the pitcher's mound.
Rivera continues to defy time as he marches towards his quest of becoming the all-time saves leader. The "Sandman" is now at an an AL record 566 and closing in on Trevor Hoffman's MLB record of 601 saves.
It's amazing how the 41 year-old defies nature. It seems like he is the only member of the original Core Four who isn't showing signs of aging. The other members, Derek Jeter hit 30 points below his average last season, Jorge Posada is struggling as DH and Andy Pettite is already enjoying retirement. Rivera keeps plugging away--and better than ever.
The righthander and his deadly cutter have gone nine innings in 2011, allowing 4 hits and zero runs. He is 1-0, has seven saves in as many chances and giant goose eggs for an ERA.
Rivera's cutter still baffles hitters. Last night, the powerful Ranger batters could only toss their bats at the darting balls. As predictable as Rivera's repertoire of pitches is, it is pretty amazing that opponents still can't touch him.
Since 1996, Rivera has always answered the call. Mo's body still looks freakishly as young as any twenty-something. In his 15th season in pinstripes last year, Rivera had 33 saves and was selected to the All-Star game.
This season he has reached seven saves in the fastest time ever and Rivera is on pace to equal his age in saves plus some.
Rivera has recently stated that 2012 could possibly be his last year. If that's the case, it's unfathomable to think that a 41 year-old leaving the game could be considered an athlete retiring in his prime. With Rivera, that would be the case.
Springtime brings a lot of perennials like the inevitable Baltimore Oriole's flop and European tourists in sandals and black socks, but there is nothing as dramatic as Mariano Rivera running across the Yankee Stadium outfield as the thumping chords from Metallica fill the air.
Ahhh...springtime in the Bronx.