Has any athlete in the history of New York (or the history of anywhere) given fans a more assured feeling than Mariano Rivera? I would suggest: No. When Rivera warms up, the Yankees almost always win. It's that simple. Mickey Mantle ... Joe Namath ... Mark Messier ... Clyde Frazier ... Babe Ruth even ... none of these players, despite their obvious greatness, could grant the peace of mind that comes with the familiar pitching motion of Mariano Rivera. If he's up, the Yankees are probably winning, maybe tied, at the very least in position to tie. And if he enters the game, the Yankees will almost certainly win. I think this helps explain why Rivera is so beloved. Certainly it mostly has to do with his own greatness -- his 572 saves, his 205 ERA+, his 0.71 ERA in the postseason and so on. But it also has to do with his role, his particular circumstances, with being the best closer who ever lived. Yankees fans have come to connect the very sight of Mariano Rivera and victory. No pitcher in the history of baseball, not even Cy Young, has been on the mound at the end of so many victories. And I would argue that no player in the history of American sports, not even Bill Russell, has been more synonymous with that blast of joy that comes when your favorite team wins.But don't worry fans, my oldest is the only known Red Sox fan in her school in NYC, and when asked why, she responds "because they win!" I'm worried about the youngest though, and I might have jinxed it, breaking down and buying him a Laser Show jersey.
Photo links here and here.