JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Mo

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At the suggestion of Josh Berwitz, the husband of my wife’s cousin (and a helluva good guy), I was going to write this Friday’s SI.com column on Mariano Rivera, and how he deserves to be this year’s American League Cy Young Award winner. Then, however, I bent down to pick up this week’s SI from my mail pile and saw this …

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Bravo to Sports Illustrated for finally giving due to, without much debate, the most underrated baseball player of his generation. Mariano Rivera isn’t merely the best closer of the modern era, or even the best closer of all time. No, he now needs to be regarded as one of the, oh, 10 elite pitchers to ever play the game, right up there with Cy Young and Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan and Bruce Berenyi. For nearly 1 1/2 decades, Rivera has used one pitchbruce_berenyi_autograph—his ungodly cut fastball—to frustrated, befuddle and dazzle. Though he still trails Milwaukee’s Trevor Hoffman in the all-time saves chase, he is to to the former Padre what Per Se is to Kennedy Fried Chicken. There is no comparison.

So, dear baseball fan, pay attention. Really pay attention. Mariano Rivera is 40-years old, and probably won’t last that much longer. So watch. Gaze. Pay close attention. Because while much of the pinstriped attention goes to Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia, they are mere mortals compared to a true baseball deity