Today, instead of talking about Brand Marketing, I will talk about one of my other passions, baseball and the lessons that can be learned from one of the greatest players of this or any era.
Mariano Rivera is arguably one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He has been my favorite Yankee player since 1996 in what has been described as the “Derek Jeter” era. He has carried himself with grace, class, dignity, reliability and honesty at a time when these values have been in short supply on the American sports scene. For the past 18 years, the difference between the New York Yankees and the rest of baseball can be described in two words, Mariano Rivera. Rumor has it that Mariano will announce his retirement tomorrow morning at a news conference in Tampa.
Mariano Rivera is arguably the greatest clutch performer in sports history. That’s a bold claim but the numbers back it up. Mo was at his best during the postseason. During the playoffs, Mariano recorded 42 saves and a microscopic 0.70 earned run average. This compares favorably to his 2.21 era in 18 seasons and 608 saves.
The quality that I most admire about Mariano has been his ability to bounce back from some huge disappointments and take his career to even higher levels. In 1997, his first year as a closer, he blew a save in-game 4 of the division series against Cleveland with the Yankees leading the series 2 games to 1. In 2001, he blew a save in Game 7 of the World Series in the bottom of the 9th that was primarily caused by his own throwing error rather than any hard hit balls. These were difficult defeats that could have crushed the spirit of many athletes. He was able to block out the past and focus on the moment. Following the blown save in the 1997 playoffs, Mariano went on to save 41 postseason and 560 regular season games. From 2002 to through 2012, Mo saved 393 regular season and 18 postseason games. These numbers are a great example of learning from a mistake and taking your performance to a higher level.
I have great memories of watching Mariano Rivera pitch at old and new Yankee Stadium. I had the opportunity to watch Mo save the final game of the World Series in 1999 and 2009. I believe his greatest moment as a Yankees was the three shutout innings that he pitched in Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series. For three innings, he stopped the Red Sox powerful lineup, until Aaron Boone hit his memorable walk off home run. This was the greatest baseball game that I ever saw live.
Yankees fans have been fortunate and somewhat spoiled to watch Mariano Rivera for all these years. He will be missed.
Is Mariano Rivera the greatest clutch performer in baseball history?