Considering how well Mariano Rivera has pitched this season, it shouldn't surprise anyone that someone's having second thoughts about his impending retirement.
Nope, not Rivera. He still sounds like a guy who's on his way out. It's his manager who's not ready to say goodbye:
"I don't see any reason why he couldn't do it next year, I don't," Girardi said. "He's made it pretty clear that he doesn't want to [return], but I always say, you know, January rolls around and sometimes you have a different feel about what you want to do."
Rivera, 43, announced during spring training that his 19th season with the Yankees would be his last.
"I believe he's going to retire," Girardi said. "But as I've said, sometimes when you're a player in the midst of a season and you're grinding it out, your mind is one thing, but when you get away for a couple of months and your body feels pretty good, your mind is another thing."
Good luck, Joe. I hope your entreaties carry the day.
But I'll be shocked if they do.
I believe Girardi's exactly right: There's no obvious reason why Rivera couldn't pitch brilliantly again next year, too. Without any context, we would not expect a 44-year-old relief pitcher to thrive against the best hitters on Earth. But without any context, we would not expect a 43-year-old relief pitcher save 40 games with a 2.11 ERA and five times more strikeouts than walks. But that's what Mariano Rivera is doing this season.
Would relying on a 44-year-old closer be risky? Sure. But just slightly more risky than relying on a 43-year-old closer, and that's worked out pretty well. I suspect Girardi wants Rivera back for two reasons. One, he likes having a great pitcher in his bullpen; fortunately for Girardi, he's got David Robertson next season. And two, Girardi, a baseball lifer, will simply miss seeing baseball royalty every day in the clubhouse, and often on the mound.
I won't miss Rivera's saves. I will miss his himness, and so I selfishly hope the missing-himness is delayed for as long as possible.
I think we've got another month, though. Maybe a bit longer if the Yankees actually sneak into the playoffs. But that's it. I don't imagine that quitting something you're good at is easy. Especially when it pays exceptionally well. I've found that something difficult becomes easier when I tell someone I'm going to do it. I suspect that Rivera announced his retirement for a number of reasons, and that one of them was that he thought he might be tempted to come back in 2014. But by announcing his retirement last spring, and then going through a carefully choreographed farewell tour, he's made it very difficult for himself to reverse course.
Might he come back? Sure, anything's possible. But Mariano Rivera strikes me as a man of his word. I do hope he breaks his word, this time. But one of the reasons we love him is because he probably will not.
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