Even the great one’s fail every so often.
On November 4, 2001 the Arizona Diamondbacks and their fans witnessed history in more ways than one defeating the greatest closer in Major League Baseball and claiming their first World Series Championship when Luis Gonzalez’s blooper to center plated the winning run.
“When you think of the absolute, most revered and respected athlete of the last 30, 40 years it’s hard to come up with anybody above him.”
Although Arizona got the best of him that cold, rainy night in Phoenix you could argue no player in any sport has been more dominant at their position than Mariano Rivera who will likely end his 19-year MLB career in the coming weeks, all with the New York Yankees.
“What an amazing career,” ESPN baseball insider Pedro Gomez told Pros2Preps.com Tuesday in his weekly segment. “When you think of the absolute, most revered and respected athlete of the last 30, 40 years it’s hard to come up with anybody above him.”
Gomez, who will be covering what will likely be Rivera’s final home game Sunday at Yankee Stadium, believes he is one of the few athletes in today’s society who’s respected on every level both on the field and off.
It’s the 13-time All-Star and 5-time World Series champion’s mental mindset which has allowed him to preserve through those occasional rough nights like at then Bank One Ballpark nearly twelve years ago and put together one of the most complete two decades of baseball ever.
“He had just blown one of those really bad, bad saves…this is up in Seattle a few years ago,” Gomez recalls. “He walks out of the stadium after blowing a bad, bad save and he’s having an ice cream cone. Talking with some family and friends and he’s smiling and laughing about it. He just had a way of dealing with [it].”
Gomez says the mental is just as, if not more, important than the physical part of being a closer. Case in point former Diamondbacks closer Gregg Olson who could never flush out the demons after some lean years in Arizona.
“I honestly believe the biggest reason Mariano Rivera has been able to do what he’s done is because he’s had such great perspective of it.”