If you take my formula that you don’t really start following a baseball team until you are 7 or 8 years old, the potential end of Mariano Rivera’s remarkable 18 year career will be staggering.
That means if you are a Yankee fan 25 years old or younger, you have no memory of a Yankee team without either Wetteland or Rivera as the closer.
Yankee fans 23 years old or younger realistically don’t remember a Yankee closer other than Rivera.
A Yankee fan could be born, go through elementary school, Junior High, High School, college and work for a year and all the while never experienced the like of Steve Howe, Steve Farr or Lee Guetterman blowing ballgames.
It will be culture shock.
Every other team with the exception of the Padres had great turnover in the closer department.
And even Trevor Hoffman, with all of his saves and his wonderful career, came up small time and time again in big games.
Rivera it was automatic.
It wasn’t fair.
He was in the game and it was over.
When he lost a game it was shocking.
With other good closers, it wasn’t shocking. Even some great ones.
Lee Smith, John Franco, Jeff Reardon, Tom Henke, Todd Jones, Francisco Rodriguez, etc etc etc. All good at their jobs. But if they blew a game, you wouldn’t have gasped.
When Rivera had a rare meltdown, it seemed like time had stopped.
Two of the greatest baseball moments of the last 20 years have been the final game of the 2001 World Series and the Red Sox comeback in 2004. Both times they were startling because Rivera had failed.
And THAT is going to be what young Yankee fans won’t understand.
The 9th inning will more likely than not be closed out by David Robertson. But there will be times he will stumble. And the sense of dread from the other team won’t be there. Robertson is a good pitcher, but nobody FEARS him.
There’s no sense that his failure would be shocking.
And that is what young Yankee fans have never experienced and older Yankee fans probably have forgotten: failure being a real possibility in the 9th.