The environment in Cooperstown couldn’t be better. A small town welcoming the best that baseball has to offer year after year.
Hall Of Fame weekend this year is going to bring out many feelings of nostalgia for anyone who watched the 2019 incoming class play and what they brought to the diamond.
This year’s class featured two Yankee killers in longtime Mariners DH Edgar Martinez and the late Roy Halladay.
You never wanted to see Martinez up at the plate with the game on the line. If you think I’m wrong, go rewatch Game 5 of the 1995 Division Series.
Halladay‘s no-hitter in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS is the only no-hitter in a postseason game since Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956.
You can understand why Derek Jeter said Halladay was the toughest pitcher he ever faced in the big leagues.
On the flip side, the Class Of 2019 also had a strong Yankees feel to it with the induction of Moose and Sandman.
Mike Mussina’s knuckle curve was a force in the steroid era and American League East for two decades with the Baltimore Orioles and the Yankees.
I’ll never forget Mussina’s heroic relief appearance in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS and his final season, when he picked up his 20th win for the first time in his big-league career at none other than Fenway Park.
Mussina’s career was tremendous, but Mariano Rivera’s career was nothing short of legendary.
Rivera’s induction into Cooperstown has been long awaited, and he is the first-ever unanimous selection to the Hall Of Fame.
It was time for Rivera to take his place among baseball royalty.
So what’s the biggest compliment I can give Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer of all time? There will never be a player in my lifetime who can put me more at ease than Mo.
When you heard “Enter Sandman” blaring in Yankee Stadium, it gave you the ultimate peace of mind as a fan.
Mariano Rivera was a given, his presence meant the game was over. Case closed.
The numbers speak for themselves. Of course Rivera is the all-time saves leader, but in October his numbers are even more eye-opening.
Rivera in 141 innings posted a postseason ERA of 0.70, a number that simply isn’t of this universe.
Was Rivera perfect? Of course not.
He had three prominent failures in the postseason that are vividly etched in your memory.
Sandy Alomar’s home run in ‘97, Luis Gonzalez’s bloop hit in 2001 and, of course, Game 4 against the Boston Red Sox in 2004.
Any one of those moments would’ve broken so many different players. Not Mariano Rivera.
Much like the Patriots with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the fact that you can remember certain moments where they fail to dominate the sport speaks to their overall level of greatness because it was so shocking to see.
It was a given to find Brady and Bill hosting and winning playoff games in January, much like it was a given to see Rivera on the mound closing games in October.
The Yankees have had very good closers since Mariano Rivera retired in 2013 in David Robertson, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.
All three have been all-stars, but none will give you the same comfort Rivera provided for years in Yankee pinstripes.
There will never be another Mariano Rivera.
His excellence, dignity and grace were a pleasure to watch in the Bronx for over two decades.
Long live the Sandman.
You can listen to me Friday to Monday overnight from 2 to 6 a.m. on WFAN Sports Radio 660/1019 FM. You can also watch me on “The Thread” Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday at 5 p.m., as well as on Geico Sportsnight Friday and Saturday at 11 p.m. on SNY.