Mariano Rivera's Comeback with the Yankees: Do They Need to Add Age?
It's not an easy choice—to say the least—but like the monetary-sands of an hourglass...so goes the offseason wonderment for the Bronx suits.
According to a story from the AP, Rivera—who turns 43 next month—has informed the Yankees he intends to pitch for them in 2013. Without question, the news deserves applause for guts and effort; however, the newfound desire by Rivera might not be in the best interest for the club.
After all, shouldn't the Yankees be looking to shed some age?
They were the oldest team in the AL East (33), beating out the Red Sox, Jays and Rays by more than three years on the average; in fact, they were the oldest team in the entire American League in 2012.
While age isn't a definite and deciding factor for success, the physical wear of a looming season certainly can hinder a player's performance, even more so if they are coming off an injury—Let's face it, time is not on the side of an aging athlete, regardless of who they are or what they have accomplished.
But then again, this is Mariano Rivera. The sure-thing Hall-of-Famer posted a 1.91 ERA with 44 saves in 2011, and he started 2012 solid before suffering the freakish-accident that blew out his knee. He was still a top closer at the ages of 40 and 41, so perhaps closing games—understanding that his knee won't strain under throwing every one-or-two-games will work.
Perhaps the better question is this: Is an aging Rivera, hampered by a knee—a physical attribute that helps drive his fastball to the plate—a better option than anything else on the team or on the market?
During times of change, much like the AL East, adapting is the new idea to stay atop a more difficult group of teams. Both Alex Rodriquez and Derek Jeter have father-time chasing them—Rodriguez looks to have lost the race, already—and at some point that will need to be addressed. Adding another worrisome aspect to the team, like Rivera, with the hope of using him at full-strength may be too much hope sake.
However, he will get his chance. Again, it's Mariano Rivera, not some 50-year-old hack, squeezing every last piece of media attention on his way to a shamed-legacy. If he can still manage a cutter at 90 mph, then Rivera deserves his shot at a final comeback.
Will it work? That's the question only the grind of the 2013 season can answer.
Unfortunately, the mistake often made in the sports realm is replacing the business-side of things with the movie-scripted desires. Sure, everyone wants to see the heroes have their final trot around the stadium, a Billy Chapel (For Love of the Game) ending, and gathering relics at every stop.
But usually it turns out to be a version of Reality Bites—starring people like Jamie Moyer.