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Mariano Rivera Basball's Top Pitcher?


In the game of baseball, a few things will always remain true: you can’t learn talent, you won’t win without effort, and good pitching flat out beats good hitting.

As far as the former goes, you can practice and play hard and make a good showing in a baseball game. But when it comes to the latter, no amount of hitting practice will allow you to beat a pitcher in total command of the zone.

Intimidating pitchers like Bob Gibson, Sam McDowell, Pedro Martinez, Goose Gossage, and Sandy Koufax have their place in the record books of baseball, and in the nightmares of batters they’ve faced.

Starting pitchers receive the majority of the limelight. In order for a reliever to share in the same success, he has to be cream of the crop. And if you’re a closing pitcher that wants status in the MLB, then you better be of a different breed entirely.

When it comes to pitchers, closers are the pearls in a vast basket of oysters. Over the last decade, no pearl has been smoother or brighter than the New York Yankees’ all-star closer Mariano Rivera.

Rivera has blazing fast speed with pinpoint control. Either one of these attributes can make for a deadly closer over the course of 1 inning. But to combine the two, you’re looking at the makings of a first-ballot Hall of Famer – you’re looking at Mariano Rivera.

Coming into the game with a slim lead in the 9th inning may be the most intense situation a pitcher will ever face.

This is why you have to be of a special ilk to close a baseball game. Earning a save can net your team World Series victories. Such is proven with Rivera and the Yankees, winners of 4 titles since his arrival in 1995.

Though he always wanted to play baseball, a closing pitcher was the furthest thing from his mind. Rivera started out as a shortstop and played that position until he was 20-years-old.

One faithful day, he had volunteered to pitch for his Panama team. A scout for the Yankees was in attendance, and noticed Rivera throwing the ball smoothly at over 85mph. Rivera started playing minor league ball immediately after, throwing 2 seasons with an ERA under 3.00.

In 1992, Rivera’s minor league career was put on hold due to Tommy John Surgery to fix his nerve-damaged elbow. After rehabilitating, Rivera began to work his way up the ranks, from A to AA to finally AAA.

In 1995, Rivera made his debut with the Yankees.

They first tried him out as a starting pitcher, to varied success. After sending him back down to the minors, Rivera started to throw the ball in the 90-97mph range.

This was a huge change in velocity for Rivera, and the Yankees immediately brought him back. The Yankees had Rivera start 10 games that season, and would inevitably move Rivera to the bullpen before the following season.

The grooming was underway and the Yankees were excited to have the strong-armed 25-year-old coming in for relief.

His first year as a reliever, Rivera acted as a setup man for the Yankees’ closer John Wetteland.

With Rivera pitching to set up John, the Yanks won 29 of 31 games in which they both appeared. With this dynamic duo, the Yankees won their first World Series championship since 1978.

In the 1997 season, Wetteland has moved on from the Yankees, and Rivera took over the duties as closer. He would lose 3 of the first 6 save attempts, but eventually settle down and finish with 43 saves, a 1.88 ERA, and won his first all-star bid.

Still one of the best closers in the game at the present date, Rivera has a lifetime ERA of 2.30, with 466 saves, 66 wins, and 907 strikeouts. He’s been named to 9 all-star teams (1997, 99-02, 04-06, 08), has 4 World Series titles (1996, 98, 99, 2000), 1999 World Series MVP, 2003 AL Championship Series MVP, 2-time DHL Delivery Man of the Year, among many more honors.




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2010

IN STORES MARCH 2010

COOPERSTOWN SERIES 7

  • Tony Gwynn -- San Diego Padres
  • Carl Yastrzemski -- Boston Red Sox
  • Joe Morgan -- Cincinnati Reds
  • Babe Ruth -- New York Yankees
  • Thurman Munson -- New York Yankees

IN STORES MAY 2010

MLB SERIES 26

  • CC Sabathia -- New York Yankees
  • Tim Lincecum -- San Francisco Giants
  • Kevin Youkilis -- Boston Red Sox
  • Evan Longoria -- Tampa Bay Rays
  • Victor Martinez -- Boston Red Sox
  • Prince Fielder -- Milwaukee Brewers
  • Albert Pujols -- St. Louis Cardinals

2009

MLB SERIES 25

  • JOBA CHAMBERLAIN
  • MARK TEIXEIRA
  • JOSH HAMILTON
  • RUSSELL MARTIN
  • JACOBY ELLSBURY
  • JOSE REYES
  • MANNY RAMIREZ

Release Date

June 2009

MLB SERIES 24 (2009 WAVE 1)

  • DEREK JETER 4
  • JIMMY ROLLINS
  • JOHAN SANTANA
  • JOSH BECKETT 2
  • KOSUKE FUKUDOME
  • ALEX RODRIGUEZ 5
  • MIKE LOWELL
  • TORII HUNTER 2

Release Date

May 2009

MLB 2009 TRU EXCLUSIVE ASSORTMENT (SERIES 23)

  • CARLOS ZAMBRANO
  • CHIPPER JONES 2
  • DUSTIN PEDROIA
  • JUSTIN UPTON
  • JORGE POSADA 3
  • MIGUEL CABRERA

Release Date

April 2009

3-INCH MLB BASEBALL SERIES 7

DAVID ORTIZ ALBERT PUJOLS RYAN HOWARD MANNY RAMIREZ DERREK LEE DEREK JETER

Release Date

March 2009

MLB COOPERSTOWN 2009 (SERIES 6)

  • BABE RUTH 3
  • THURMAN MUNSON
  • CARL YASTRZEMSKI
  • TONY GWYNN
  • JOE MORGAN

Release Date

March 2010

KEN GRIFFEY JR.

DEREK JETER COLLECTOR'S EDITION

NEW YORK YANKEES 2-PACK: DEREK JETER & ALEX RODRIGUEZ

JACKIE ROBINSON DAY 3-PACK

2008

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 22

  • DEREK JETER 4
  • CARLOS LEE
  • CURT SCHILLING 3
  • JOSE REYES
  • ICHIRO 3
  • ANDRUW JONES 2

Release Date

June 2008

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 21

  • NOMAR GARCIAPARRA 4
  • DAISUKE MATSUZAKA
  • JORGE POSADA 2
  • MICHAEL YOUNG
  • JOE MAUER
  • ALFONSO SORIANO 3

Release Date

April 2008

COOPERSTOWN SERIES 5

  • DENNIS ECKERSLEY
  • HANK AARON
  • MICKEY MANTLE 2
  • MIKE SCHMIDT
  • RYNE SANDBERG
  • TY COBB

Release Date

February 2008

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 20

  • CHASE UTLEY
  • BARRY ZITO
  • CHIEN-MING WANG
  • KEVIN YOUKILIS
  • GARY SHEFFIELD
  • PAUL KONERKO

Release Date

February 2008

3-INCH MLB BASEBALL SERIES 6

  • MARIANO RIVERA 2
  • JONATHAN PAPELBON
  • DAVID WRIGHT
  • BARRY ZITO
  • ALBERT PUJOLS 3
  • RYAN HOWARD

Release Date

February 2008

BC SPORTS MLB EXCLUSIVE: RYAN HOWARD

BC SPORTS MLB EXCLUSIVE: CHASE UTLEY

BC SPORTS MLB EXCLUSIVE: COLE HAMELS

MARIANO RIVERA COLLECTOR'S EDITION

MLB 2-PACK: MICKEY MANTLE & ROGER MARIS

FANFEST 2008: DON MATTINGLY

FANFEST 2008: DEREK JETER

BOSTON RED SOX 3-PACK 2

NEW YORK METS 3-PACK

2007

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 19

  • ANDY PETTITTE
  • ALBERT PUJOLS 3
  • JOHNNY DAMON 2
  • JONATHAN PAPELBON
  • PRINCE FIELDER
  • PEDRO MARTINEZ 2
  • SCOTT KAZMIR

Release Date

July 2007

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 18

  • BRANDON WEBB
  • DAVID ORTIZ 2
  • DAVID WRIGHT
  • JUSTIN VERLANDER
  • MARIANO RIVERA 2
  • RYAN HOWARD

Release Date

June 2007

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 17

  • JOSH BECKETT 2
  • JIM THOME (White Sox)
  • ROBINSON CANO
  • ERIC CHAVEZ
  • BILLY WAGNER (Mets)
  • TROY GLAUS (Blue Jays)

Release Date

February 2007

COOPERSTOWN SERIES 4

  • JOE DIMAGGIO
  • JOHNNY BENCH
  • TED WILLIAMS
  • ROGER MARIS
  • STEVE CARLTON
  • OZZIE SMITH

Release Date

February 2007

3-INCH MLB BASEBALL SERIES 5

  • ANDRUW JONES 2
  • DEREK JETER 2
  • DERREK LEE
  • IVAN RODRIGUEZ
  • JOSH BECKETT
  • JIM EDMONDS
  • JASON GIAMBI 2
  • MIKE PIAZZA
  • MANNY RAMIREZ 2
  • ORLANDO HUDSON
  • PAT BURRELL
  • PEDRO MARTINEZ

Release Date

February 2007

DAVID ORTIZ COLLECTOR'S EDITION

3-INCH CONOR JACKSON

3-INCH STEPHEN DREW

FANFEST 07: BARRY BONDS

FANFEST 07: REGGIE JACKSON

3-INCH BRANDON WEBB

3-INCH JOSE REYES

BARRY BONDS (756TH HOME RUN COMMEMORATIVE FIGURE)

CHICAGO CUBS 3-PACK

NEW YORK YANKEES 3-PACK 2

2006

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 16

  • CRAIG BIGGIO
  • MANNY RAMIREZ 2
  • SCOTT PODSEDNIK
  • GARY SHEFFIELD
  • VICTOR MARTINEZ
  • JAKE PEAVY

Release Date

July 2006

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 15

  • DERREK LEE
  • ANDRUW JONES 2
  • RICHIE SEXSON (MARINERS)
  • JOHAN SANTANA
  • MIGUEL CABRERA
  • CHAD CORDERO
  • CARLOS DELGADO

Release Date

May 2006

3-INCH MLB BASEBALL SERIES 4

  • ALEX RODRIGUEZ 2
  • CARLOS BELTRAN
  • GARRET ANDERSON
  • DONTRELLE WILLIS
  • DAVID ORTIZ
  • KERRY WOOD
  • MARIANO RIVERA
  • ALBERT PUJOLS 2
  • KEN GRIFFEY JR.
  • JASON VARITEK
  • JOHN SMOLTZ
  • ALFONSO SORIANO
  • JIM THOME
  • BILLY WAGNER
  • HIDEKI MATSUI
  • CURT SCHILLING 2

Release Date

February 2006

COOPERSTOWN SERIES 3

Figures

  • MICKEY MANTLE
  • CARLTON FISK
  • JACKIE ROBINSON
  • DON MATTINGLY
  • ROBERTO CLEMENTE
  • NOLAN RYAN 2

Release Date

February 2006

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 14

  • MARK MULDER (Cardinals)
  • BOBBY ABREU
  • ARAMIS RAMIREZ
  • JEFF KENT
  • JASON VARITEK 2
  • ALEX RODRIGUEZ 4

Release Date

February 2006

COLLECTOR'S EDITION ROGER CLEMENS (ASTROS)

COLLECTOR'S EDITION ROGER CLEMENS (YANKEES)

MLB COMMEMORATIVE 2-PACK: BARRY BONDS & BABE RUTH

FANFEST 2006: ROBERTO CLEMENTE

FANFEST 2006: WILLIE STARGELL

3-INCH DAVID WRIGHT

COOPERSTOWN COLLECTOR'S EDITION MICKEY MANTLE

COOPERSTOWN COLLECTOR'S EDITION BABE RUTH

NEW YORK YANKEES 3-PACK

BOSTON RED SOX 3-PACK

2005

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 13: EXTENDED EDITION

  • RANDY JOHNSON 3
  • PEDRO MARTINEZ 2
  • MOISES ALOU
  • LARRY WALKER 2

Release Date

August 2005

3-INCH MLB BASEBALL SERIES 3

  • ALEX RODRIGUEZ 2
  • ROGER CLEMENS
  • SAMMY SOSA
  • FRANK THOMAS
  • JIM EDMONDS
  • ERIC GAGNE
  • CURT SCHILLING
  • ICHIRO 2
  • DEREK JETER
  • RANDY JOHNSON 2
  • PEDRO MARTINEZ
  • NOMAR GARCIAPARRA 3

Release Date

July 2005

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 12

  • TOM GLAVINE
  • DAVID ORTIZ
  • ADRIAN BELTRE
  • CARLOS BELTRAN
  • NOMAR GARCIAPARRA 2
  • MIKE MUSSINA
  • SCOTT ROLEN 2
  • ERIC GAGNE 2

Release Date

June 2005

COOPERSTOWN 12-INCH

  • 12-Inch CAL RIPKEN JR.
  • 12-Inch BABE RUTH 2

Release Date

May 2005

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 11

  • ALEX RODRIGUEZ 3
  • KEN GRIFFEY JR. 2
  • MARK PRIOR 2
  • ROY HALLADAY
  • BILLY WAGNER
  • JOHNNY DAMON
  • VLADIMIR GUERRERO 2
  • MIKE PIAZZA 2

Release Date

April 2005

COOPERSTOWN SERIES 2

  • CAL RIPKEN JR.
  • MIKE SCHMIDT
  • CATFISH HUNTER
  • BABE RUTH
  • WILLIE MAYS
  • WILLIE STARGELL

Release Date

February 2005

MLB HOMEPLATE DIORAMA: JASON VARITEK AND UMPIRE

3-INCH JOSH BECKETT & MIGUEL CABRERA

3-INCH YOGI BERRA & JORGE POSADA

3-INCH FRANK CATALANOTTO & ORLANDO HUDSON

NATIONAL 2005: NOMAR GARCIAPARRA

3-INCH BILLY WAGNER & PAT BURRELL

FANFEST 2005: IVAN RODRIGUEZ

FANFEST 2005: TROY PERCIVAL

12-INCH DEREK JETER 2

3-INCH DONTRELLE WILLIS & PAUL LO DUCA

MLB 2-PACK: CURT SCHILLING & ALBERT PUJOLS

3-INCH DON MATTINGLY

12-INCH BARRY BONDS 2 (WHITE UNIFORM)

12-INCH BARRY BONDS 2 (GRAY UNIFORM)

BARRY BONDS (700TH HOME RUN COMMEMORATIVE FIGURE)

MLB 2-PACK: BARRY BONDS & WILLIE MAYS

12-INCH NOLAN RYAN (ASTROS)

2004

MLB 12-INCH BASEBALL SERIES 1

  • 12-Inch NOLAN RYAN
  • 12-Inch SAMMY SOSA

Release Date

November 2004

COOPERSTOWN COLLECTION

  • BOB GIBSON
  • BROOKS ROBINSON
  • NOLAN RYAN
  • REGGIE JACKSON
  • TOM SEAVER
  • YOGI BERRA

Release Date

July 2004

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 10

  • DEREK JETER 2
  • ALBERT PUJOLS 2
  • ANDY PETTITTE
  • MARK MULDER
  • CARLOS DELGADO
  • CURT SCHILLING 2
  • GARRET ANDERSON
  • ROGER CLEMENS
  • RAFAEL PALMEIRO

Release Date

June 2004

3-INCH MLB BASEBALL SERIES 2

  • NOMAR GARCIAPARRA/TORII HUNTER
  • PEDRO MARTINEZ/KEN GRIFFEY JR.
  • JORGE POSADA/SCOTT ROLEN
  • CURT SCHILLING/HIDEKI MATSUI
  • MIKE PIAZZA/KERRY WOOD
  • JASON GIAMBI/ALBERT PUJOLS

Release Date

May 2004

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 9

  • ANDRUW JONES
  • DONTRELLE WILLIS
  • MAGGLIO ORDONEZ
  • MARIANO RIVERA
  • NOMAR GARCIAPARRA 2
  • TODD HELTON

Release Date

April 2004

3-INCH MLB BASEBALL

  • DEREK JETER/BARRY ZITO
  • SAMMY SOSA/CHIPPER JONES
  • ALEX RODRIGUEZ/ERIC GAGNE
  • ICHIRO/JIM THOME
  • RANDY JOHNSON 2/ALFONSO SORIANO
  • MARK PRIOR/IVAN RODRIGUEZ

Release Date

March 2004

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 8

  • ALEX RODRIGUEZ 2
  • ALFONSO SORIANO 2
  • HIDEKI MATSUI
  • JEFF BAGWELL
  • JOHN SMOLTZ
  • KEVIN BROWN
  • RICHIE SEXSON

Release Date

February 2004

FANFEST 2004: JEFF BAGWELL

FANFEST 2004: ROGER CLEMENS

MLB 2-PACK: TODD HELTON & SAMMY SOSA

MLB 2-PACK: DEREK JETER & NOMAR GARCIAPARRA

2003

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 7

  • BERNIE WILLIAMS
  • BARRY ZITO
  • MARK PRIOR
  • RANDY JOHNSON 2
  • SCOTT ROLEN
  • TROY GLAUS

Release Date

September 2003

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 6

  • JIM EDMONDS
  • JORGE POSADA
  • JIM THOME
  • KAZUHISU ISHII
  • LUIS GONZALEZ
  • MIKE SWEENEY
  • SAMMY SOSA 2

Release Date

July 2003

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 5

  • ALFONSO SORIANO
  • BARRY BONDS 2
  • DEREK LOWE
  • ERIC GAGNE
  • JASON KENDALL
  • MIGUEL TEJADA
  • PAT BURRELL
  • TORII HUNTER

Release Date

June 2003

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 4

  • ERIC HINSKE
  • ICHIRO 2
  • LANCE BERKMAN
  • LARRY WALKER
  • MATT MORRIS
  • TREVOR HOFFMAN

Release Date

March 2003

WORLD SERIES 2002: BARRY BONDS

FANFEST 2003: FRANK THOMAS

FANFEST 2003: SAMMY SOSA

2002

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 3

  • ADAM DUNN
  • CHIPPER JONES
  • CURT SCHILLING
  • JASON GIAMBI
  • JUAN GONZALEZ
  • ROBERTO ALOMAR
  • ROY OSWALT
  • VLADIMIR GUERRERO

Release Date

August 2002

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 2

  • ALEX RODRIGUEZ
  • BARRY BONDS
  • DEREK JETER
  • GREG MADDUX
  • KEN GRIFFEY JR.
  • KERRY WOOD
  • MANNY RAMIREZ
  • NOMAR GARCIAPARRA
  • ROGER CLEMENS

Release Date

June 2002

MLB BASEBALL SERIES 1

  • ALBERT PUJOLS
  • ICHIRO
  • IVAN RODRIGUEZ
  • MIKE PIAZZA
  • PEDRO MARTINEZ
  • RANDY JOHNSON
  • SHAWN GREEN
  • SAMMY SOSA

Release Date

March 2002

BIG LEAGUE CHALLENGE: JASON GIAMBI

BIG LEAGUE CHALLENGE: NOMAR GARCIAPARRA

Player Profiles

John Riggins

Mariano Rivera






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