The Sandman entered Monday and saved his 602nd game. New York Yankees closer, Mariano Rivera, passed Trevor Hoffman for most career saves after finishing off the top of the ninth inning in a 6-4 Yankees win. The save was Rivera's 43rd save of the season. Also, Mariano has not blown a save in his last 16 appearances. Mo will go down in the books not only as one of the best Yankees pitchers of all time, but one of the greatest pitchers in MLB history.

Rivera's journey started 16 years ago, when he made his debut May 23rd, 1995. He appeared in 19 games in 1995, but eventually took over the starting job as the New York Yankees closer in 1997. In his first year as the starting closer, Mo saved 43 games for the Yanks and struck out 68 batters.

Throughout his career Mariano has finished in the top three of the Cy Young Award voting four times. Also Rivera has recorded 40+ saves in eight MLB seasons, including a career high 53 in 2004. Since taking over the starting closer role for the Yankees, Rivera has only had less than 30 saves in a season once, and that is because he only appeared in 45 games.

Mariano, as well as Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada have been Yankees throughout their whole careers. All of them have won five World Series rings together and have been top players in the MLB over the past decade and a half.

Rivera is the best closer of all-time but it's not just because of his 602 regular season saves. Rivera is also the greatest postseason closer, or even pitcher of all time. Mariano is the all-time postseason saves leader with 42 saves, a record that is not even within 20 saves of second place. In 15 years of postseason baseball, Mariano has a lethal ERA of just .71 in over 139 innings pitched.

What has made Mariano such a respected player in the game, is also his personality. While many closers love to brag and boast after recording saves and strikeouts, Rivera has always respected his opponents and the game. Rivera is also one of the most humble New York Yankees ever; while Jeter may be the face of the franchise, Mariano has been just as important to the Yankees in a quieter way. Rivera is also one of the few Yankees that is respected throughout the league, even by the Yankees' rivals, the Boston Red Sox.

Rivera has appeared in 12 All-Star games, won the ALCS MVP Award in 2003, and won the World Series MVP Award in 1999, after the Yankees won the World Series. He also has won the Relief Pitcher of the Year Award five times.

Mariano Rivera will go down in the record books as the best closer in the game of baseball. His 602 saves (and counting) are an MLB record, and are not close to being broken. Rivera has been one of the greatest players to ever play the game, and has had a positive impact on and off the field. Congrats Mariano, you deserve it.


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