Mariano Rivera, Career Saves, and another YANKEES SUCK article from The New York Times
Now that Mariano Rivera has become the career saves leader, surpassing Trevor Hoffman's 601 last week, The New York Times' Dave Anderson, in a special YANKEES SUCK article entitled “Mr. Young, Mr. Ryan, Mr. Rivera Will Be Joining You,” sees something historic in the stat. He writes:
His record 603 regular-season saves deserve a monument alongside those honoring Cy Young’s 511 victories and Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 strikeouts and 7 no-hitters.
Why does Anderson feel this way? You have to dig to find it. Cy Young's victory total is far ahead of the no. 2 man, Walter Johnson, who won 417, while Nolan Ryan's strikeout total is far ahead of the no. 2 man, Randy Johnson, by 839 Ks. Each dominated his stat. They had no rival. Just like Rivera.
But wait. Isn't Mo only 2 saves ahead of Trevor Hoffman? That's hardly “far ahead.” Both relievers, to be sure, are far ahead of the no. 3 man, the former saves leader Lee Smith, who retired with 478. But Rivera isn't out there by himself. Hoffman is with him.
Anderson solves this with a bit of subterfuge:
... even if the 41-year-old Rivera were to retire soon, his postseason numbers would separate him from any and all bullpen challengers.
It's a stupid article. The objective greatness of Mariano Rivera isn't in the career saves stat; it's in his career ERA, for which his only rivals are dead-ball pitchers from 100 years ago, and in his post-season record, which is unprecedented.
Anderson actually downgrades the man he's trying to elevate. Rivera isn't honored because he has the career saves record. The career saves record is honored because it now belongs to Mariano Rivera.