Sporting News Pro Athlete of 2009: Mariano Rivera
- Rivera hits foul ball v Mets, 6/28/09, ap photo
"On a team full of superstars, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera went about his usual way in 2009, dominating opponents and helping New York claim its 27th World Series.
- Because of his performance—44 saves, 1.76 ERA and five more postseason saves—Rivera is Sporting News' Pro Athlete of the Year.
- "It felt long—especially the year 2008 when we didn't even make the playoffs. That was horrible," Rivera told Sporting News' Steve Greenberg in a one-on-one interview at his Rye, N.Y., home.
- On being able to peak at the most important time of year, even at his age: In the playoffs, you're talking about something that not many players have the opportunity to be in -- and I'm talking about great players, not just average players. And I've been blessed to be able to be in the playoffs for many years and do the job in all those years. I think that says it alone -- it's the playoffs. You don't want to miss that; you want to be in the middle of it. And when you realize that's your makeup, your ability, your mind, your mentality, you just want to keep going and going and going and never stop.
- On pitching for another team: "With all the respect that all the organizations deserve, it would be hard for me to consider playing for another team. If the opportunities are there, then you don't know. But I believe the Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to play for one team."
- On pursuing the all-time saves record: "You know what? I'm OK with whatever happens. I'm not a guy who goes looking for numbers or chasing records."
Pro: Mariano Rivera. I think Rivera is kind of an inspired choice for Pro AOY (it's certainly more satisfying than Derek Jeter).
- I could make a strong case for Larry Fitzgerald, Drew Brees or Kobe ahead of Rivera, but it's solid."...12/18/09