For the last 15 years the New York Yankees formula for success has been simple, get to the 9th inning with a lead and turn the ball over to Mariano Rivera. The Yankees all time saves leader is the most dominant closer of his era and is virtually unhittable. Until now.
in is past 7 appearances Mariano Rivera has blown more saves than he did all of last year. Hitters are waiting on his signature cutter and blasting it out of the park. There are whispers within the Yankee clubhouse that the Sandman has become mortal and his aura of invincibility has disappeared. If this is true the Yankees are in big trouble.
There is no back up plan if Mariano Rivera fails. The Yankees are all in and aside from CC Sabathia the starters are average at best. It's rare that a closer can have such a significant impact on the fate of a baseball team, but Rivera holds the Yankees future in the palm of his hand.
The major question in New York these days is whether or not Mariano can return to his former self. To be honest it's unfair to compare this season with his past greatness. The body deteriorates, the hitters get smarter, and the law of averages catches up with you. It is a delicate situation because Mariano has been so valuable during the last 7 world series appearances you want to treat him with the utmost respect. His recent results is a cause for concern though.
Being a dominant closer is mostly about attitude. When your skills diminish the overwhelming confidence tends to go at the same time and without that you're bound to make mistakes. Mariano has been around a long time and I have no doubt he's capable of weathering the storm. Sometimes adversity makes a man stronger. Let's hope that's the case with the Sandman.