The baseball community has a fascination with round numbers. Mariano Rivera didn't pass anyone last night when he recorded his 600th save, but for some reason, we find those simple, round numbers to be astonishing.
He was the second man to record 599 saves, and he's still the second man to record 600 saves.
But this isn't about a simple round number. This is an appreciation of how remarkably consistent Mariano Rivera has been since 1996. Last night was just like any other night for Mariano Rivera. He entered the game, recorded three outs, and secured a Yankees victory.
Many will say that relievers are limited in their value. They do not throw 200 innings or more like the top starting pitchers in this league, but I'm not so sure Rivera's value can be properly quantified.
Maybe there's something about the security of having a dominant closer. Or, maybe there's something in the back of the starter's mind, knowing he only needs to go a certain amount of innings, aware that his bullpen can hold the opponent where they are.
Maybe there really is a certain mindset that pitchers need to get through that magical ninth inning, to get those final three outs.
I have no idea. But there is something about Mariano Rivera that baffles hitters, that has made them fear number 42 for 16 years. He's done it all with one pitch and amazing command. Hitters know what's coming, and they still shatter their bats and get weak contact consistently.
I don't know how good the Yankees would have been without him over these last 16 years. After all, he's averaged about 70 innings per season since 1997.
But he locks down games like no other man this sport has ever seen. He's the greatest closer of all time. Maybe there's a certain value that goes along with that.
When you think about it, how do you even assign a value to the greatest? He's like no other.