Mariano Rivera Takes Home Some More Hardware

Closer takes home Sporting News honors

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The last two months of 2009 have been very, very good to the Yankees. Winning the World Series would have been sweet enough, but players from the team keep picking up other honors from the guys who cover them in the media. Derek Jeter took home Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year award a couple of weeks ago, and Mariano Rivera was named Pro Athlete of the Year by the Sporting News.

    Somewhere the editors of Bon Appetit are trying to find a way to give an award to CC Sabathia.

    All of these honors won't do much to dissuade the legions of sports fans who believe that the national media is in the tank for the Yankees. Rivera's season was excellent, but it's still an odd choice. For one thing, it's impossible to come up with an explanation of how any athlete other than Tiger Woods comes up on top when you're tabulating impact on 2009. For another, Rivera's been just as good as he was in 2009 for most of his career without winning the award, and he wasn't deemed good enough to win the magazine's awards for baseball player or pitcher of the year.

    We're not going to complain too loudly, though. There aren't enough trophies, plaques or crystal bowls in the world to adequately express how good Rivera has been during his career with the Yankees. In fact, it's hard to think of anyone who has been as good at their job over the last 14 years. Perhaps the most incredible thing about his run is how he's done it all with one pitch that everyone knows is coming and how little his success has gone to his head. Here's what he told the Sporting News when they asked about him losing his cutter one day: 

    "I didn't learn it by somebody teaching me. It came by the Lord. So it's not within myself to lose it or keep it. It will be the Lord to decide when to take it away."

    Okay, so perhaps referring to one's self as a servant of the Lord indicates that something's gone to his head, but there don't seem to be many other explanations for the man's career.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.