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A Moving Closeout for Mariano Rivera

Legendary New York Yankees pitcher, Mariano Rivera Photo Credit: Legendary New York Yankees pitcher, Mariano Rivera

On September 26th, 2013, the New York Yankees hosted the Tampa Bay Rays in front of a sellout crowd of 48,675. With the Yankees playoffs fate sealed, the sellout crowd's interest focused on other reasons. This was Yankees closer Mariano Rivera's final game and his departure from the game as he retired his last batter featured one of the most touching and heartfelt signature moments for Major League Baseball as well as the Yankees organization.

The Rays were ahead four to the Yankees nil in the top of the ninth inning. On a 1-0 count with 1 out in the inning, Rivera threw a pitch to Rays SS Yunel Escobar, popping him out recording the final out of his career. It was time for Rivera to exit this inning, the mound, the Yankees, and his career as a Major League Baseball player. Usually, Yankees manager Joe Girardi makes his call to the bullpen and walking out to the mound to retrieve his pitcher, but on this night, acknowledging the moment, Girardi sent two of the men who began their careers alongside Rivera in pitcher Andy Pettitte and shortstop Derek Jeter. These two faces were all too familiar for Rivera, and when they finally reached the mound, as Jesus once did, Rivera wept as he was embraced by both Pettitte and Jeter. Rivera left the mound to a standing ovation which he ultimately deserves from the Yankees faithful, as well as, the entire baseball community for the excellence he exhibited throughout the duration of his career.

Another Yankees Dynasty Ends

The MLB 2013 regular season is over, and with its closing introduces the MLB 2013 postseason, a postseason the Yankees aren't apart of for the second time in 19 years, which raises numerous questions beginning with Why? Why didn't the Yankees make the postseason this year? I think I have the answer and it's pretty simple actually so here it is: The Dynasty is over. Yes I just said that. "The Sandman's" exit symbolizes what once was and used to be the base of the ingredients: Their core, which has been unable to solve the enigma that is father time which will and always be undefeated. Jeter is 39 years of age, Pettitte announced his retirement on September 20th, 2013, Yankees catcher Jorge Posada recently retired last year, and Rivera has just completed his Goodbye tour this year, leaving Jeter as the lone member remaining of this dominant group. This four also known as "The Core Four" all made their major league debuts during the summer of 1995 and since that summer, have produced 34 All-Star appearances, 5 world series championships, 2 World Series MVP awards and the MLB record for career saves. Four players can never make up for what the significance and strength lies within an entire team but if there were ever a group of four players to lead and help further establish the prestigious brand that is the Yankees organization, it what this group. This four contributed once and a lifetime experiences and are probably responsible for the Yankee fitted being universally recognized.

Back to reality. The Yankees lineup that management envisioned struggled to stay on the field battling injuries which resulted in midseason utility player rentals and you guessed it, poor play. With the initial breaking of his left ankle in game 1 of the AL Championship series against the Detroit Tigers last postseason, Jeter experienced those longing effects into the 2013 season acting as a hangover as he found himself on the DL countless times this season due to a tight right quadricep, a strained right calf and an injury to his left ankle allowing him to generate only 17 games this season accumulating a .190 average, a homer and seven RBI's.

Former All-Star 1st basemen Mark Texeira slightly tore the tendon sheath in his right wrist while playing for team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Texeira made his regular season debut late in May only to provoke the same injury in June in which he elected to remove himself from the show deciding to have surgery in July, ending his season with a .151 average, three home runs and 12 RBI's in 15 games.

Outfielder Curtis Granderson, "The Grandy Man", adds to the list of fallen Yankees aching with an injury from a Spring Training game before the 2013 season began by breaking his right forearm in a hit-by-pitch, a fate he suffered once more breaking his left pinkie in another hit by pitch, two injuries which cost him to miss most of the season but playing more games than the previously mentioned individuals, making appearances in 61 games, ending the season with a .229 average, seven home runs and 15 RBI's.

The Yankees also witnessed a number of departures to their ball club due to injuries and free agency including first basemen Kevin Youkilis, SS Eduardo Nunez, Catcher Francisco Cervelli, and others including most notably Raul Ibanez, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Eric Chavez. It's safe to say that the Yankees are no longer the "Bronx Bombers", but what will the team that leads MLB in championships won do moving forward into the future. Jeter's days are numbered and a number of players that have contributed to the Yankees success in previous years have reached free agency which include pitchers Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda, Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain. Second basemen Robinson Cano, a player who was once expected to receive the torch from the most recent prominent Yankees to lead the next generation of a possible Yankee resurgence, is awaiting free agency to test the market, looking for a contract that will induce a sum of money that our economy needs more than he.

What was special about the dynasty that the Yankees enjoyed for the duration of almost two decades was the fact that they won from within. The "Core Four" were all products of the Yankees farm system, talents that were so superior that each version of their previous championship runs were all built around those four stars. The Yankees' solid farm system still prevails, boasting catcher Gary Sanchez, pitcher Manny Banuelos and Outfielders Mason Williams and Tyler Austin.

However, what happens to the Yankees from this day forward lies in the hands of General Manager and Senior Vice President Brian Cashman, the man behind the construction of the five world championships. There are not many GMs with five world championships on their resume in baseball today. Nevertheless, if the late former principal owner and managing partner George Steinbrenner were alive and well today, he would make it known that Cashman's job and position in the organization were on thin ice. The "what have you done for me lately" owner would be incensed that the Yankees last World Series visit and win came in 2009.

Brace yourself, Yankees fans as it may be a long time before we see the equivalent success that the "The Core Four" have enjoyed. The farm players previously listed are promising, but have yet to step foot on the biggest stage. Consequently, the Yankees future for now is an unknown, which makes it even more painful when discussing what used to be, and that is quite frankly greatness.