I don't really know how to react to this story from MLB.com which compares Mariano Rivera's contract situation after next season, to the current situation with Bernie Williams.
First of all, comparing Williams at this point of his career to Mo at this point of his career is completely insane. Bernie hasn't been an elite player for years. He hasn't been a regular, and he's coming off two years of little to no offensive production coupled with possibly the worst outfield defense in the league. Mo is still the best closer in the game. He hasn't slowed down a bit.
To even allude to the possibility that Mo could be in the same position as Bernie this time next year is beyond ridiculous. There's only one way Mo won't be back in pinstripes for the 2008 season, and that's if he retires. Even if his numbers drop off this year, which I don't think they will, they'd really have to collapse for him to come down to the level of an average closer in the majors. Mo will be back, Mo will retire a Yankee, and as far as I'm concerned Mo is the best baseball player I've ever seen play the game, even at 37 years-old.
Just to solidify my point, here are Mariano's numbers over the past two years:
2005: 1.38 ERA, 0.87 WHIP
2006: 1.80 ERA, 0.96 WHIP
Find me a closer who's dominated hitters more than that over the past two years. The only question I have about Mo is if he's got 3 or 4 more years in him, next year is a foregone conclusion in my mind, he'll be back and he'll be dominating.
Sidenote: My all time favorite memory of Mo: Back when Shea Hillenbrand was with the Red Sox, I believe he was a rookie, he touched up Mo for a game-winning homerun. After the game, he was interviewed by the Boston reporters and said, "I just feel comfortable in the box against him (Rivera)." The next day, Hillenbrand came up against Mo again in the 9th inning. Mo hit him in the head with the first pitch. How comfortable do you feel now rook?
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