Mariano Rivera has helped gain a bit justice for some of baseball’s toughest players. His new three-year, $45 million contract was officially announced yesterday, but its effects have been felt for weeks.
It started with a four-year, $19 million deal for Scott Linebrink and then there was a four-year, $46 million contract for Francisco Cordero. There have also been deals for Troy Percival and Matt Herges and David Riske and Mike Timlin and LaTroy Hawkins.
Relief pitchers are gaining a small measure of economic justice this winter, in part, because the Yankees were pushed into record territory with their offer to Rivera. He deserves every penny, but this wasn’t just about him. This was also for players that work just as hard and endure just as much, but may never be the greatest closer in baseball.
Rivera owed this contract to every reliever that trudges in from the bullpen when they can barely lift their arm. He owed it to everyone that fights through injuries and surgeries and rehabs. And he owed to closers who have yet to be paid like Francisco Rodriguez and Jonathan Papelbon and Bobby Jenks and J.J. Putz and Joakim Soria and Manny Corpus.
Rivera stepped to the front of the room and demanded a cut of baseball’s $6.075 billion for men who are asked to warm up two or three times during a game and pitch four or five days straight.
It will be the job of players like Linebrink and Cordero and Percival and Herges and Riske and Timlin and Hawkins to carry on the fight.
They owe it to everyone that follows just like Rivera owed it to them.