The idea of "closers" is still pretty foreign for players and fans who like to refer to the 1950s as their prime. Heck, when it comes to pitching today in general, those same people are often shaking their head compared to days gone by.
As the premiere closer in the game for the past 15 years, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees has become the all-time saves leader with 602 saves. Like the previous saves leader, Trevor Hoffman, Rivera has succeeded getting batters out even when they knew what type of pitch was coming. That's when you know you have good stuff.
So if he a first-ballot Hall of Famer? In my book, yes he is. Oftentimes, a player's immortality comes from postseason play, and Rivera is the best postseason reliever ever. Heck, you could throw him into the conversation as one of the best postseason pitchers, starting or otherwise.
Rivera leads baseball with 42 career postseason saves. Next on the list is 18! He has a 0.71 postseason ERA and has held opponents to a .176 batting average.
The Yankees get a lot of guff for "buying" players, but Rivera is home-grown, as is the team's captain in Derek Jeter.
If you want to buy some of his collectibles before the "HOF" inscription makes that signature just a bit more valuable, you'll already have to pay a good chunk of change.
The Yankees and Steiner Sports are pretty much married when it comes to memorabilia, and you'll pretty much have to go through Steiner to get signed balls, etc. Special all-times saves leader commemorative signed baseballs are currently being offered on the Steiner Sports website for $199.99.
Hats off to Rivera, who will probably add to his postseason legacy in a few weeks, with the Yanks wrapping up another division title.
When it comes to current players who are shoo-ins for the Hall of Fame, I'd say Jeter, Rivera and Pujols head the list.