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Joe Girardi Says Stay, but Mariano Rivera ‘Cannot Wait’ to Retire From New York Yankees

After Posting Record-Tying Ninth 40-Save Season, 43-Year-Old Relief Legend Ready to Go

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Joe Girardi Says Stay, but Mariano Rivera ‘Cannot Wait’ to Retire From New York Yankees
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Mariano Rivera acknowledges the ovation he received when he entered the 2013 All-Star game in July at …

COMMENTARY | New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi knows a good thing when he sees it.

That's why he told ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday that he will devote at least some of his offseason to convincing closer Mariano Rivera to stick around for a 20th season.

But Rivera told the New York Daily News that there is no amount of convincing that will do the trick.

"I already told you guys, I don't want to come back like that again," Rivera said, after expressing his curiosity about the crowd gathered around his locker. "I made my decision. They can do whatever they want. That's fine. I don't tell [Girardi] what to do. But on my behalf, I already made my decision in spring training."

Rivera also said he "cannot wait" to be with his family full-time and to leave the grind of a 162-game season behind him.

Rivera, 43, earned his 40th save of the season in 45 opportunities Tuesday night as the battered Yankees continued to hang around in the American League wild-card race with a come-from-behind 6-4 win over the Chicago White Sox.

He tied Trevor Hoffman with the most 40-save seasons in major-league history with nine. There are five pitchers tied for third on that list, Francisco Rodriguez, Robb Nen, Jose Mesa, John Wetteland and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, who had four 40-save seasons.

Rivera took over as the Yankees' closer in 1997, after Wetteland left to sign with the Texas Rangers. Since the beginning of that season, Rivera has saved 643 games (he saved five in 1996 as Wetteland's setup man).

While Rivera has posted those 643 saves, there have been 864 other pitchers record saves. There has been a total of 1,228 other pitcher who posted blown saves in that save span.

Of the 864 other pitchers who have posted saves over the 17 seasons Rivera has been the Yankees' closer, 34 of them were Yankees. Rafael Soriano has the most with 44, with 42 of those coming in 2012 after Rivera went down with a season-ending knee injury in early-May.

The other Yankees on the list:

· Ramiro Mendoza, 16

· Mike Stanton, 15

· Steve Karsey, 12

· David Robertson, Jeff Nelson and Kyle Farnsworth, 7 each

· Tom Gordon and Juan Acevedo, 6 each

· Joba Chamberlain, 5

· Jose Veras and Phil Hughes, 3 each

· 8 pitchers with 2 (Jeff Weaver, Tanyon Sturtze, Edwar Ramirez, Darren Holmes, Jason Grimsley, Dwight Gooden, Phil Coke, Alfredo Aceves)

· 14 pitchers with 1 (Adam Warren, Chien-Ming Wang, Paul Quantrill, Scott Proctor, Sergio Mitre, Dan Miceli, Derek Lowe, Boone Logan, Graeme Lloyd, Orlando Hernandez, Chris Hammond, Todd Erdos, Brian Bruney, Brian Boehringer)

Among active closers, Joe Nathan, now with the Texas Rangers, has the most since 1997 with 336. Francisco Rodriguez of the Baltimore Orioles is the only other with at least 300 since Rivera took over his current role.

Of course, a huge part of Rivera's legacy is his work in the postseason, where his 42 saves are more than twice as many as any other pitcher in history; Brad Lidge is second all-time in postseason saves with 18.

Part of that, of course, is that Rivera pitched in the wild-card era, so there were more games available to him than there were for relief pitchers from before 1995.

But still, he had to go out there and make the conversions -- and Rivera did that. Since 1997, 59 other pitchers have saved games in the postseason, a list that includes names familiar to the closer role (Lidge, Nen, Jason Isringhausen) and others not so much (Michael Jackson, Donne Wall, David Price, Greg Maddux, Mark Buehrle).

For what it's worth, Girardi was parsing semantics a bit and said the ESPNNewYork.com report got overblown.

"It's a man who is retired talking to another man who is thinking about retiring and just telling him my feelings on it," Girardi told the Daily News. "It's not me lobbying him to come back. I would never want a player to come back if he didn't want to come back. I'll just talk to him because I want to make sure that his heart is right when he decides it's time."

That's all well and good, Joe.

But would you help him return all the gifts if Rivera were to stay?

Phil Watson is a freelance commentator and journalist who covers the New York Yankees for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also editor of brewers101.com and holds an editorial position at HoopsHabit.com.

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