ANAHEIM -- There's an exclusive club among sports royalty, reserved for only the absolute best of the best at what they did. You know the names -- Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Joe Montana, Muhammad Ali, etc.
Angels reliever Michael Kohn volunteered another name to that list on Friday: Mariano Rivera.
"He goes out there and gets three outs, which is not as big as going 3-for-5 with two homers and winning the game, but he needs to be in that category as the greatest of all time because at what he does, he is the greatest of all time," Kohn said. "So, for me, yeah, he's up there with the Jordans, Tiger Woods, Montanas -- he's that type of player. You have to compare in other sports, because there's no one like him in this sport."
Rivera is visiting Anaheim for the final time this weekend, as part of a farewell tour fitting of only the iconic ballplayers. The Angels will honor him Saturday and present him with a special gift, as every other organization has done this season.
Rivera is hardly mentioned among the greatest athletes in history, but perhaps he should be, because, as Kohn noted, he is hands-down the greatest ever at his job.
His 631 career saves are the most in Major League history, surpassing Trevor Hoffman by 30. His career ERA of 2.199 ranks 13th all-time among those with a minimum of 1,000 career innings. He's posted a 0.70 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP in the playoffs, helping the Yankees claim five World Series championships. And at age 43, coming off knee surgery, he's having a typical season, with a 1.48 ERA and 23 saves in 24 chances.
But relievers, in Kohn's eyes, "get looked over."
"I put him in that air just because nobody in the sport of baseball has done what he's done," said Kohn, who will send a jersey to the Yankees clubhouse this weekend for Rivera to sign. "If you're a hitter, you hit .300, that's 3-for-10. He does that as a closer, but he does it way more consistent. Obviously hitting is totally different from pitching, but he needs to be in that discussion. He needs to be in the category of one of the greatest baseball players of all time."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less