Hat Tip to Lohud Yankees Blog:

The Sporting News announced this week that their 12/21 issue names Yankee closer Mariano Rivera as the Pro Athlete of the Year for 2009.  Here is the press release:

Record-setting closer Mariano Rivera, who helped lead the New York Yankees to their 27th World Series championship, is Sporting News’ 2009 Pro Athlete of the Year.
It’s the fourth such honor for the Yankees since Sporting News began handing out a year-end award In 1968. Rivera joins Ron Guidry (1978 winner) and Joe Torre (1996) as individual winners. The Yankees were honored as a team in 1999.
Rivera in 2009 became the second MLB pitcher to save 500 games, converted a personal-best 36 consecutive save opportunities and continued his postseason dominance. With five saves and one run allowed in 16 innings in the playoffs, he improved his postseason records for both saves (39) and ERA (0.74).
Rivera graces the cover of the new Sporting News Magazine. The 12/21 issue includes a Sporting News Conversation with the five-time World Series champion, conducted on a December morning in the kitchen of Rivera’s new suburban New York home.
Excerpts from Steve Greenberg’s interview with Rivera:
Rivera on continuing to pitch at age 40: “The minute I know that I don’t have it, I hang it up right there.”
Rivera on pitching for another team: “With all the respect that all the organizations deserve, it would be hard for me to consider playing for another team. If the opportunities are there, then you don’t know. But I believe the Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to play for one team.”
Rivera on pursuing the all-time saves record: “You know what? I’m OK with whatever happens. I’m not a guy who goes looking for numbers or chasing records.”
Rivera on one day losing his ability to throw the cutter: “I didn’t learn it by somebody teaching me. It came by the Lord. So it’s not within myself to lose it or keep it. It will be the Lord to decide when to take it away.”

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