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  • 05/04/2011, 08:47AM ET

The most difficult to replace

Per Sempre (5-20-1) vs Roni (64-13-8)
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Give me the player {no coaches allowed aka Phil Jackson} from one of the four major sports who will be most difficult to replace when he retires.

This player should mean alot to his team/organization/fan base and also be at the point in his career where he is somewhat close to retiring aka dont pick someone young.

My pick was one of the best players on five championship teams, four in a row in the late 90s.

He has dominated his sport in ways i have never seen before. He is a consumate professional in every sense of the word. His teams fanbase literally bows to him every time he enters the game. As the baseball landscape has changed greatly since he started pitching, he still has used just one pitch to dominate for close to two decades. He is like a fine wine, he has only gotten better with age.

Tom Kelly, a former manager of the Minnesota Twins once said...

"He needs to pitch in a higher league, if there is one. Ban him from baseball. He should be illegal."


The only major leaguer who still wears number 42. The sandman, the legend...

My pick is Mariano Rivera.

GL to whoever takes this.


OK, my friend.
First of all, I want to congratulate you on a great Topic.
I hope I can make a worthy argument, as not to waste your nice your idea.

When I saw your topic and read your argument, one name came to my mind:

Timothy Theodore Duncan

Let's see if he matches your description:

1) "mean alot to his team/organization/fan base"
Duncan is known as the "lone star" in his team.

2) "close to retiring"
unfortunately this is correct.

3) "He has dominated his sport in ways i have never seen before"
Let me see:
NBA Rookie of the Year
2?? MVP
13?? All-Star
3?? Finals MVP
4?? Champion


"He is a consumate professional in every sense of the word"
There's a reason he's called "The big fundamental".

"His teams fanbase literally bows to him every time he enters the game."
While this is a given, I have to add that he is revered by his team/fanbase, but also he is respected by basically everyone who knows the game.

Anybody can be a scorer or a superstar. But they always come with distractions, controversy, etc.
But to have someone who is of his value that gives you no distractions? Priceless!

Good luck!


Duncan is definitely a good pick that i didnt expect. I was expecting Kobe. It will be difficult to debate how much they each mean to their fan bases because that really is a matter of opinion.

I dont understand alot of the below comments. How are closers overrated? Think about it like this. Tim Duncan plays 40 minutes a game approximately. He will miss a few shots here and there, he can make a bad pass, fail to grab an easy rebound, ect ect. But through those mistakes, he'll also have plenty of chances to correct them.

Closers dont get second chances once they enter a game. They are the teams last stand to win the game.

I think about it in the sense that Tim Duncan gets to experience many situations where he is either in blowout wins or losses. Mariano doesnt, he has to be near perfect all the time to do his job effectively.

When Mariano enters the game, it is to protect a small lead and it takes just one bad pitch to ruin his outing.

They know what pitch is coming and still can't hit it.

Mariano is still just as good as he was 10 years ago. Even if it's just a little, i think Tim is starting to fall off.

MTC and good luck.


"Duncan is definitely a good pick"
Thanks (I mean it)!

"I was expecting Kobe."
Well, Kobe is easier to replace IMO. LeBron & Wade could fight and one move to LA, etc.

The first reason I think the impact of a team like the Spurs losing Tim against Mariano Rivera.
is simple:
Rivera is only important if the rest of the team did not do their jobs right.
Tim plays all the games, every game. As simple as that. And they count on him to hold on the other team much like Rivera... only for the whole game ;)

Now for the people who say the Spurs have 3 superstars, I disagree. Parker & Ginobli are at best the same as Fisher is on the lakers. A great player, but not a megastar like Kobe & Shaq.
And if you think Dunkan is not the leader of the Spurs, it is ONLY because of his quiet demeanor (more on that next argument).
He does not make demands or attracts attention to himself like Kobe, Shaq, MJ, and almost all other stars do. And that is what makes him unique

If you have a great team like the Yankees, chances are you won't need that much a closer.
But no team has won NBA rings without a superstar.
Did you know Rivera's Win???loss record is 75-55?


"But no team has won NBA rings without a superstar."

Who was the superstar on the 2004 pistons? I think they had a good balanced team in my opinion.

You can't get on MO's win-loss record but here is the stat that i think brings it home for MO.

"He has the lowest career WHIP (1.00) and ERA (2.23) of any pitcher in the live-ball era, making him one of the top pitchers since 1920 in preventing runners from reaching base and scoring"...that is from baseball-reference.com

Tim Duncan is a great player but he's definitely not the best to ever live or close to it at what he does.

The above statistic shows that you can make a case for MO being one of the greatest pitchers to ever live as he is the leader in two of the most important statistics of all time.

His career ERA in the postseason...when it matters... 0.71.

MO has pitched 1164.2 innings in his career. He has allowed just 62 HR.

If there are 3 batters in an inning, that means MO has faced 3492 batters in his career.


That's one homerun given up every 56 AB which is inhuman to even think about.

That incredible success is not heard of in baseball history therefore it will be very difficult to replace.


Quotes to explain the importance of Duncan:

1999:
[b]Robinson:
"He's the real thing."
Charles Barkley:"I have seen the future and he wears number 21."
Coach Greg Popovich to Jeff Van Gundy after they beat the Knicks: "I've got Tim and you don't. That's the difference."

2005:
[b]Robinson
referred to the Spurs titles as the "Tim Duncan era".
NBA.com[/b]"with his unique multidimensional talent, Duncan depleted and dissected the Pistons... He was the fulcrum of virtually every key play down the stretch"
Popovich: "Duncan's complete game is so sound, so fundamental, so unnoticed at times, because if he didn't score, people think, 'Well, he didn't do anything'. But he was incredible and he was the force that got it done for us."
Ben Wallace: "He put his team on his shoulders and carried them to a championship. That's what the great players do."
Popovich:"Tim is the common denominator. He's had a different cast around him in '99, '03 and '05. He's welcomed them all. But [b]he is that easy to play with, and his skills are so fundamentally sound that other people can fit in.

May 4, 2011  08:58 AM ET

Excellent idea, my friend!
I will put my argument at night after work.

May 4, 2011  09:00 AM ET

Good luck man.

May 4, 2011  09:11 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Excellent idea, my friend!I will put my argument at night after work.

Agreed. I have a couple in mind, but will wait until Roni posts his choice.....

May 4, 2011  09:11 AM ET

Good pick by left.

May 4, 2011  10:28 AM ET

Again, He is a closer, come on. The Closer position is the most over rated position in sports. Everyone makes a big deal about the position when they really should not. "He dominated the sport like no other", really? Pedro Martinez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson all were dominate in the 90's and early 2000's, yet Rivera dominated like no other? Pedro had an ERA under 2 one year. Right now, he is not even close to the most important player on the Yankees. The Yankees have only one solid starting pitcher, Sabathia is the most important player on the Yankees.

Since we are talking about sports entirely, players like Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning are far more valuable to there team then Rivera. Without Kobe or Peyton, the Lakers and Colts are average to below average teams. Without Rivera, the Yankees are still a playoff team.

May 4, 2011  11:14 AM ET

I think it would be difficult to name any pitcher simply because they aren't an everyday player. A starter goes out every 5 days, 3 days rest in a pinch. Brian Wilson pitched in 70 games for the Giants, converted 48 saves last season. Is that really significant in a 162 game season? As significant as Peyton Manning taking every snap for the Colts?

May 4, 2011  11:26 AM ET

Nick, I think the Lakers could still make the playoffs without Kobe. Pau, Odom, Artest and Bynum are all very good players.

May 4, 2011  11:27 AM ET

But I agree 100% with you. I will wait to say who my pick would be.

May 4, 2011  12:10 PM ET

So many people to choose from and you choose a closer? Mo is a bad pick, great pitcher but can Brian Wilson, who has the most saves of any closer in the past few years replace Mo, most likely he can and some other closers also.

May 4, 2011  12:12 PM ET
QUOTE(#7):

Nick, I think the Lakers could still make the playoffs without Kobe. Pau, Odom, Artest and Bynum are all very good players.

You could be right, the NBA playoffs take more then half the teams in league. So yes the Lakers could still be a playoff team, BUT they would not be a title contender without Kobe.

I like Rivera as a player, he is excellent at what he does. Its just that what he does, is not an overall important position as say a starting pitcher or an everyday player in baseball. ALSO, when we are talking about all sports, clearly the Quarterback is the most important position in sports. Taking away Manning (either one), Brees, Brady, Rodgers, Vick, etc. and replacing them is harder then replacing a closer in baseball.

May 4, 2011  12:20 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

I like Rivera as a player, he is excellent at what he does. Its just that what he does, is not an overall important position as say a starting pitcher or an everyday player in baseball. ALSO, when we are talking about all sports, clearly the Quarterback is the most important position in sports. Taking away Manning (either one), Brees, Brady, Rodgers, Vick, etc. and replacing them is harder then replacing a closer in baseball.

I agree, I was just stating the Lakers would be a playoff team without Kobe.

May 4, 2011  12:22 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

But I agree 100% with you. I will wait to say who my pick would be.

LA would still do well.

May 4, 2011  12:56 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

But I agree 100% with you. I will wait to say who my pick would be.

Agreed. Everyone should wait until Roni makes his selection.....

May 4, 2011  01:01 PM ET

Great TD idea. Takes a lot of guts to pick a closer, but Mo is an all-timer.

May 4, 2011  01:28 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

Again, He is a closer, come on. The Closer position is the most over rated position in sports. Everyone makes a big deal about the position when they really should not. "He dominated the sport like no other", really? Pedro Martinez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson all were dominate in the 90's and early 2000's, yet Rivera dominated like no other? Pedro had an ERA under 2 one year. Right now, he is not even close to the most important player on the Yankees. The Yankees have only one solid starting pitcher, Sabathia is the most important player on the Yankees. Since we are talking about sports entirely, players like Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning are far more valuable to there team then Rivera. Without Kobe or Peyton, the Lakers and Colts are average to below average teams. Without Rivera, the Yankees are still a playoff team.

agreed. I think the TWINS proved last year, how easy it is to replace a dominant closer.

May 4, 2011  01:30 PM ET

at least a Packer homer didn't grab this. Or, Coni....

May 4, 2011  01:32 PM ET
QUOTE(#14):

Great TD idea. Takes a lot of guts to pick a closer, but Mo is an all-timer.

yes, but his better days are behind him

May 4, 2011  01:35 PM ET
QUOTE(#15):

agreed. I think the TWINS proved last year, how easy it is to replace a dominant closer.

you could point out many more cases where a dominant closer would have gotten a team to the playoffs or further.
The closer role is not overrated, many closers are not dominant enough to fill the role. The dominant closer changes the game, the avg closer does not.
Saves are over rated, not the dominant closer.

May 4, 2011  01:36 PM ET
QUOTE(#17):

yes, but his better days are behind him

his current days are not too shabby.

 
May 4, 2011  01:55 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

You could be right, the NBA playoffs take more then half the teams in league. So yes the Lakers could still be a playoff team, BUT they would not be a title contender without Kobe.I like Rivera as a player, he is excellent at what he does. Its just that what he does, is not an overall important position as say a starting pitcher or an everyday player in baseball. ALSO, when we are talking about all sports, clearly the Quarterback is the most important position in sports. Taking away Manning (either one), Brees, Brady, Rodgers, Vick, etc. and replacing them is harder then replacing a closer in baseball.

You're wrong.

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