Top critical review
Smooth writing, but overall vanilla content
Reviewed in the United States on May 12, 2019
This book is quite accessible and easy to read. The details concerning Rivera’s modest upbringing in Panama were the highlights for me, as it’s amazing and inspiring that he could rise from those low conditions to being the greatest MLB closer of all time. The only flaw in this book is the feeling that Rivera is deliberating protecting his squeaky clean image. He is known for avoiding controversy during his playing days, and he is outspoken about his Christian faith (which comes up often in this book). As if he is aware of that reputation, this book doesn’t recount many negative stories about other players, and Rivera rarely gives his opinion about others (especially teammates) unless his opinion is favorable. In his 21 years as a Yankee, I’m sure Rivera was involved in some incident, or witnessed something, or had a bad opinion about some players or coaches. But none of it comes out in his book. It felt as if he were giving a public relations interview for the Yankees throughout the whole book. I also didn’t find some parts credible. He claims that he went from throwing 85 mph to 95 mph just like that, with no training or conscious effort. He also claims that he developed his cutter randomly while throwing to Ramiro Mendoza before a game. He says that the Lord gave him those abilities all of a sudden, whereas I know or believe that he actually engaged in some training to develop those skills. I would have been interested in learning how he developed major league pitching ability in rural Panama, as opposed to reading about supposed divine intervention. I would have also appreciated Rivera’s opinion or defense of the closer position, which receives a fair amount of criticism from old school fans. Many people believe that the closer is not a legitimate position; these same people feel that no closer can be worthy of a HOF career. Rivera could have used this book as a counter to those beliefs; he is the greatest closer of all time, after all.