Two weeks after injuring his elbow, Twins closer Joe Nathan attempted a game of catch on Sunday morning in Fort Meyers, Florida. The results were not what he wanted and he confirmed that he would need Tommy John surgery, therefore having to miss the entire 2010 season. It’s unfortunate news for Minnesota, as the Twins will be without one of the majors’ premiere relievers. Yet, we are once again reminded of what the Ten Commandments teach us:

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my Commandments.

As soon as you begin to think there is a reliever who is on the level of Mariano Rivera, he will strike you down.

While Joe Nathan was closing shop in Fort Meyers, Mariano Rivera was in Tampa continuing his slow and steady path to ready himself for the season, after winning his 5th World Series and turning 40 in November.

Nathan for his career (including the playoffs) has thrown 693 innings in 10 seasons. The Great Mariano has thrown over 1200 innings in his 15 seasons (including the playoffs). Even though he has pitched longer and usually had a larger workload, Rivera has not had to deal with the same problems that Nathan has, as this will be the second season the 35-year old misses due to injury. Mo has needed minor surgeries before and has been banged up at times, but his divine powers of healing have allowed him to avoid any catastrophic injury.

His advancing age has been no hindrance either (ERA+’s of 317 and 243 the last two years) and he continues to excel in every aspect of pitching despite losing some velocity (avg. speed on his cutter has declined by 2 mph over the last two seasons). His yearly K/BB since 2006 reads as follows: 5.00, 6.16, 12.83, 6.00. His 2009 FIP of 2.89 was better than what he put up in the year 2000 (3.28). There are no words to describe Him other than what’s in the Bible.

Every couple years or so, some fans will lay claim that their closer has usurped Rivera’s throne, but that pitcher always seems to either flame out quickly (see Gagne, Eric), get injured (Nathan), or blow up spectacularly in the playoffs and have less-than-stellar peripherals (here’s looking at you, Papelbon!). When you worship false idols, bad things will happen.

In our lifetimes, we may never again see a pitcher with the sustained dominance of the Great Mariano. He has a career ERA+ of 202, meaning that over the course of his reign, he has pitched twice as well as the average MLB pitcher. As we enter 2010, let us all take a moment to recognize that for so many years we have witnessed the greatest reliever to ever take the ball.

Mariano Rivera
Forgive them Mariano for they know not what they do.