Mariano Rivera is overrated. There. I said it. Get over it. Overrated does not mean bad. It does not mean he's not a good player. It doesn't mean he's not the best closer ever, it just means overrated.
I've never quite understood why those that throw bouquets at the Yankees point to Rivera as one of the main reasons they've won championships since the 90's. I've actually heard people say "The Yankees don't win five championships without Rivera." Correct, they'd have six. The Arizona Diamondbacks can thank him for their 2003 World Series.
This is more of a criticism on closers in general than Rivera, but you'll never convince me they're one of the top few players on any team. It's illogical. Rivera has a record 608 career saves. Congratulations, more than anybody in history you've managed to get three outs… after the other pitchers got 24 of them and your team scored enough runs to get you lead. Exactly where is the part where he did the heavy lifting? Many times a baseball game is locked up in the 7th or 8th inning, before a closer even enters the game. To Rivera's credit, he does have many 6-out saves in his career. Those I do consider more impressive. I can't be wowed by any closer coming in to get three outs when he's facing the bottom part of anybody's order.
Rivera is the greatest closer ever, which obviously makes him a first ballot Hall of Famer. Just don't tell me he's a major reason why they've won five championships. He never drove in a run and never pitched deep into a game. He took the ball when they already had a lead and managed to not screw it up. If they didn't have Rivera to do it they'd have just bought another team's closer to do the same job. I'm pretty sure the team had no problems winning the 1996 World Series when John Wetteland was their closer and Rivera was setting up. GASP! The Yankees were capable of winning a title without Rivera pitching the 9th? Crazy talk, some will say. Look, the Yankees took Rivera to five championships, not the other way around.
For the Yankee lovers now seeing red, if it makes you feel better replace "Yankees" with any team you don't like and "Rivera" with that team's closer. The argument still stands. Closers are important, but they should never be considered a pillar of the team. They get three outs.