The Tigers don't have a clue who their closer will be this year.

The Yankees, meanwhile, don't know who it will be next year.

Word started surfacing Thursday longtime Yankees closer Mariano Rivera plans to retire at the end of the season, meaning this year will be one long farewell tour for arguably the greatest reliever of all-time.

"For years there with the Yankees, he actually was the MVP of baseball," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said before a night game against the Atlanta Braves. "That's how good I think he was, and what I think he meant to the Yankees."

Because Rivera was a closer, though, he never won a major award. Closers rarely do.

But it didn't diminish his importance to the Yankees run of world championships. He took over the closer's role full time in 1997, and started a stunning run of dominance that has continued into his 40s. Amazingly, he did all that — 2.21 career ERA, a major league-record 608 saves, and on and on — much with one phenomenal pitch, the cut fastball.

"We're talking about our closer situation right now — the mentality that the Yankees had because they had him was totally different," said Leyland, who right now has many candidates to close, but most with more reasons against them than for. "When the Yankees took the field in the ninth inning, they never thought they were gonna lose. Never. I guarantee you. They thought the game was over. And that's pretty good."

From The Detroit News: