You may call him Mo, The Sandman, The Panama Express, The Hammer of God or some other silly nickname. To us Yankees fans, he’s simply the gold standard. The guy you compare everybody else to, and beat them into the ground like they’re all nobodies. Have you ever been at a Yankees game and hoped or prayed that a pitcher on your own team would just give up a run (to make it a save situation) so you could catch a glimpse of Mariano Rivera? I can honestly say that I’m guilty of that. If it means getting the chance to see one of the greatest baseball players of all-time toe the rubber once more, it’s well worth it.
With Mariano Rivera coming out and announcing that he will be retiring at season’s end, I guess it’s finally soaked in that he’s not going to be around beyond this season. You just start think about the times he would jog out of the bullpen to Metallica, and the opposing team knew all too well that the game was over (and they still do to this day). He sawed off more bats than I can remember. His cutter was so great, players knew what was coming and still couldn’t hit it. We could look through all the books and see how many records and awards Mariano has received, but he’s beyond that now. He’s on a whole other level and has nothing to prove. He is the greatest closer in the history of baseball. And at this point, there is no debate about it.
Besides his stellar play, it was also the way he carried himself on and off the field that put him above all others. He was the consummate professional. He will be the very last player to ever wear the #42 on the back of a baseball uniform. And I don’t think the Robinson family could think of anyone better to carry out Jackie’s legacy. During the press conference they held down in Tampa to announce Mariano’s retirement, Rivera said, “It has been an honor and a privilege to wear the pinstripes. It has been wonderful.” The truth is (and I think I can speak for all Yankees fans here), it’s been a real an honor and a privilege just to watch you play all these years. You’ve provided us with so many great memories.
When you attend a game this year, it might very well be your last opportunity to see him pitch. Just stand and applaud at your seat, and realize that you most likely will never see the likes of him again. This season is his swan song. So, please do as I say, and keep your asses in the seats. This year, we stay for all nine.