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Nothing But Love For a Legend

A legend-ending injury

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle…Mariano Rivera.  Today is an extremely tough day emotionally for all Yankee fans.  Mariano Rivera, over the past 16 years, has shown the legendary characteristics which allow him to be placed in the iconic list mentioned above.  For a 27 years old Yankee fan, Mariano Rivera has been a staple for my favorite team for the majority of my life.  That might be an understatement.  It is safe to say that Mariano Rivera has been the glue that has held the Yankees together.  While Derek Jeter gets more publicity and is looked at as the face of the franchise, Mariano was always our rock.

If you don’t know already, Mariano injured his right knee while shagging fly balls during batting practice yesterday.  For anyone who thinks this is irresponsible behavior by any means, you couldn’t be more wrong.  Mariano has done just that throughout his entire career.  When he was drafted by the Yankees, he was drafted as a position player, not a pitcher.  He is a great baseball player, extremely athletic, and catching fly balls was something he loved to do.  Wouldn’t we all be fortunate enough to end our careers doing something that we love?

Mariano’s legacy is built by both his on the field performance and the way he carried himself away from baseball.  He is the all-time leader in saves with 608 in the regular season and a ridiculous 42 in the playoffs.  He has a career ERA of 2.16 in the regular season and an ungodly 0.70 ERA in the playoffs.  He has won 5 World Series titles,12 All-Star teams, and has 5 Rolaid’s Relief Pitcher awards for best reliever in any given season.  Most debates have two sides, but if you ask anyone who knows anything about baseball who the best closer of all time is, the answer has to be Mariano Rivera.

Mariano brings nothing but the best to the game

As good as he was on the mound, Mariano was just as professional off the field.  In 16 seasons, playing in the biggest spot light, Mariano never said or did the wrong thing.  While other athletes were out having affairs, shooting themselves or others, fighting, taking illegal substances, etc. etc…Mariano was a class citizen throughout.  He was always a team first individual, and someone who gave back to his native country of Panama and his new home in the Bronx and Tri-state area.  When I was a growing up in 1995, Mariano came to my camp to speak to all of the campers.  He was a brand-new pitcher, fairly unknown, but he carried such a confidence that it was easy to see that he would be successful.  He played catch, took questions, signed autographs and was one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.  16 seasons later, with more success then anyone can imagine having, Mariano has not changed at all.

“Mo is a vital part of this team on the field, off the field. He’s going to be missed,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. “There’s no other way to put it. You don’t replace him. Someone else can do his job, but you can’t really replace him.”  Derek Jeter was said to be in tears after the game when he found out Mo had torn the ACL and was done for the year, speculated to be his last.  “It’s hard to even talk about it tonight,” Alex Rodriguez said in a hushed clubhouse. “Mo means so much to all of us on a personal level. Obviously there’s a significance on the field, on the mound with his presence. The bottom line is we’re the New York Yankees. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us.”  Rodriguez, who has a tendency of saying the wrong things was very accurate on that point.  Red Sox nation was celebrating the news already.  However, I can’t even get to the place where I dissect this injury in a baseball perspective, because Mo means so much to all of us on a personal level, something the Yankee backed up in their comments late last night.

I am praying that Mariano recovers and thinks about coming back.  I don’t necessarily expect him to pitch another full season, because he clearly wants to hang it up after this year, and with his resume, who could blame him?  However, he needs to put on the pinstripes one more time, jog out to the mound, record a final out, and enter the handshake line he has started for so many years  The Yankee fans need to see him off one last time, not a few Royal fans who caught batting practice yesterday.  We know how hard he works, how great of shape he has stayed in for his entire life, and I believe we will see him again on the Yankee Stadium bump.  If not, all I can say is THANK YOU MARIANO.  You have showed all your fans the right way to be a professional baseball player throughout your entire career and you will obviously be missed dearly.  You will not ever be replaced and your legacy will live on forever.

You can check out this heart-breaking video with Mariano discussing his future after the injury:

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=7889155

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8 responses

  1. Jms

    Rob, never knew you possessed such a great talent. This article is professionally written and is honestly better than most NYT pieces written about pro sports. It is a shame to see Mo have an awful accident like this, however, at least it was on a field that he gave life to. I respect Mo tremendously, not only for his loyalty, but for him dedication and selflessness. He gives back so much to the communities he was exposed to as a child. He’s a true class act and it shows in all of his actions. One of a kind – he will be missed. (I don’t see him pitching again).

    May 6, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    • I appreciate that a lot bro, when writing about someone like Mariano its really easy to speak from the heart, the heartest part is to find the proper superlatives to do him justice…Though his knee seems to be really torn apart, he announced he was going to be back, which leads me to believe he will succeed because he seems like someone who delivers when says he will do something, but when i first saw the injury, it definitely looked like the end

      May 6, 2012 at 12:32 PM

  2. Ellen

    Btw, this is a great article….

    May 4, 2012 at 8:10 PM

  3. Ellen

    Mo has always been a classy guy, both on and off the field. It is heartbreaking to watch that video. I wish him well, and hope to see him pitch another time…

    May 4, 2012 at 8:08 PM

  4. Comment # 2 and please read my blog. Mariano decided he wants to come back. This helps take away some of the pain for me. He is “one of a kind.” EDB

    May 4, 2012 at 5:51 PM

  5. I believe the only way Mariano will make an attempt to return, is if he does not wish to go out this way. When the Yankees get back from KC, he will meet with the Yankees doctors, speak to his family and probably to god. This is what happens to pitchers when they get older, even if its a freak injury. But in Mo’s favor, he is in great shape and this will help his rehabilitation, if he wishes to do so. EDB

    May 4, 2012 at 12:02 PM

  6. mr. know-it-all

    great article, bobby. you captured and articulated perfectly the character and significance of mariano both as an athlete and a man.

    and like you, i’m not saying good-bye to mariano just yet. the road to a return will be challenging, but i can’t see a tumble on the warning track in kaufman stadium as mariano’s last act on a baseball field. he will return to the yankee stadium mound again to the hypnotic beat of “enter the sandman” and the deafening cheers. i just hope i’m there when it happens.

    May 4, 2012 at 10:32 AM

  7. I am a Mets fan, as I am sure you all know, and I got very teary eyed after reading that article and watching that video. Mariano was pure class and deserves not only to a first ballot Hall of Famer but he deserves to be remembered as one of the greatest athletes of our generation. Respect to Mo.

    May 4, 2012 at 9:47 AM

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