What was my favorite New York Yankees moment of the year? That’s a very easy call. Seeing the great Mariano Rivera officially lay claim to the title of the greatest closer in baseball history.
As you can probably tell from reading this blog, Mo is my favorite Yankee player. I traveled up to Toronto that weekend in September just to see him pitch for the all-time saves record because I did not want to miss out on being a part of that magical moment. I was very fortunate to be at the Saturday afternoon game when he tied the record, a moment made even more special as I was watching the game with two friends, one who is as big a baseball fan as I am and the other who likes baseball games because you can drink as much beer as you want (or as much as the stadium workers will sell you before they get suspicious about how drunk you are). But Mo was the big attraction that day and not even the subdued reaction of the Blue Jays faithful could dull my spirits, even though I felt like they should have given Mo a long standing ovation out of respect for all that he has accomplished in the game of baseball.
I generally like my job, but for one day I completed resented it because I could not get out of covering an event in Manhattan to head out to Yankee Stadium and personally witness Mo shine in surpassing the record. Typical Mo, he was quite embarrassed by all the attention from the cheering and adoring maniacs who actually made it out to the stadium to support him that day, but no one deserved that show of love and respect more than Mariano.
That’s not to take away from the other great moments in Yankee land this year. Of course, Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit ranks right up there behind Mo’s accomplishment. Again, it was another moment I missed seeing in person because of a previously scheduled family engagement (the skipping of which would be grounds for permanent banishment).
I also can’t disagree with this column selecting Joe Torre’s return to Yankee Stadium for Old Timers’ Day. I was actually there that day and it was a wonderful day for a number of reasons: Torre’s return; Bernie Williams playing in the game for the first time, hitting a double and being driven in on a home run by another favorite of mine, Tino Martinez; the lovely tribute to the now retired Gene Monahan (I was completely jealous of all his swag). It was a day made even more special because it was celebrated as part of a group outing with more than 1,000 of my fellow Syracuse University alumni. We were baking under the hot sun, but it was a glorious day full of laughter, baseball and margaritas (yes, they sell them at the stadium and they are really good).
But for me, nothing tops Mo’s moment in the sun. As much as I’d love for Mo to pitch forever, when he does finally decide to call it quits, I will have this memory and all the other great Mo moments to look back on with a big smile.
What was your favorite Yankees moment of 2011?