After watching Mariano Rivera collapse on the Kansas City warning track in excruciating pain, one thought went racing through my mind over and over again: this isn’t happening. Unfortunately, it is.
Mo’s unmatchable career may be coming to a premature end after the future Hall of Famer tore his ACL before last night’s game. It was a fluke injury in every sense of the word, as Rivera is commonly known to be the New York Yankees best outfielder and has been shagging baseballs in the outfield before games for 20 years. For me, watching Mo crumple to the ground and writhe in obvious pain is by far the most upsetting thing I have ever seen on a ball field.
This is the kind of injury that shakes a team to its core and the Yankees have to figure out a way to recover, if they can. His teammates were obviously crushed, with even the normally stoic Derek Jeter looking watery-eyed at times. The two of them have played together forever. Jeter knew the truth about Rivera’s retirement plans (when few others did) and may have been preparing himself mentally and emotionally for losing Mo, but Jeter surely couldn’t have prepared himself for such a devastating accident.
And I felt so incredibly bad for Alex Rodriguez because you could tell he was personally devastated, not even able to talk about the terrifying moment when he saw Mo collapse out on the field. ARod said he and his teammates are going to have to find a way through this because no one would feel sorry for them. While ARod is right in the sense that nobody will take it easy on the Yankees, I truly doubt that anyone in baseball was happy to see such a great man fall.
The most heartbreaking moment for me was Rivera’s press conference after the game when he said he would not leave his team because he wanted to make sure his guys were okay, and then he unsuccessfully fought back tears talking about how he let his teammates down. I couldn’t help but cry myself, knowing that one thing Mo has never done is let his teammates or Yankee fans down. He may have blown a save here or there, but he always gave his best effort and bounced back the next day, ready to save yet another game. Mo couldn’t disappoint anyone if he tried.
I’ve known in my heart that we would soon have to prepare for life without Mo. I just didn’t expect to see a Hall of Fame career come to a close in such a painful way. But even if it does, I’m incredibly grateful for everything Mo has done for the Yankees and us fans. I hope he understands that we know we will never see another like him and we know how lucky we are to have had him, even if the time we had together has come to an unfortunate, early end.