Friday, March 8, 2013

Sad day in Yankee land as Rivera to call it quits

I knew the day I long dreaded would come, but now that it’s here, it really stings.

Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in baseball history and one of the all-time great members of the New York Yankees, is expected to announce that he will retire after the 2013 season. The news is not at all surprising as he has talked openly about wanting to be a full-time family man for years. He probably would have retired after last season if not for that horrific crash on the Kansas City warning track. Mo was just too much of a legend to go out that way, for his last appearance at Yankee Stadium to be a ceremonial first pitch rather than the last pitch of yet another victorious season.

I just hope the Yankees can give him the sendoff Mariano deserves, one last World Series Championship before he goes home to his family for good. I’m starting to doubt that the team is good enough to do that this year, but I have no doubts whatsoever that Mo will go out with yet another dominant season under his belt that will further solidify his mark on baseball’s record books and in the minds of all of us who were lucky enough to watch him pitch.

After this season, we spoiled Yankee fans are going to find out what it feels like to deal with a mortal closer, a fate that we have been spared for more than 15 years because of Rivera’s calmness and consistency. Whether it’s David Robertson or Joba Chamberlain or some other reliever who will step into Mo’s shoes, we are just not going to have the same safe feelings about the ninth inning as we have had in all the years that Mo was handed the ball.

I love the line in the New York Times story about the possibility of Rivera changing his mind between now and Saturday because I think it sums up what all of us Yankee fans are feeling: that small glimmer of hope that Mariano will decide he simply cannot walk away from the game of baseball just yet. But he’s given us so much already that as much as I will miss the thrill of hearing Enter Sandman and knowing Mo is coming into the game to shut another team down, I will choose to be incredibly grateful for what he has given us already and wish him well in his life after baseball.

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