By Guest Blogger Richie Graeber
I am absolutely flabbergasted, stunned and truly heartbroken at yesterday’s mishap in KC with Mariano Rivera. Not that he was going to be with us much longer, not that we can’t win with out him (because I believe we can) but HOW IT HAPPENED. At least, as he said, he was doing what he loves to do. Deep down I think we all knew that this would be his last year, but I surely hoped it would be with arms up-stretched like TD call standing on the mound winning the WS as his “swan song”; not crumpled on the ground during a pre-game mishap in early May. Even as I write this……………..it’s like the loss of a dear friend. My stomach churns and I wish that we could wake up and find out it isn’t true….but it is. It’s not like being traded either and after all, in baseball, how many injuries are career ending? Not many at all. Trades and injuries usually keep a player around for future enjoyment. This was a miserable and disappointing farewell to arguably the greatest closer and post season pitcher in the history of baseball.
Baseball had retired the #42 in homage to Jackie Robinson but Mo was allowed to continue to wear it, as it was his number already….he was “grandfathered in” so to say. As the last remaining player to carry a #42 on his back, Rivera’s retirement means we will never see the # 42 on an active player again. I tried to read some media accounts and couldn’t get very far through the articles without stopping. Couldn’t finish, wouldn’t finish……………………
This is akin to August 2, 1979 – Thurman Munson – as far as the feeling in my heart. Of course, we will be treated to Old Timer’s Days and the like, with Mo appearing again at the stadium and baseball festivities as opposed to Thurman as it was his death and infinitely sadder but the wrenching feeling I have in my gut beckons back to then.
People may hate the Yankees, may boo greats like ARod & Jeter, et al but I don’t know if I ever heard boos for Rivera. He had a quiet dignity and professionalism which he wore like a vestment. Never showed up a teammate, never complained about a loss, never complained to the ump, never shirked his responsibilities for the few blown saves we witnessed (i.e. Game 7 in 2001 WS & Game 4 in 2004 ALCS to name the biggest 2 that I recall). Walked out the mound…. took the ball…. did his best and walked off the mound – except the four times he was on the mound when he was swarmed after a WS championship (’96 saw Wettland on the mound). No one could not like nor respect Mariano Rivera – ’nuff said! And if you did, see a counselor. It could be a deep seeded problem or misguided and venomous personality trait that needs to be addressed.
There is, at best, a minimal chance he may return to the mound this season and he claims he’ll be back for next year…. but what if he can’t do it? He’s 42 going on 43………….then again he’s defied physics the last few years anyway. I don’t see it happening. I want to; but I’ve come to expect we have seen the last of “the great Mariano” – no more Sandman
Let’s hope and pray that there will be many more like him – everywhere in all sports – as an exemplary athlete who performed and behaved as class personified.
TACO’S LAST BITE
Listened to Steven A. Smith’s ESPN radio show that other afternoon (1pm). In discussing the Knick’s postseason play (down 0-2 at the time) he opined that Carmello was in the driver’s seat…”playing with house money”…because with all the injuries, nobody expected the Knicks to win. All Melo had to do was get his 20 to 25 points and he could say he did his part. Unreal. Winners pick their team up, place them on the shoulders or back when times are tough, and get the job done. A lot to ask of Carmello….as I don’t think he is capable. But to give him a free pass for 25 points a game as the Knicks go down…Steven A. may be smart…but he is a dope.