When I started thinking about the personal relevance of the injury I realized I wouldn’t see my favorite pitcher, my favorite baseball player, really my favorite athlete of all-time play for another year
, if ever again. Some have speculated that he won’t let his career end this way, but when asked about an eventual return, a tearful Rivera said:
Update: The ACL tear is in fact season ending, so he’ll be shut down for the rest of 2012. The good news though, is that after a sleepless night the 42-year-old, Mariano Rivera has decided to return next season, saying “Write it down in big letters. I’m not going down like this.” He continued, “I love to play the game. I don’t think, to me, going out like this is the right way. … I don’t think like that. With the strength of the Lord, I have to continue.”
Having the greatest player ever at a specific position on your team is quite the blessing. When he is both as dominant as he was and an absolutely magnificent a person it takes it to another level.
I’ve been working on a “Top Five Most Likable Athletes/Top Five Most Odious Athletes” blog post, and Mariano Rivera was already on the top of the likable list. There will be a plethora of articles written about just how dominant he truly was, so I won’t write about that. Instead, I want to write about him on a more human level.
Rivera was of course a stellar postseason pitcher and pitched in many big games. One of the many things I always respected about him was how even in such an emotional role, he remained stoic. Not only did this instill confidence among his teammates, coaches, and fans, but it was highly respectful to his opponents. You never saw Rivera dance and celebrate in a mocking manner like you see on a regular basis with Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde. No, Rivera is much to humble for those shenanigans. Rather than being prideful about his success and his unstoppable cutter, he gives all the credit to God.
Off the field, Rivera as just as spectacular as he was on the field. While teammates were in the tabloids for their divorces, gambling, and drinking, Rivera was doing this: “Yankee Reliever Mariano Rivera Looking to Buy and Rehabilitate Dilapidated Church in New Rochelle.” I had heard that Rivera wanted to give back to his community by rebuilding churches and forming community centers for children, but I didn’t know he was already doing it. When asked in a recent interview what he wants his legacy to be about, he said:
“I want my legacy to be that I was a player that always worried about somebody else. That I made sure that I did the right thing for others. And when I do that, I’m OK.”
While I’m devastated by the loss of the best player on my favorite sports team and not getting see my favorite athlete play, I know that he’ll be doing even bigger things for the world after retirement. I thank him for a spectacular career with the Yankees and the unbelievable purpose he has exhibited in his life!
This was a somber, tribute post, but I wanted to point out that Mariano is more than just a great pitcher. He is a great man. Be sure to click on some of the above hyperlinks. Please share your comments below and as always, please subscribe to this blog by clicking the “Follow” button at the top of the right sidebar. If you don’t have a WordPress account, you’ll have to enter your email address. You can share your opinions in the comment section below or by tweeting to @Ryan_Kantor. Thanks for reading!