NPR- Rivera was diagnosed with a torn ACL and meniscus Thursday night after an MRI exam taken during the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the Royals. The injury likely ends his season, and quite possibly his career, an unfathomable way for one of the most decorated pitchers in history to go out.
There is no act in sports more graceful and iconic than Mariano Rivera’s slow jog to the mound in the 9th inning with Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” playing in the background. For millions of Yankee fans, it meant we were about to witness one of the greatest, most consistent athletes in sports go to work. For the opposing team, it meant game over. But Rivera is more than 17+ years of dominance and unparalleled success. His level of professionalism and his overall persona, both on and off the field, remains unrivaled. When news broke yesterday that Rivera had injured himself in batting practice while shagging fly balls in the outfield, the collective baseball world held its breath. It’s a rare breed of player that can transcend some of the most historic rivalries in sports to garner the respect and adoration of fans from all different teams, but Mo is just that. Seeing Red Sox fans and Mets fans defend the 42 year old and bash any Boston or New York native who spoke otherwise was an incredible sight. Put aside the fact that Rivera is arguably one of the greatest baseball players of all time; so much of the love and respect that he has earned came from who he was off the field. One of the most philanthropic people to ever play the game, Mo did it right. He was a good man whose main concern was doing well for others and keeping people happy. There is no stat in baseball for going about your career in the right manner, but if there was, Mo would have been a perennial MVP candidate.
The storied career of Mariano Rivera possibly ending the way it did would be like shutting the TV off with 20 minutes left of The Godfather. Nobody knew that the April 30th appearance against the Baltimore Orioles, which featured a vintage cutter-induced broken bat, would quite possibly be the last save we would ever see Mo collect. If we did, however, it would have been treated as a historical event. SportsCenter would have run specials for a week leading up to the game. Ticket prices would have rivaled those seen in late October. DVRs across the world would be set to record the final showing of precision and power that is Mariano Rivera’s pitching style. But unfortunately, nobody knew that yesterday’s pre game warm ups in Kansas City would bring the potential end to one of the greatest careers in sports history.
For the past 17 years, Mariano has been as consistent a part of my generation’s childhood as anything. Not once did he finish first for the MVP voting, but anybody with any inkling of sports knowledge can tell you that the greatest franchise over the last 20 years would not have been the team it was if number 42 wasn’t jogging out of the bullpen in the 9th inning. So if this really is the end of the great Mariano, we should consider ourselves lucky to have witnessed live the career of baseball’s most dominant closer and one of its greatest men. Baseball fans hope and pray that Mariano can bounce back from this injury and pitch once again, and if anybody can do it, it’s him. But if that isn’t the case, the only thing we can say to the greatest of all time is thank you for all the memories and the demonstrations of how to be a good person.
KFC editor’s note: Remind me to have Pizza Boy write my obituary when I die. Jesus Christ Strasser.