An unfitting end to Mariano Rivera’s career?

While it’s well-known that I’m a political junkie, what many folks don’t know is I’m just as equally a sports junkie. Baseball has long been my favorite sport, and while I am a fan of the hometown Milwaukee Brewers, I’m also a huge fan of the New York Yankees.

One of the reasons that I became a fan of the Yankees was because of that organization’s long history, not to mention the truly legendary players that have worn pinstripes. Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Don Mattingly, and Derek Jeter are just a few of the stars in the Yankees universe, along with Mariano “Mo” Rivera, a pitcher many consider to be the greatest relief pitcher (and possibly one of the greatest pitchers period) of all time.

This season was supposed to be the last for the 42-year old star closer, and while I had hoped Rivera would go out on top (perhaps pitching the ninth inning in game seven of the World Series), it appears Rivera’s career will end on the warning track of Kauffman Stadium before a meaningless May game.

Pitchers will play games shagging fly balls, assigning points for good catches, and it’s all fun and games until someone tears an ACL. It was so benign, too. Jayson Nix, a journeyman called up hours earlier, lifted a fly ball toward the track. Rivera retreated, leapt and crumbled.

“Oh my god,” Alex Rodriguez, standing next to the batting cage, said on video shown by the YES Network. “Oh my god.”

Girardi ran toward the outfield. Bullpen coach Mike Harkey whistled for help. Girardi and Harkey lifted Rivera onto a cart that whisked him away, his body and affect limp. Initial tests in the clubhouse gave Girardi hope no ligaments had blown. On the bench, Rivera’s teammates kept asking for updates. Finally, one arrived: torn ACL, torn meniscus, each to be verified by doctors in New York, both almost a certainty to be so.

Nobody pictured Mariano Rivera’s season ending like this.

“It’s bad,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. “It’s bad.”

While this was supposed to be Mariano Rivera’s last season in baseball, I hope he’ll consider making a comeback for one more season, because he deserves a proper send-off.


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