Last night the greatest closer of all time made his final appearance at the big ballpark in the Bronx, Yankee Stadium. If there is one thing that the Yankees do well it is celebrations and grand spectacles. They can't assembly a very good line-up lately, but celebrations we do very very well, and last night was absolutely perfect.
Mariano Rivera came out, surprisingly and appropriately, to the voice of Yankee Stadium, Bob Sheppard, who passed away several years ago, and then he ran in with the now very familiar strains of Enter Sandman playing. Credit to the Tampa Bay Rays for not only coming out to cheer Mariano, but later also waiting to take the field so that Andy Pettitte could come out and receive the fans ovation, very classy act on their part.
Rivera was then his usual efficient self in retiring his first four batters. Mo has not been vintage Mo this year, but this was, and then Joe Girardi sent Andy Petite and Derek Jeter out with only two outs in the ninth so that the crowd could truly give Mo their appreciation, and the waterworks began. Not just on the field, but in my house as well.
I have trouble saying that the only reason that the Yankees won 5 championships over the past 19 years in because of Mo, I think lots of other players, like Jeter and Andy, played significant roles and cannot be underestimated, but Mo is certainly one of the primary reasons. He will be impossible to replace. Closers have come and again during his time. MLB is litered with them, some of them blazing across the sky and then disappearing in a couple of seasons. And yet Mo has always been there, and now he is not, or at least he won't be after Sunday.
Some day I am going to write a book about baseball (just what the world really needs), and my final chapter will be about Mariano and in particular the way he responded to reporters and the world after blowing a save in the bottom of the ninth of game seven of the 2001 World Series. Truly a class act all around and I will miss him.
I tried to embed the videos, but for some reason they are not working. You can see them by going here and here.