My Tribute to Mo
Some would say last night was a perfect ending to a perfect career (well, as close it can be anyway). Others say it ended in an unworthy manner. The Yankees were playing their first meaningless home game that the franchise has seen since 1993. But although they were losing 4-0, and this roller coaster of a season is all but over, the only thing that mattered was the greatest of all time at his position, number 42, Mariano Rivera, was going to jog onto that field in the Bronx, glove in hand, for One. Last. Time.
Although, the entire season seemed to be one big parade for Mo, as a fan, it didn’t hit me or seem real at all until last night. For all I knew, #42 was going to be closing games for the Yankees for the rest of my life. I am 22 years old. Most would say I am a spoiled baseball fan, for having my favorite team go on one of the most dominant stretches any team has had in the history of sports. And they would be right. But I’m not the only one spoiled here. If you consider yourself a fan of baseball in any capacity, you too have been spoiled since 1995, having got to witness the development of greatness right before your eyes.
Let me say this: whosever idea it was to have Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte take out Mo in his final appearance at Yankee stadium deserves a pay raise. It was theater in real life. They also must have put a pretty penny on the money line for if Rivera was going to cry or not. How could he not get emotional? His two best friends, who he has been through everything with (Let’s just forget about Andy’s Astros stint, we know he wants to), were walking to the mound to take him out of his last appearance in front of the fans who he has had a love affair with for 24 years.
I lost my composure about the same time Mo did. Many people will say it’s stupid and childish to have such strong emotional attachment to a player or a team. But that’s just it. When I watch Mo, I feel like a kid again. He is one of only a few players left in all of sports that were around when my attachment to teams and players formed. So maybe I got emotional because the end of Mo’s career is really the end of the Yankee Dynasty that I grew up to love. Or maybe, it’s because in a world where professional athletes should not be looked up to as role models in my opinion, he is the shining star that puts that argument to rest. But really, I think it’s because moments like that verify to me why I sports so much. Why sports are what I think about right before I go to bed and first thing when I wake up in the morning. Why I have been an athlete my whole life. Why I can sickeningly remember the most random statistic or moment from a game but could not care less who won some battle or why some proof to an algorithm is what it is. Why I desperately need to be involved in sports in some aspect as my long term career path for me to be remotely happy.
So what the meaning and purpose of it all? Is it rings? Is it records? Is it simply adding commas to your net worth? For some, (who are we kidding), for many, it is. But not for Mo. Not for one of only a handful of men that can be called a GOAT. Because he has plenty of all of that. 5 rings, 652 saves, a World Series MVP, and just a grotesque 0.70 postseason ERA. He does it for the love of the game. He does it because it’s his JOB. Because it’s what he is SUPPOSED to do. And he did it with more dignity and class than who has come before him or anyone my generation will ever produce.
So why is everyone making a big deal about just another player ending his career? It’s because, to loosely quote a certain famous police commissioner, Mo Rivera is not the hero that baseball has anymore. That ended last night. But he is the hero that we deserved.