Honoring Mariano Rivera: The New York Post's River Avenue name change proposal

Jared Wickerham

Even though it is against the policy of New York City, the Post wants the mayor to allow a change for Yankee Stadium to sit at the corner of 161st and Rivera Avenue.

The 2013 Yankees' season appears as though it will end in September instead of October or November this year, which is disappointing in and of itself, but an added element makes this year's failure to reach the postseason even harder to swallow. Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer the Major League Baseball has ever seen, will not get to close out his Hall of Fame career with another trip to the playoffs, a place where he has thrived for so many years, barring a miracle over the last few days of the season.

Rivera will get the biggest tribute in a season full of tributes on Sunday at Yankee Stadium before the series finale with the San Francisco Giants. Metallica just so happens to be playing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem the night before Rivera is to be honored at the Stadium, so draw your own conclusions from there as to what may be in store. All that fanfare for a man who has been nothing but humble his entire career, and probably his entire life, may be more than the retiring closer bargained for, but the New York Post has proposed an idea to honor Rivera that would leave a permanent mark on the area surrounding Yankee Stadium.

Mike Vacarro proposes that New York City change the name of River Avenue to Rivera Avenue in honor of Mo and his great career. The street name is hardly sentimental to much of anyone, merely signifying the presence of the nearby Harlem River to the Stadium. Unfortunately, New York City only entertains the idea of renaming streets in honor of people who have had significant impact on New York City and have passed away. Rivera obviously does not meet the latter requirement. Exceptions have been made before (Willie Mays and Ed Koch were both honored while still living) and Vacarro would like to see another made in this instance.

The fact is that Vacarro's request is probably a long shot. Rivera will certainly go down in history as baseball's greatest closer and have his place among the game's very best, but would the city go so far as to rename a street for him when Babe Ruth, Lou Gerig, Joe DiMaggio, among others, have never been honored that way. That doesn't mean that it should prevent Rivera or Derek Jeter or another great player in the future from being honored, it just means that there hasn't really been any precedent for renaming a New York City street around Yankee Stadium for amazing ballplayers the way that other teams in other cities have done. Should Rivera be the first to break that trend?

Renaming River Avenue would have to be proposed by the City Council and eventually signed by the mayor to actually happen. The fact is that Rivera has meant a significant amount to the team and its fans over the course of his career and it would be nice to send him off with a meaningful token that won't be lost in a sea of other tokens in time. The Twins provided him with a rocking chair constructed of broken baseball bats, but the Yankees can have the street that their ballpark sits on named after a player universally respected by players and fans alike.

A few Yankees players, namely Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia, are fully behind the River Avenue name change. Rivera, himself, even said that he thought it would be nice to have that honor bestowed upon him. If you agree with the proposed change, you can even sign a petition of support for the name change if you feel inclined to do so. If Mo wants a street named for him then I'm all for getting a street named for him. It's difficult to argue that it wouldn't be cool to head to the Stadium on the corner of Rivera Avenue and Jeter Street, when 161st is inevitably renamed for the Captain upon his retirement if Rivera takes over River Ave. That isn't too much to ask, now is it?

Do you think that the City should rename River Avenue in honor of Mariano Rivera? Is there another tribute you'd prefer to see instead?

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