And you know what? None of that matters. Not one bit.
Yes, a win for Pettitte and save for Rivera would have been nice – the perfect ending that Yankees fans have grown accustomed to during the past 18 years. The pinstripe faithful may have to get used to disappointment for the next couple of seasons, but it doesn’t matter that the storybook ending didn’t happen.
Today was about honoring and thanking two men who have come through for the Yankees time and time again. And though the result wasn’t ideal, both Pettitte and Rivera pitched phenomenally.
Pettitte was perfect through four innings and had a no-hitter through 5.1. He only allowed two hits over seven innings pitched with a walk and six strikeouts. He rose to the occasion just as he has so many times before in his career. He pitched his heart out, and that’s why we love him – and the crowd let him know it.
I was lucky enough to be at the game in person. I rooted hard for the Yankees to win not only for their playoff hopes, but more so for Pettitte. He deserved the win, but the offense let him down. The day was dedicated to Mariano, but Pettitte rightfully had his moment.
Mariano then showed why he’s the greatest — and then some. He got five outs, extinguishing the fire in the eighth inning and dominating in the ninth. I’m sure he would have liked to enter the game under better circumstances, but his team needed him and he did what he’s done best for more than a decade.
There is no need for me to list Rivera’s accomplishments, but I will say that despite the weak live version of “Enter Sandman”, watching Rivera walk in from the bullpen might have been the best part of the ceremony. He strolled across the grass as if he was in Central Park, a man who remains humble in spite of all his success.
Indeed, the only thing that rivals the greatness of Rivera’s pitching ability is his humility. There is no sense of entitlement with Rivera. He didn’t ask for any of the gifts he has received this season or expect any ceremonies in his honor – but he does deserve them.
What sets Pettitte and Rivera apart from other pitchers that is they have an innate ability to sense the grandeur of the moment, and they step up their play accordingly. They live for big games and they have thrived in them.
Every time I’ve heard someone say, “the Dynasty years are over,” or “the Empire is done”, I used to brush it off as wishful thinking of another team’s fans. But seeing Pettitte walk off the mound for the last time in Yankee Stadium, I must admit now that an era is ending.
It’s really sinking in just how special these players and these teams were. To Pettite, Rivera and all the other players I grew up watching, all I can say is thank you.