In the final home series of Mariano Rivera’s career, the New York Yankees got swept and didn’t give him a whiff of a chance to pick up a save.
Rivera hasn’t even gotten a save in Yankee Stadium since September 4. Regardless of the meaningfulness of the final game of the series, the fans in the ballpark stayed for the entire night, waiting to see Mo’s final appearance in the Bronx, randomly chanting his name, showing their appreciation for everything he has done over his illustrious career.
When he did finally come out of the Yankee Stadium bullpen in the top of the eighth, for the final time of his career, the crowd was electric as if he was trying to get a save in the ninth in the World Series.
The Yes Network didn’t go to commercial break during a pitcher warming up in relief for the first time that I can remember. The Rays’ players were on the top step of the dugout, clapping during his warm-ups, all the way through his six-pitch performance to get out of a jam with men on first and second and one out.
The admiration Rivera has received this year must be overwhelming for a man that usually gives all credit for his stellar career to God. It also must be humbling though; there is not one person in all of MLB that can say a negative word about the legendary closer. Mo loved all the gifts he received throughout the year, but values the contributions to his charity more — that is the only reason he would contemplate returning.
In an unexpected twist, with two outs in the ninth inning, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter came to the mound and embraced Mo. Rivera shed tears on the hill, and pulled the whole stadium to their feet.
In the most emotional goodbye I have ever seen on a baseball diamond, one has to think and remember all of the great times they’ve watched Rivera not just throw his signature cutter, but embody the essence of class on and off the field.
He exemplifies grace and dignity, and to see it come to an end is sombre, blissful, surprising — just about every type of emotion that can come to mind and cannot be written. To cap off the night, Mo took dirt from the mound, a chunk of soil he will never pitch on again in a major league game.
There is nobody who could possibly replace him, considering everything he has brought to the game of baseball. Enjoy being his possible heir, David Robertson.