I Don’t Feel Bad For Mariano Rivera
Mariano Rivera. I’m going to say he is the best closer in the history of baseball. There was not a closer as dominant for as long a period of time as Mariano. As a Red Sox fan, that sucks. As a baseball fan, I have to tip my cap to him.
Last night when I saw he had taken an awkward fall while shagging balls in the outfield at Kauffman Stadium I didn’t think much of it until the next shot was of Yankees manager Joe Girardi running out to the outfield to see what was wrong. He was carted off the field and it is reported that he torn both his ACL and his miniscus. At the age of 42, it does not sound like he will be back this season and presumably ever again. So today I was reading the sports reporters takes on what happened, the injury was described by so many people as being this horrible thing, being a tragic event, now he won’t go out on his own terms. I see where people are going here, but I have a different take –
Mariano Rivera went largely uninjured for his entire career. A career spanning 18 years. Most major league players would give their first born child for the health Mariano has had through the years. His health combined with his cutter that was largely unhittable except for a blip in 2007 where his ERA spiked to (gasp) 3.15 (the only season where as a relief pitcher his ERA was above 3) made him a very wealthy man. At the end of last season he had made $144,441,825. He won 5 World Series rings. He played for one team his entire career and he will go down as one of the great Yankees of all-time. The man will never pay for a dinner in New York City for the rest of his life (though I’m pretty sure he will be spending his time at his compound in Panama)
I’m not saying I’m happy his career is ending this way, but I’m saying that it needs to be put into perspective. Does it suck for him, yes. But would he rather have had to battle back from a torn ACL when he was 30 and maybe never be the same pitcher he was beforehand, or would he rather it happen at 42, the end of his career, after the money has been deposited, the rings are in the vault, he is a first ballot hall of famer and his legacy will never be tarnished. I’m going to guess he, and the rest of the Yankee fans out there, will go with age 42.
Does it suck? Yes
Is it a tragedy? No
Junior Seau shooting himself in the chest is a tragedy. When Mariano’s two family members drown in a freak accident at his home, that was a tragedy. Children going to bed hungry tonight in the wealthiest country in the world is a tragedy.
Mariano’s injury is sports and it happens, it is a long, long way from tragic.
I will end with this, Mariano tore his ACL while shagging fly balls in centerfield during batting practice as he has done before every game of his career. Why? Because he enjoyed it. Because it kept him in shape. Because he was good at it. (The running joke that Mariano was the Yankees best centerfielder has long been a half truth) But in the end, he got hurt on a baseball field, doing what he loved. It was a bad break, but those happen. I would also like to remind everyone that if April 30th, against the Baltimore Orioles was Mariano’s last game – he got the save in a 2-1 game, in front of the home crowd.
Not a bad way to end a career.