Everybody wants the hero the ride off into the proverbial sunset on top. It’s what we are conditioned to expect. So when the story deviates from that path, it’s upsetting; we feel cheated like the story we defaulted to expect was stolen from us. That’s the case of what apparently is happening with Mariano Rivera. And it sucks, royally.
See, this isn’t how this was supposed to go. It was hard enough to accept the fact that he was leaning heavily towards leaving on his own terms already. Mostly, it’s been difficult because there really is no evident point that he should quit. He is just as dominant today as he was when he first showed up, as astonishingly good 8th inning guy in front of John Wetteland. Then, in year two, he ascended to the throne and rebuilt the crown, not only becoming an elite closer, but setting the absolute standard for the position forever. Now, there are folks that are “The Mo Rivera of _______”; that type of amazing.
He has stayed at the top of the game so long for his remarkable resistance to injury. So to see him fall due to one just doesn’t seem right. For me, it feels far worse than the “cheating” that the steroid era guys did even. Mostly because nobody has done it more pure than Rivera has. He’s a throwback that’s ahead of his time as well. He’s throws at a low speed in high speed times. He thrives with one pitch in a time where the average arsenal has expanded to at least four. He’s one of the last of those that will ever wear number 42 on any jersey outside Jackie Robinson day. And most importantly, every time closed out a ninth inning, at any part of the season, he set a new all-time record for the future.
But what’s to come of that now? A torn ACL, in batting practice in the American League no less, has taken out the greatest pitcher of his era. That’s not a hero’s death, that’s not how he goes out. He’s supposed to walk off the mound in Yankee Stadium in October after getting his cyborg on one more time and making an impossible escape look like Kindergarten level work. He should be carried off the field on teammate’s shoulders, like when he set the all-time saves mark he was born to own, instead of hurried off in their arms holding his leg.
That’s life however. The day had to come, and it shall be what it is. You always have to remember the greats for what they did over what they do eventually. That’s what makes them great, that unforgettable air they leave behind. So if save 608 was the last time we see that mythical cutter live, so be it. The Legend will loom much larger than the shadow of its last day. It’s just a shame that last day had to run up on us all like it did.
For more on the plight of the Sandman and where the Yanks go from here, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.