Sunday, September 22, 2013

Exit Sandman

Today the New York Yankees retired the number 42 forever.  Major League Baseball already retired 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson in 1997.  However, only one player was left using the number, Mariano Rivera. 
Rivera has been a New York Yankee for all of his career and is the best closer the game has ever had.  A closer is a bullpen pitcher who teams use to end a game. 

Rivera's career began in humble beginnings in Panama where he played using gloves made of milk cartons, baseballs made of a ball of tape and broom sticks as bats.  His father was a fisherman who could not afford much.  However, he saved enough to buy Mariano a glove which Mariano held with great esteem that he even slept with it under his pillow. 

When scouted, not much was seen in the young Mariano.  Scouts believed he was not minor league baseball material, however that would change.  He was signed for $3,000 and began his career in the Yankee's minor league farm systems.  While there, he would bond with three other players who he would eventually win world series championships with in 1996, 1998, 1998, 2000 and 2009.  These players would be Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte and would be forever named as the "4 core.'

In the mid 90's, Rivera would be called up and his career would flourish from there.  His control and use of the famous "cutter" made him a formidable presence on the pitcher's mound.  Batters did not want to face him because the outcome would be a strikeout.  This era is now coming to an end in 2013.  Mariano Rivera announced that 2013 would be his final year.  He would retire.  Andy Pettitte as well decided to retired making Jeter the only one left from the 'core 4.' 

Prior to today's game against the San Francisco Giants, the Yankees held a ceremony for Mariano Rivera.
They unveiled a plaque in honor of Jackie Robinson's 42 as well as Mariano's 42 at Monument Park.  Both will forever be memorialized along with the greats such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and so on. 
At the ceremony were his former teammates, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Joe Torre, Dave Cone, Paul O' Neil and others.  Rivera was given many gifts and the rock band Metallic even played live the song "Enter Sandman" which is used as Mariano's entrance song.  The entire ceremony was well planned and was full of electricity and emotion.

Mariano spoke and thanked the Good Lord for his success.  He thanked his family, the Steinbrenners, the Yankees, the fans and all those who he felt helped him reached the success that he has now.  The president of Panama was also present.

Mariano Rivera is a true class act, always remaining humble and not bashful about his faith in Christ Jesus.  On his glove, he has Philippians 4:13 stitched onto it which says that "I can do anything in Christ who strengthens me."  One of the broadcasters on the Yes Network mistakenly said "Philistines" instead of Philippians.  The verse was also placed on the plaques memorializing him.

Mariano Rivera will be truly missed, not only by Yankee fans, but all baseball fans.  He never got into a fight, nor had any drama with other players or involved in drug criminal activities.  He is a clean, modest player who is a great role model for the youth.  He even has a foundation that helps poor children and communities by funding educational programs whether secular or religious. 

I was a kid when he debut and grew up watching him play and win.  Things will be so different without him.  May God bless Mariano Rivera and his family.  Thank you for the great memories at both the old and new Yankee Stadium.  You will be missed!


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