9/27/13, "Mariano Rivera's Saving Grace,
" New York Times Editorial Board
"It might not have been the ending
Hollywood would have written — it
wasn’t the World Series, and the Yankees lost — but it was powerful
anyway. At the stadium on Thursday night
, Mariano Rivera, baseball’s greatest relief pitcher, said goodbye.
The Yankees, in their last home game
of the year, were trailing the
Tampa Bay Rays, 4-0. Rivera, the king of saves, was not going to get one
more. But he retired four batters, and with two outs in the ninth,
Manager Joe Girardi, in a neat gesture, sent Derek Jeter and Andy
Pettitte — two of Rivera’s teammates in some of the Yankees’ best years —
to the mound. Rivera handed the ball over and then buried his head in
Pettitte’s shoulder. For a long moment they stood still as the crowd
cheered and cheered.
Rivera was clearly overcome, but he, of all people, was not about to
lose it. He straightened up, smiled, gave his eyes a quick wipe, took
off his cap and saluted the fans.
Rivera’s triumphs — his unmatched records, his Hall of Fame future —
were the obvious reasons for the sellout crowd at an otherwise
meaningless late-September game. But the long, warm ovation was for more
than just a set of awe-inspiring statistics. Rivera is human and has
never been completely invulnerable. What makes him so remarkable is his
poise under pressure, his dignity in losing, his ability to put defeat
behind him and come back to win, again and again.
This is what Buster Olney wrote in The Times in 2001
when the Yankees lost the World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks, in
the ninth inning of Game 7, because Rivera had a bad night:
“Rivera answered questions quietly, politely, without regret; he had
broken bats on all three hits he allowed in the bottom of the ninth. ‘I
did everything I could,’ he said.”
Everything he could was,
in 19 Yankee seasons, more than enough to earn
the fans’ deep and lasting gratitude and admiration."