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Strangers On The Field

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It’s been a sad season so far, with the Yankees decimated by injury. Though a bunch of strangers took over and did well for them at first, last week the Mets sweptYankeelogothem, and this week it was the Oakland A’s. One by one the injured players re-join the team, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. Yesterday’s final in the A’s series sweep went 18 innings, ending when A’s batter Nate Freiman hit Mariano’s cutter–a rare occurrence.

Mariano Rivera throws a pitch against the Balt...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the brighter side, Mariano Rivera is making the most of his Swan Song, and apparently enjoying himself enormously. He’s designed a final season unprecedented in baseball history, and unimagined by anyone else. Rivera is going out by making the rounds of Major League Baseball full of surprises and gifts along the way. He delivered pizza to the administrative offices at the Oakland Coliseum–A’s staff was stunned to see him come walking in with their dinner, and he stayed for pictures and chat. At another park he spent almost an hour talking to a bunch of kids before a game, and he’s been visiting workers in baseball all around the country–those who, with little fanfare or ceremony, do their jobs invisibly, without whom baseball couldn’t happen at all, at least not on the scale and in the way to which we’re all accustomed. The papers call them “the little people.” Mariano calls them friends.

It does not matter if you are not a fan of the New York Yankees or myself,” Rivera tells them. “You are fans of baseball. And that’s important.” Each night at Coors Field, even in rain, he would stand on the outfield side of the Rockies’ dugout, signing autographs for nearly an hour for the fans who were stunned to see a superstar so approachable.”They are the people we play the game for,” Rivera said. “They are the reason we are here.”

Not only is Rivera showing his gratitude towards those who keep baseball going–rival teams are presenting him with all kinds of farewell gifts and honors. In Cleveland, the Indians and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame combined to present Rivera with a framed gold record of Metallica’sEnter Sandman,” his entry song at Yankee Stadium for nearly two decades. The A’s donated $10,000 to the Mariano Rivera Foundation, which primarily funds projects for youth, many of these in Panama, his homeland. Most recently the Foundation furnished computers for underprivileged schoolchildren

In the past Rivera’s given generously to his family and his home town in Panama, La Chorrea. He says he never forgets where he came from.

Last year, when Rivera tore his right knee, he swore he’d come back to play again, that he wouldn’t go out in such an undignified way. And he did, he came back in 2013 to orchestrate a farewell tour as elegant as any Last Waltz. I’m going to miss Rivera–an understatement.

Too bad his last waltz is being danced by Strangers On the Field (song in progress) and Kevin YouKillUs, as I call him.

To the tune of “You Send Me”–take it away:

Kevin, You Kill Us
Boston sent you to kill us.
I know you will kill us.
You already did, already did, already did,
wo wo oh no!

And the Yankees soldier on.

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One response »

  1. Mariano can always deliver pizza in his retirement. Maybe we’ll see him strolling the stands at the stadium shouting PIZZA

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