As Mariano Rivera embraced Andy Pettitte and then Derek Jeter on the mound in the ninth inning Thursday night, we were reminded of what matters most in baseball-the love that is shared by the New York Yankees family.
Mo entered in the eighth with the Yankees down 4-0, but all that mattered was the four outs that he recorded in his final appearance at Yankee Stadium.
“They both came to get me out, and I was thankful they came out,” said Rivera.
Manager Joe Girardi, who sent Pettitte and Jeter to the mound, was thankful for all Rivera has done. “He made my job fun. He made my job easy,” Girardi said with watery eyes in the post game press conference. “But probably more important than that, he made our lives better. We’re going to miss him.”
And everyone in the stadium was on their feet. In the stands, both dugouts, the bullpen, no one wanted to miss the chance to show their respect and appreciation. They cheered as Rivera headed to the dugout. They cheered as he came out again for a curtain call. They cheered after the game when he went to the mound for the last time to straddle the rubber and gather some dirt as a keepsake.
“I wanted to get some dirt and stand there for the last time, knowing I’m not going to be there no more, especially pitching,” he said. “Competing, I won’t be there no more. That little time that I was there was special for me. Just me alone.”
Oh, and yes the Tampa Bay Rays pushed across four runs before Rivera came in. And yes the Yankees mounted an eighth inning surge that came up empty to try to bail out Ivan Nova, who gave up only two runs in seven innings. But none of that mattered.
The thing that matters most in baseball is the New York Yankees family. Ruth , Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jeter, Pettitte, Rivera and so many more. And of course, that family includes you and me. And February is right around the corner.
Being a member of the Yankees family is special. As Mo says, “I wouldn’t call it magical, I call it blessed.”