Adios and vaya con dios, Mariano.
Mariano Rivera’s farewell tour has shown a human or even somewhat romantic side of sports and sports fans.
The emotional 2013 season has taken Rivera some places he may not ever return.
In every opposing park he visited this season, Rivera was greeted with a gift that represented the host city.
In Cleveland, (home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) he was given a gold record of Metallica’s, “Enter Sandman,” a song that Rivera has used as entrance music for most of his career.
He was also given some gifts which tip their proverbial cap to his career. The Minnesota Twins gave Mo a rocking chair made out of bats that were broken by members of the Twins that have faced Rivera over the years.
Rivera has established himself, over the past 19-years, as one of the best, if not the best closer of all time.
But the impression Mo has left on Major League Baseball extends beyond his achievements on the field. It takes the reserve and sincerity that very few men like Rivera have to get die-hard fans involved in a tense 100-year rivalry to throw down the swords and applaud the opposition.
You will very rarely see Fenway Park stand and cheer for an opposing player, especially not a Yankee. But last Sunday night, in Rivera’s final game in Boston, a half hour was set aside before the game to pay homage to one of the games greats.
I was a lot less impressed with the Red Sox gesture than I was the attitude of the fans towards a player like Rivera.
Some tears even streamed down from the faces of Sox fans in the crowd, while surrounded by signs that read “Thanks, Mo!” or, “Don’t Go, Mo!” The presentation on the field was as if it could be twisted into a way for the Red Sox to pat themselves on the back for the tremendous success they’ve had all season. They even found a way to applaud their own closer, Koji Uehara, say- ing he’s having a season similar to Rivera’s 19.
But a video tribute that was done by ESPN that showed some true “Sawx,” fans expressing their feelings toward one of the games greats.
“I hate him, but I love him,” was the consensus opinion among most of Red Sox nation that had been interviewed.
If it showed me anything as a fan of the game it’s that certain players have the ability to make you realize that the game itself reigns supreme over everything else.
This became clear on, “Mariano Rivera Day,” in the Bronx.
In 1997, the MLB retired the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.
In 2013, only one player remained in the league with the permission to wear that number. When Jackie’s widow Rachel and daughter Sharon were in attendance for the Yankee Stadium tribute, you got the sense that they were proud that 42 was able to live on through such an amazing person and player, rather than just being put to rest 16 years ago.
Amidst the live Metallica performance and parade of Yankee legends, this was the thing that stuck out for me.
The Yankees tribute to their hero also found a way to put the game above everything else.
As a Met fan and someone who has gone against the Yankees their entire life, I have too much respect for the game to keep myself from saying:
Thanks, Mo. We’re all going to miss you!
Gerard Gilberto is a senior journalism major from Staten Island, N.Y. He can be reached at gerard. firstname.lastname@example.org.