When I came up with the concept of “Turing the Page”, the basic idea for the column was to give you an avenue through which I would look ahead to upcoming events in sports or culture for that matter.
With the MLB postseason a mere few days away and my Red Sox having clinched the division for the first time in six years, I expected to want to write about the phenomenal regular season I have had with this collection of unshaven, misbehaving bunch, but I fould myself at a loss for words, and as you can imagine, that doesn’t happen much.
Something else has been weighing on my mind, and it has to do with the last player in Baseball history to wear Jackie Robinson’s famous No. 42 — Mariano “the Sandman” Rivera. There are two reasons that the all-time great has been on my mind. One of them is an overall positive and the other is a total negative that absolutely confounds me.
First, as a Red Sox fan, I am sad to see the great Mo hang up his cleats. He was always the most classy individual on the baseball diamond. He never showed anybody up. Mo went about his business with a certain confidence that he didn’t need to show you up. In an era of elaborate celebrations from a guy who just pitched one-ninth of a baseball game, Mo ended every save with a cool high five and a sigh of relief.
Other closers have fained intimidation, the Giants’ Brian WIlson had the now-infamous “beard” and former Red Sox great Jonathan Papelbon was famous for pursing his lips and taking about a year and a half to deliver a pitch, but Mo never needed to do that. He was a humble man from Panama who realized not only how good he was, but how lucky he was to have his job — a job he would hold for 19 seasons.
Red Sox fans love to hate the Yankees, but there have been two or maybe three guys over the past 20 years that have gained the ultimate respect from the Nation, and one of them is the Sandman. I will miss Mo for two reasons — his greatness, and the fact that for the last 10 years or so, we have pretty much owned him.
What has me upset is not Rivera’s timing or the fact that he’s leaving, but my grudge is with MLB. When the league first came up with the idea for a daily interleague game, I was in favor of it, because it’s nice to see different teams get the opportunity to play your team. However, MLB should have changed its mind on this particular matchup. Instead of Rivera ending his career in the new Yankee Stadium, a house he helped build, against a team he has faced more than any other (cough, cough Boston, cough, cough) in front of 60,000 people, he is forced to spend the weekend in baseball’s equivalent to the middle of nowhere — Houston.
The Astros played a game recently that went head-to-head with the NFL’s Sunday games and received a TV rating of 0. Nobody watched. No-bod-y. Rivera may very well have a save chance on Sunday, his last of a career amassing more than 600, and that save would come against one of the most destitute baseball cities ever known to Man. The second Rivera said he was retiring, which was all the way back in February, MLB should have changed this for everyone’s sake. Instead, Mo will be forced to close the door in front of maybe 20,000 people in a city that means nothing to his personal history.
With that being said, I am sad to see Mo go. It’s truly the end of an era of class and dominance for New Yorks No. 1 baseball team. Jeter is one foot out the door, and the great Rivera will no longer don the pinstripes. I can’t say I’m going to miss the heartbreak of watching them dance in the postseason, but the drama of a Red Sox-Yankees playoff game will probably never be the same.