It’s never easy to give props to one of your fiercest rivals, but no one transcends the game of baseball quite like Mariano Rivera.
Sure, my favorite “Mo”ments (I’ll see myself out) involve Luis Gonzalez and Matt Franco, but I can also give credit where credit is due.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Rivera, who will retire at season’s end, is putting a twist on his farewell tour.
Rather than merely being honored by each team as he visits their stadium for the last time, the altruistic Rivera is spending time getting to know folks behind the scenes at each venue – employees who make the entire production of a baseball game possible, die-hard fans and others who love the game as much as he does, but rarely, if ever, get the spotlight.
I was fortunate to cover Chipper Jones’ final visit to Wrigley Field last year, where the Cubs presented him with the Atlanta Braves flag that flies above the center field scoreboard at the Friendly Confines.
Much like Chipper and his career .309/49/159 line against the Mets, I’ve gained a healthy respect for players who dominate you, but go about it with dignity.
Reading up on how Rivera is handling his final go-round elevates him to a whole new level.
Mariano is the epitome of class, and after enduring what some thought was a career-ending injury last season, you can’t help but root for the all-time saves leader to have a huge year. Sorry, but I can’t go so far as to hope for a sixth ring. He’s got enough of those.
If Rivera hasn’t won you over already, he’ll be coming to a city near you soon – he just might do it then.