By now, you’ve heard Mariano Rivera suffered an ACL injury and is out for the season. Rivera was going to call it quits after this season, but now says he’ll come back in 2013. He does not want his career to end on an injury. In the linked SI article, Rivera said:
“I’m coming back. Write it down in big letters. I’m not going out like this”
In that sense, it’s hard to blame him. Who wants to be carted off for a season before a May baseball game? Then again, what does Rivera have to prove? Absolutely nothing. Always a class act, always silently killing the opposition, always coming up big in the clutch, with a whole bunch of World Series titles.He could never play again and it wouldn’t matter…our opinion of him wouldn’t change.
Rivera is interesting because we will miss a guy like him but we won’t MISS him. Rivera does not have an outsized personality. A guy who excelled for such a long stretch of time; a player who was virtually invisible other than the biggest moments in the biggest games, a guy who was just so classy and loved by his teammates…won’t be missed because he didn’t promote himself except through that cutter. It says more about us than it does him.
Most sports lovers want to go back to that ’50’s image of a pro athlete…the guy who came from rural America and hadn’t been to the Big City before he took his first swings in the Stadium batter’s box. The guy who played for the love of the game instead of big money. That image is long past because it was pretty much fraudulent. Players back then smoked, drank a lot, occasionally took steroids and chased skirts big time. They had images created by the media who were largely enamoured with players and hanging out around them.It’s nice when we see guys who appear to be really good guys stick around as long as Rivera.
Rivera made big money, but there’s absolutely no indication he played for the money, if you know what I mean. Rivera appeared to be “normal” as a player could be, for a superstar.