It’s well known that the Yankees and Red Sox have been big-time rivals for years, but that didn’t stop the Red Sox from honoring the great Mariano Rivera before Sunday night’s game versus the Yankees.
Commemorating an incredible career, on the night that will likely go down as Rivera’s last game at Fenway Park, the Red Sox joined the list of teams that have given Rivera gifts throughout the season, in this his final year.
Nothing new, but the Red Sox’ ceremony might have been the most impressive of them all.
After a brief video was played, remembering October 17, 2004, when Rivera blew the game to the Red Sox — “less of a toast and more of a roast,” as Dave O’Brien put it — Rivera was given the following: A painting of himself, from David Ortiz; the number 42 sign that had been posted on the ‘green monster’ every time he made an appearance, from Dustin Pedroia, signed by the whole team; a blue 1934 Fenway Park seat with the number 42 on it, from Jon Lester; and the visiting bullpen’s pitching rubber, with an inscribed plaque, from Koji Uehara.
Perhaps none of these gifts were as great as the chair of broken dreams Rivera was given up in Minnesota earlier this season, but the Red Sox did one of the better jobs of paying tribute.
Rivera saw a lot of Fenway Park over the course of his Hall of fame career, pitching there in 60 games — more games than any visiting relief pitcher in the park’s history.
When you’re talking about a ballpark that’s over 100 years old, that alone makes you aware that Rivera is someone special. And therefore, with plans to retire after this season, it’s important to enjoy Rivera’s greatness in the little time that remains. Players of his caliber don’t come around too often.
However, stating that “hopefully it’s not the last time”, in response to playing at Fenway Park, Mariano continues to remain optimistic of the Yankees’ fate for the 2013 season. Though it’s going to take a lot for them to make the postseason, as the Red Sox swept them in their recent series, certainly not helping their cause any. But if there’s a team that can do it, I believe it’s the Yankees.
For Mariano Rivera’s sake, I hope they can.
One of those players that you never want to see retire, Rivera isn’t just the best closer the game has ever seen — the record holder for most saves, with 651 — he’s one of the best people the game has ever seen. Carrying himself with class everywhere he went, Rivera is well respected by baseball fans around the country — even fans of the Red Sox. The last player to wear the number 42, Mariano is truly a remarkable player and person.
Rivera has had his share of ups and downs this season, but overall it’s been another stellar year. Whether or not the Yankees can make the postseason, and eventually return to Fenway, is yet to be seen, but Rivera made sure his gratitude was known, saying, “I definitely appreciate what the Red Sox organization did. I will never forget that.”
And we will never forget Mariano Rivera — the greatest closer in baseball history.