It seemed like a Twitter hoax.
You’ve seen the silly things that trend on social media. Everything needs to be vetted properly in 2012 and this just had the feel of one of those dumb things that some knucklehead made up on the fly.
And then the video appeared. On the fly, indeed.
Mariano Rivera, the only active player to wear the number 42 on the field of play, ended his career before the game against Kansas City started on Thursday night. He wasn’t pitching a simulated game or even warming up in a side session in the bullpen. Rivera did what we’d all like to do in batting practice. He was just shagging balls. Simple as that.
Baseball’s lengthy list of freak injuries read longer than one of those “Who’s Who” books they try to sell you in high school. Weird stuff happens. It’s just hard to believe that a sure-fire Hall of Fame pitcher would suffer such a cruel fate to end his legacy.
Rivera could become the first player in the history of baseball to receive 100% entry into Cooperstown. (Tom Seaver & Nolan Ryan hold the record with 98.8% of the vote on their first ballot.) He’s the all-time leader in saves with 608 in his 18 year career. The 12-time All-Star helped the New York Yankees win five World Series Championships. He’s one of two closers to win the World Series MVP, setting up John Wetteland when he won his award.
When I think of Mariano, two moments instantly pop into my head. Two blown saves by the great Yankees closer. He blew Game Seven of the 2001 World Series in Phoenix when the Arizona Diamondbacks won a wonderful series against the Yankees. He also started the run of the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS. Mo didn’t get credit for the loss in that game – as the Red Sox walked it off in the 12th – but he couldn’t put the final nail in Boston.
And that brings us back to a May game in Kansas City. A game that the Royals needed a high pressure save from Jonathan Broxton that will all be forgotten. At the same time Broxton preserved a one-run win for the Royals (their first at home this season), the all-time great Yankee got a MRI that will likely end his career. It’s a cruel, fascinating game.