- Last Updated: 12:29 AM, May 5, 2012
- Posted: May 05, 2012
In one stunning moment in Kansas City on Thursday, the career of one of the greatest pitchers in modern baseball history likely came to a freakish end: Future Hall of Fame reliever Mariano Rivera, shagging batting-practice balls in the outfield, crumpled to the ground with a wrecked knee.
Torn ligaments aren’t automatic career-killers, but the Yankee legend had already hinted 2012 would be his last season.
True, Rivera insisted yesterday that he’ll be back: “Write it down in big letters. I’m not going out like this.”
But he’s 42, and sometimes numbers speak more loudly than words.
Rivera’s other numbers, of course, also speak emphatically for themselves: a major-league record 608 regular-season saves, plus 42 more in the postseason.
He’s human, of course: Recall the infield hit (following an uncharacteristic error) he gave up to Luis Gonzalez that handed the 2001 World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But even then Rivera showed the same even temperament and quiet dignity that marked his victories.
It goes without saying that Rivera’s contributions made the late-’90s Yankees dynasty possible.
The Yankees of the past near-two decades have generally exuded excellence, class and professionalism. And Rivera’s been the class of a team of class acts.
And if he never again takes the mound, New Yorkers today can be thankful that they saw one of the finest athletes — indeed, arguably, one of the finest men — ever to play in their city.
The best to you, Mo.Follow @NYPostOpinion