In so many ways, baseball is more than just some game. Sure, even when it’s only May, records, standings, and stats matter. Even this early, insults are fired between fans of rival teams. And even this early when the Yankees look hopeless, I start to freak out. Sometimes I think I need to get my priorities in order…I mean what has gotten into me? I’ve been studying for finals over watching baseball? Something’s wrong there. This isn’t just some game – this is my life. Nothing should come between me and my Yanks. The few games I have been able to watch in their entirety, though, haven’t been too fun. Watching them lose is one thing, but watching them look lifeless at the plate and fail to hit with runners in scoring position is another. And watching the so-called solid starting rotation crumble before my eyes isn’t too enjoyable either. At least the bullpen is a strong point.
After my last day of classes of my first year in college on Thursday, I thought I would celebrate by watching a Yankee game and taking one night off from doing work. As soon as I put on the YES Network, I saw video clips of the Great Mariano Rivera crashing to the ground of the warning track in Kaufmann Stadium, desperately grasping his knee in pain.
All I could say was, “Great. Do I really curse them when I watch? WHY DO I BOTHER?” Initially, a “twisted knee” didn’t sound too bad. But witnessing a wincing Mariano being transported off the field was worrisome.
The night just got worse and worse.
Not only did I remember that I had a biology paper due online by 11:55pm that I had to do all in that night – the bad part was the Yankees made me want to do it. Instead of procrastinating by watching the Yankees win, I actually did my work. They weren’t playing well, and I missed their late inning comeback attempt because I was working. But it wasn’t enough to win.
A normal loss in May doesn’t make me cry. But after finding out the fate of the Great Mariano, it was tough to fight the tears. A torn knee ligament is not a twisted knee. Missing a year isn’t missing a few months. And going out on a medical transport vehicle is not going out on the mound at Yankee Stadium. It just isn’t right. It shouldn’t have ended this way. Oh, this game can be so cruel. It’s just like life – it’s not fair.
I couldn’t watch the postgame. I didn’t want to hear or see Mariano in a state like that. I tried to distract myself by working on my communications final project after doing the bio paper. I thought I would feel good about getting stuff done, but no. All I could think about was Mo. Mariano Rivera is probably the most important component of the Yankees I’ve grown up with. He’s the reason the Yankees have won 5 World Series in my lifetime. Rivera is a class act. I admire how honest, down-to-earth, and genuinely kind a man of his stature is. He is the epitome of what it means to be a Yankee: classy, successful, and above and beyond the rest. Rivera is the greatest of all his kind before, and will always be the greatest no matter how many players come and go, no matter how much time passes. He’s a legend in my life, and will continue to be so for generations to come. As long as this game is played, Mariano Rivera’s legacy will be admired.
Age doesn’t matter when you’re Mariano Rivera. At 42, he hasn’t declined a bit. His skills will not diminish – but his desire might. He’s at the age where many players decide to call it quits and devote themselves full time to their families. There was speculation that this would be his last season. But the injury made that seem definite. And that’s the saddest part. Mariano has been on top of the world for his whole career – he shouldn’t go out because something else made him. That’s a decision Mo should have been able to make when he wanted to.
That’s why I spent some time venting on facebook that night/early the next morning. Yankees fans – and baseball fans in general – were expressing their sympathies. Even Red Sox fans, who hours before may have been going at it with an enemy Yankees fan, admitted they felt sorry about it.
I was beginning to think 2012 was a lost cause for my Yankees. And I don’t care if they don’t win – I know you can’t win them all. It was just that I felt that the team was lacking something, like that fire or passion that makes the team worth watching. They already lost the excitement of watching a sensational rookie learn and grow on their team, and they lost something that was supposed to be great that they received in exchange for that rookie. The offense didn’t seem strong, and neither did the rotation (making the pain of that trade sting more and more). But the bullpen was supposed to be the one thing the Yankee surely had going for them. Losing Mo, especially in such a heartbreaking way, could only destroy the morale and ability of my team - and myself as a fan - even more.
But then again, it is early. Standings and stats really shouldn’t matter in May. This silly game has a long way to go. No need to worry myself off the Dean’s List yet, right? Have a little faith, girl.
Things seemed to turn around the next day.
“BIG LETTERS,” Mo says.
Oh yeah. It’s official.
“I'm not going down like this. God willing and given the strength, I'm coming back,” declared the Great Mariano.
Just like that, the fire was back. My boys looked good last night. They won due to some good hitting, quality starting pitching, and dominant closing by David Robertson. Maybe we can hold on to this hotness and win some ballgames. At this point, a lot of things can get better for this team. I think the tides will start turning now.
This game is crazy. Thank God Mariano Rivera is in better spirits. I’ll continue to send my prayers his way.
God Bless you Mariano Rivera. I seriously can’t imagine what I’d do without you.
Hopefully I don’t have to think about that for many more years.
by Virginia Califano