The New York Yankees pulled out all of the stops for Mariano Rivera on Sunday, his final weekend home game at Yankee Stadium before retiring as season's end. The pageantry was awesome, the guest list was A-plus, and emotions ran their highest. Metallica performed. The Yankees retired Rivera's No. 42 and placed a plaque in Monument Park. Nearly every key person in Rivera's adult life came to enjoy the day with him.
The Yankees lost, falling 2-1 to the San Francisco Giants, but even if they had won with Andy Pettitte and Rivera on the mound, the most special part of the day was the most routine — one that fans at Yankee Stadium had seen so many times before.
Rivera's entrance, in the top of the eighth inning. Enter Sandman!
One of the neatest details that modern baseball offers is a player's entrance music. For at-bats, for coming in from the bullpen, whatever. Assigning a song to a guy is fun for everyone, especially when it's appropriate. Metallica might not be associated with Rivera's native Panama (unless troops played some when they were trying to drive out Manuel Noriega), but the rhythms and even some of the lyrics (speaking metaphorically) of "Enter Sandman" in their own way perfectly describe what Rivera does and how he does it.
Say your prayers. Exit light. Enter night. We're off to never-never land.
1-2-3 inning. Game over.
And here's Metallica playing live for Rivera, on his day:
Editor's note: An earlier version of this post said that the Yankees final game at home was Sunday. They play three more times at the Stadium this week.