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Big League Stew

Mariano Rivera throws first pitch before Yankees-Mets game — classy or corny?

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

The Mariano Rivera farewell tour motors on, now in unfamiliar territory in a very familiar city. Mo's New York Yankees are playing the cross-city rival New York Mets for baseball's interleague rivalry week. Tuesday marks Rivera's final regular season game at Citi Field.

Like every other opposing home team, the Mets are honoring Rivera as he gets closer to retirement. They presented Rivera with a fire hose nozzle and declared him the "ultimate fireman" — a baseball reference that's a bit murky in a city where FDNY has reached hero status. We'll save that debate for another day, though, because the Mets' other gift for Rivera is also questionable.

The Mets asked Mo to throw out the first pitch of Tuesday's game. It's a fitting role-reversal in a way — a guy who's known for throwing the final pitch, now throwing the first one. The idea mirrors the petition to allow Rivera to start this year's All-Star Game. Rivera accepted the Mets' first-pitch offer and it was announced he'd throw the pitch to another iconic closer, John Franco, a Mets Hall of Famer.

The pairing is cool, but does Mariano Rivera, first-pitch thrower rub anybody the wrong way? It seems kind of ... well, corny. Any number of people throw out the first pitch at an MLB game, from distinguished members of the community to Lil Jon. It's not exactly the most prestigious thing, but it does usually revolve around playing up to the home fans. Lil Jon, for instance, isn't from L.A., but he'll throw on a Dodgers jersey and cap when the invite him to come toss the ball.

[Related: Report: Mets gouge Yankees families on tickets]

Mariano Rivera isn't the most endearing figure to Mets fans — so to some this has gotta be like letting an enemy eat at your dinner table. Rivera had two saves against the Mets in the 2000 World Series, including in the series-clinching Game 5. And no matter how much of a class act he is, he's a reminder that the Yankees have had it better than the Mets for years now.

The point of Rivera's farewell tour is about letting bygones be bygones and honoring baseball's all-time saves leader, even in hostile territory. So we'll turn the question over to you, oh wise commenters. Is it corny or classy for the Mets to ask Mariano Rivera to throw out the first pitch?

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