Mariano Rivera received a first-class sendoff at Yankee stadium on Thursday night. On Saturday, the Yankees legend announced that he's "done" and won't be taking the field this weekend in Houston, ensuring that his emotional walk from the mound will be the final image we see of Rivera as an active player.
“I’m done, guys. I’m done. I gave everything that I have,” Rivera said. “I think Thursday was the game that I left everything on the field.”
The message was just that simple, though we did learn that Rivera hasn't been 100 percent healthy down the stretch of his final season.
Mariano Rivera revealed that he was pitching down the stretch with "tremendous soreness" in his forearm.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) September 28, 2013
Not surprisingly, Rivera gave us no verbal indication that he was struggling through forearm pain, but there was a stretch through August and September where he clearly wasn't himself. The fact that he continued to gut it out says all you really need to know about Rivera as a competitor. He was going to get to the finish line, and if the Yankees were in the postseason, you can bet he would have continued pushing.
But even without the pain, this feels like the right way for Rivera to go out. Until Thursday's send-off, the idea of him pitching one last time in Houston or even playing center field for one inning sounded fine. But once Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter came to the mound and we finally saw Rivera succumb to his emotions, that all changed. That was the moment to end it on, and it's apparent Rivera realized it as well.
“I know it was the perfect moment. It was something I would have never expected,” Rivera said, adding, “I think I squeezed every ounce of fuel out of my tank. It is empty. I have nothing left.”
It's disappointing for the fans in Houston, and even those who may have traveled a greater distance to catch his final appearance. But the perfect ending had already been written. There was no turning back.