It's no secret that I am a die-hard fan of the Texas Rangers who I have followed since the 1985 season. I have spent the majority of my life living in Arlington, Texas and therefore I have plenty of knowledge and experience when it comes to the history of the Rangers. But I am also a fan and historian of the great game of baseball so I grew up with mixed feelings when it came to the New York Yankees.
As a fan of the game itself I love the tradition of the Yankees and the players that have come and gone through the organization such as Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson, Bill Dickey, Phil Rizzuto, Thurman Munson, Whitey Ford, Don Mattingly and the one and only Babe Ruth.
As a fan of the Rangers I will admit that I grew a dislike for the modern Yankees as they knocked my favorite team out of the playoffs in the first round in 1996, 1998 and 1999. For several years the Rangers had to deal with being overmatched by a Yankee organization that year-in and year-out was always a part of the playoff pitcher. I grew to loathe players such as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeria who seemed to be nothing more than overpaid prima donnas though I learned to respect one man and that was Mariano Rivera.
I hated close games with the Yankees because I knew that Rivera would come in and shut Texas down as he did with every team he faced. In fact he has saved 608 games which is the most ever in the history of the game. He is the greatest closer that baseball has ever seen and I don't think there will ever be someone as dominant as he was in the near future or ever. He is just that good.
So that brings me to May 4th, 2012, and a day that will forever be remembered in baseball history. Mariano Rivera, who was in his final year of a storied career, was shagging fly balls during batting practice when he twisted his knee and was later diagnosed with a torn ACL which has ended his season and possibly his career a bit prematurely.
I hate the thought of such a great guy having his career ended on such a fluke injury. It actually hurts and saddens me. He deserves better than this. If his career is truly over then I hope the Yankees can figure out a way to let him leave the game on his own terms. Let him come out in the ninth inning to throw one pitch, let him tip his hat to the home crowd and then let him walk off the mound doing what he has always loved to do. It would a better ending to his career than a press conference. He deserves it. Yankees fans derserve it. Baseball deserves it.
Now while my Rangers no longer fear the Yankees, especially after the 2010 ALCS, I can say that I will miss seeing Rivera take the mound as he tries to save one more game. He was one of the things that was so right about baseball.
And he will be missed.
Until next time, I'll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He is also a contributing writer for shutdowninning.com and the senior writer and founder of clawandantlernation.com as well as a member of SABR. You can follow him on Twitter where he waxes poetic about all things baseball @SDIJamesHolland
- Sports & Recreation
- Mariano Rivera
- Texas Rangers