After a tough 2012, things are looking up for New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Not only has he pronounced himself "ready to go" for spring training after recovering from a torn ACL, but Rivera also has been named Man of the Year by the New York Board of Rabbis. It's a reward for Rivera's philanthropic work, much of which is done through his Pentecostal Christian church in Panama.
What a mensch!
Page 6 of the New York Post (of course) has the details, which include Rivera's prize: A 10-day, escorted tour of Israel, but not until the two "holy seasons" — baseball and the Jewish High Holidays — conclude. By then, Rivera also is expected to have retired from Major League Baseball. The 2013 season is a bonus for everybody because he was limited to nine appearances in '12 before blowing out his right knee May 3.
Rivera says he's ready to go, but what about the rest of the Yankees? I'm not sure if Rivera's assessment of the team is favorable or not:
He also addressed what lies ahead for his beleaguered squad, hampered by injuries to stars from Derek Jeter to Alex Rodriguez.
“We need a lot of prayer, and I pray a lot,” Mariano was overheard saying to a guest. “Our biggest competition is ourselves . . . You have to shed that ego at the door and all push for the same goal.” Of last year, he admitted, “The hitting wasn’t there, but pitching is the name of the game.”
A lot of prayer? Oy. The Yanks also could use some right-handed power and Phil Hughes to step it up over 32 starts. Another note from the event: Rivera feels nostalgic for something that's definitely not coming back:
“We want our old stadium back,” Rivera quipped. “The other stadium was better.”
I also wonder if he'll investigate the state of Israel's baseball program while he's over there...