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Yanks Lose Their Swagger Without Mariano



By Russ Cress ~ May 4th, 2012. Filed under: Digest Contributors, New York Yankees.

Thursday night was possibly the most surreal sports night of my lifetime. Mariano Rivera, the most unflappable, dominant athlete (as compared to everyone else who does his job) I’ve ever seen, was in tears on my television set. Alex Rodriguez was also fighting back tears. For you see, four hours earlier we saw the video of A-Rod witnessing Mariano’s injury and responding with absolute panic. His hands flew over his head, he screamed “Oh my God! Oh my God!” and then he turned and yelled for Joe Girardi to alert him that the great Mariano was seriously injured. For Yankee fans, no, for baseball fans, well in the end, for sports fans in general it was an absolutely chilling scene.

No knee injury to any athlete has ever received a reaction like this. It was one thing for the Yankees, their fans and the beat reporters to react emotionally to this injury. This was different. When the sad news was made clear, Twitter was flooded with the exact same sentiment by football writers, national sports media members, Hollywood types, people from the political world and amazingly, even Yankee rivals and haters. That tells you what kind of impact Mariano Rivera has had on the sports world.

This was someone different. This was not just a great athlete but a great man who exuded nothing but class and humility and earned nearly universal respect in a world where respect is often viewed as a thing of the past. This was a man everyone could look up to, aspire to be and who parents could steer their children to as someone they should admire. He was the rarest of commodities in the 2012 sports world: a true role model. He was a man of unmatched personal athletic accomplishments who routinely and honestly downplayed them for his entire career. He chose instead to emphasize faith, family and team, in that order. This was also a man with a legitimate chance to be the first ever unanimous Hall of Fame selection, which is why it’s just so impossible to believe that his epic journey could end by being carried off the field on a random Thursday night in Kansas City via a modified John Deere tractor. It’s simply not right.

It’s not about the 2012 Yankees right now. The season may or may not be over. David Robertson has been the best relief pitcher in baseball since the start of 2011. He was a closer in college and has been groomed for this opportunity for years; even if it may be happening sooner than anyone thought possible. The Yankees could simply wait for Andy Pettitte to return and move Phil Hughes to the bullpen to fill Robertson’s former role- a role he was tremendous in back in 2009- and be fine. They even have an outside chance of getting Joba Chamberlain back for the stretch run. Tonight, none of that matters because the heart of this team has been torn from their chest, like that famous scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. No matter what happens their security blanket is gone.

The hurt is far greater than the injury. This is different because of the overwhelming irony of the situation. By losing their most humble man the Yankees have lost their swagger.

Until next time, I’m Russ and this is the Cress Corner.

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Russ Cress

Russ has a Masters of Useless Information and is a proud Alumni of the Old School with a major in Trivial Crap. No, seriously, it's actually 2 degrees one in History the other in Broadcasting. He's worked for NBC Sports, worked on Trenton Thunder radio broadcasts, managed a video production company and taught at a major broadcasting school. A massive Yankee fan and student of baseball history, Russ' contributions will largely be in the area of media critiques, DVD & book reviews, retro-reviews of old sporting events with the occasional column on the current baseball scene. As a rotisserie baseball player since the late 1980's, he will also contribute the occasion musing on the world of fantasy baseball. He can be reached at rcressNYY at aol dot com.

7 Responses to Yanks Lose Their Swagger Without Mariano

  1. motohero

    I admit struggling with losing Moe! Tragedy for sure. But we do have Robertson who I am excited to watch him continue to dominate!

  2. Stu B

    People were all over Joba the Hut for messing around on a trampoline, but nobody would dare question why mighty Mo was unnecessarily messing around in the outfield, and apparently Yankees management never tried to stop him. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but what a shame.

  3. Frank Russo

    Stu,

    I think no one will ever really question what Mo was doing because he has been doing it since he joined the Yankees in 95. Shagging fly balls is what he does to warm up. It’s just a freak accident that no one could have ever predicted. FYI Great line with the Joba The Hut reference!

  4. Argent

    Wow. Wonderful hagiography, Russ. I see a hidden blessing in this: Perhaps the Lord took Mo off the 2012 roster because it’s so essential that he attend all RNC events that his equally charitable brother, ARod, can’t make, to save us from Obama’s Godless Atheistic and Fascistic Socialism. Whenever I read this, I realize how humble and blessed Mo is.

    “Rivera is a devout Christian. During his childhood, neither he nor his family attended church, but after a born-again experience in his early 20s, Rivera—and subsequently his parents—became religious.[122] He believes that God has a reason for everything that happens. For example, he found his failure in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series easier to deal with when he learned of the consequences it had on a teammate. Had the Yankees won the series, teammate Enrique Wilson would have remained in New York for a few extra days for the championship parade and would have departed for his native Dominican Republic on American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 260 people aboard. Rivera told Wilson, “I am glad we lost the World Series, because it means that I still have a friend.”[162] Rivera’s pitching glove is inscribed “Phil. 4:13″, in reference to the Bible verse Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me”).[163]”

    R

  5. Stu B

    @Argent: There’s also a saying, “God and $2.25 will get you a ride on the NYC bus or subway.”

    You Christians love to get all hyped up about God did this and God did that, and God cares about which team wins this baseball game or that football game. Has it occurred to you that God (if he/she/it even exists, and there’s no evidence other than peoples’ self-fulfilling prophecies) has much bigger things to think about other than if the Yankees win a World Series or who’s on their roster? Get over yourself!

  6. Russ Cress

    Stu,

    It’s not just Mo, pitchers have been shagging fly balls before games since BP was invented. It’s really no different than if he got hurt running the warning track or stretching. Just a fluke thing that’s part of the usual pregame routine for many guys for many years.

  7. Chuck Johnson

    Jesus saves, and Gretzky scores on the rebound.

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