On Thursday night, one of the most consistent, awe-inspiring, likeable and admirable players in baseball history suffered an injury that may end his stellar career.
Veteran New York Yankee pitcher Mariano Rivera tore his ACL while chasing a fly ball in batting practice before a game in Kansas City, a serious injury that threatens to shut down one of the greatest pitchers the game has ever seen.
Rivera, however, insists he will not be giving up.
The New York Times reports:
For almost 17 years, Mariano Rivera has starred for the Yankees with humility and grace. His dignified demeanor, as much as his famous cut fastball, has defined him in the public mind.
Now we can add another character trait to the most indispensable player of his generation: defiance. Less than 24 hours after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament while chasing a fly ball in batting practice, Rivera told reporters in Kansas City, Mo., that he would not let the injury end his career.
“I’m coming back,” Rivera said. “Write it down in big letters. I’m not going out like this.”
Just recently, I watched Rivera pitch a perfect ninth inning against the Texas Rangers, earning one of his record 608 career saves (he also has 42 in post-season play). I feel the same way watching him pitch as I did watching Michael Jordan play basketball — it just doesn’t get any better than this; this is a privilege, a joy, an experience of common grace to be savored and treasured. What has always been most amazing about Rivera is that he basically throws one pitch, a cut fastball; he continues to throw it over and over again, and no one can hit it.
Rivera is a man of Christian faith and he is finding strength in that to stay positive and focused on doing his rehab and getting back to the career in which he has been so successful. “Miracles happen,” Rivera said with a smile. “I’m a positive man. The only thing is that I feel sorry I let down my teammates. Besides that I’m OK.” Whether he comes back or not, I have an idea from watching him over the years that he’s going to stay OK.
When Rivera’s knee buckled on the warning track the other day, and he went down, he fell against the outfield wall where a billboard exhorted: “Walk Off A Hero.”
Something tells me it’s going to happen, one way or another.