Mariano Rivera got his big farewell at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 26. Not only did Rivera get four outs in the Yankees’ final home game against the Tampa Bay Rays, he got taken off the mound in tears by fellow icons Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte. While New York clapped, cheered and cried over the moving display, it also reflected how Rivera’s goodbye is also one for the Yankees at large.
Jeter, Pettitte and Rivera appeared for the final time together in pinstripes at Yankee Stadium, if not the final time together in any baseball game. Pettitte will also retire after this weekend, while Jeter could have to retire himself if his latest injuries don’t heal well enough. Once he is gone, the final symbol of the Yankees’ glory days will disappear as well.
The Yankees will miss the playoffs for the second time in Rivera’s career -- the first being the last year of the old Yankee Stadium in 2008. For the second time in a row, New York is wasting an historic farewell, this time by failing to get Rivera in one last postseason. But with the reemergence of the Boston Red Sox and the success of the Rays, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers, the post-Rivera Yankees as a whole may not make another postseason for a while.
Saying goodbye to Rivera was also saying goodbye to the Yankees franchise that once won four World Series in five years, and five during Rivera, Jeter and Pettitte’s careers. Since the actual game on Sept. 26 had the Rays completing a sweep on their way to the playoffs, Rivera’s last appearance helped disguise harsh reality for the Yankees one last time.
After the season actually ends in Houston this weekend, New York will be filled with nostalgia for Rivera, Pettitte and possibly Jeter. It will be better than actually looking ahead to the future, especially with Alex Rodriguez’s appeal dragging on, and Robinson Cano now asking for a $300 million contract this offseason.
New York said goodbye to more than just Rivera on Sept. 26, unless the Yankees have one more genius move left in them. Yet the ones who made the real genius moves in the last 20 years are all just about gone now.