It was a sight to behold at Yankee Stadium Thursday night as Mariano Rivera left the mound for the last time on his home field. And he went out in unique style, taken from the game by longtime teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte. Only the Yankees could pull something like this off.
The final act of 2013 was dramatic, if not theatrical.
In fact, the choreography was flawless — even here and now, for a team going nowhere, for a game without meaning, for a season without pity.
But in one simple gesture, Joe Girardi managed to gather 48,675 participants around the fading embers of a glorious era, somehow giving a season of gloom a lasting glow, and the Yankees manager never even had to leave the dugout.
If you saw it, you’ll never forget it. And if history is an honest arbiter, it will become a Yankees keepsake that belongs as much to the man who conceived it as the legend it was intended to honor.
Think about it: This was probably the ceremonial duty that any manager would never willingly abrogate in a professional career — because it was too important, too historic, and too relevant even to his own life.
But Girardi instinctively felt that the belonged to someone else. So the decision he made in the season’s final home game last night — dispatching two pairs of very broad shoulders belonging to Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter, just to shepherd Mariano Rivera from the Yankee Stadium mound for the final time in his illustrious career — said as much about the manager as it did the closer.
Total class move by Girardi. Moments like these you just don’t want to see end. Beautiful to see one of the great class acts in sports go out like this.