Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Finally, a tear-worthy moment in Major League Baseball
On September 8, 1998 my wife mocked me as I shed tears of joy watching Mark McGwire break Roger Maris' home run record. The 1994-95 Major League Baseball strike demoralized fans so badly it almost devastated our national past time. I was having a very difficult time getting over the strike and what is said about the players and owners. Despite the Yankees dominant push during that time frame, the money-hungry, greedy, and selfish owners and players really put myself and many fans off for some time after that strike. 1998's "incredible" home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa seemed to bring some kind of redemption to America's beleagured game. So yes, I shed a tear that day in September 1998. The game had been redeemed with one swing of Big Mac's bat.
As it turned out, my wife's mockery was unwittingly prophetic. The redemption I thought was wrought with McGwire's long ball was false. A few years later we all learned that "magical" 1998 season was an epic farce and McGwire was a fraud among a countless number of frauds. The freakish, steroidal mockery of baseball continued with Barry Bonds and a host of others. The baseball steroid era took over the early 2000's and I confess a deep cynicism grew in my inner being toward the once noble American pastime. Icon after icon fell over the next ten years in baseball. The game seemed to have lost it's honor and maybe even it's soul.
I vowed to never shed a tear again for Major League Baseball "historic feats". Who could trust any of it?
I have not rescinded or retracted or recanted my vow, but tonight, I failed to keep it. Tears snuck up on me in a truly surprising way.
For tonight was the MLB All-Star game. Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of baseball and much beloved New York Yankee, took the mound in what will be his last appearance at such a venue marking the halfway point of his final season. The players on both teams and every fan in the stadium rose to give him a much deserved standing ovation while Enter Sandman played one last time.
Unlike Canseco, Giambi, Palmeiro, Sosa, McGwire, Bonds, Ramirez, Clemens, A-Rod, Cabrera, and a myriad of other cheaters, Mariano Rivera has provided a career to behold, untainted, and honorable. I broke my vow tonight, unintentionally. I will do my best to not let it happen again.
But yes, it's taken over fifteen years, but this evening- July 16, 2013, another tear-worthy moment happened in Major League Baseball as the greatest closer of all time began the swan song of his unmatchable career. Mariano Rivera stood on the mound, took off his cap and acknowledged the reception from the 45,000+ fans and players. He then went on to retire the side, 1-2-3, as he has done so many, many times before.