Ike Davis folded his hands, grinned, then leaned into the semi-circle of microphones.
”I’m the guy you want in a big situation,” he said.
New York Mets president Al Harazin was less than two years removed from watching a ball roll through Bill Buckner’s legs; he didn’t need to be reminded just how fragile a post-season lead is. The Mets trailed by two runs and were reduced to a skinny strike on that fateful October night at Shea Stadium in 1986. No reminiscing necessary. The celebration of that World Series title season of 1986, lingered for days, weeks, months and years after.
In Boston, their Sox are Red and their hearts are broken. In Boston, the 2013 Major League Baseball season started with a new manager, a handful of questionable roster additions and a sense of anxiety. In Boston, the the good news was Bobby Valentine was out. In Boston, that created optimism along Lansdowne Street. In Boston, optimism means something.
The city has a long history of baseball heartbreak. Bucky Dent (1978). Bill Buckner (1986). Aaron Boone (2003). But all that has changed over the last decade. The Red Sox put to rest the gibberish of an organization cursed, winning three World Series — 2004, 2007 and 2013 — in nine years.
There is nothing in the playbook that could have prepared the Houston Texans or the Denver Broncos for this. What audible do you call when the head coach suffers a Transient Ischemic Attack — in layman’s terms, a stroke? That’s what happened to Texans coach Gary Kubiak Sunday.
Kubiak is a young 52 years old, an athlete and former NFL quarterback, who looks as if he’s in great shape, at least on the outside. If Rex Ryan or Andy Reid were felled by health problems we wouldn’t be surprised, but Gary Kubiak? Then again, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised, but concerned. This is scary stuff.
“I realized for the first time that the ultimate joy is not in the clubhouse, spraying champagne … the biggest thrill is on the field, joining teammates in the competition to achieve one common goal,” said Seaver. “That day I understood that the process in itself is the reward. It was a lesson in maturity, a moment of personal growth. That is why as long as I live, whatever I accomplish, I will always be a ’69 Met.”
You don’t have to like the New York Yankees, but how can you not respect Mariano Rivera?
He has spent nearly one-half of his life beating everyone in sight — with one pitch, a cutter. Rivera pitched 19 major league seasons and recorded more saves than anyone in MLB (652). Rivera led the Yankees march to the World Series seven times (winning five times). He pitched in the post-season 16 times and was selected to the All-Star team 13 times … again, with one pitch.
More importantly than wins and losses or statistics, Rivera won with grace; he lost, rarely, with great dignity. After his final game in New York, No. 42 walked out to the Yankee Stadium pitchers mound one more time. He scratched at the rubber with his right foot, tipped his cap, soaked in the cheers, then he dropped to one knee and scooped up a handful of dirt before leaving the field.Rivera will leave behind his pinstripes and a trunk full of baseball memories.