The New York Yankees made the biggest splash of the offseason, acquiring Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins. The newest Yankee appeared in Orlando, Florida at the 2017 Winter Meetings to face the media for the first time since the deal was finalized.
It’s just past 10 p.m. (edt) and I begin toggling through the channels looking for the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners game. I pass by the short schedule of West Coast games — the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics — before I reach my destination.
Welcome to Safeco Park.
As I lean back on the sofa, I think to myself: How many baseball fans are interested in this game? I mean, really, outside the hardcore Mets and Mariners fan bases. Is this what former MLB commissioner Bud Selig had in mind when he convinced every major league team owner that interleague play was good for the game? Was he envisioning a late-July Mets/Mariners showdown to generate new fans and higher attendance?
I think not.
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.
Just as he did an hour earlier, New York Mets pitcher Dave Mlicki walked from the team’s dugout to the pitchers mound at Yankee Stadium. It was the same understated stroll he made to and from the dugout during the game only now the Stadium was quiet, empty and dark. It was eerily cool for a mid-June night. The heat — along with the cheering, jeering and chanting — left in the shadow of 56,188 New Yorkers.