Last week, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was doing what he always does
before a game. He was shagging fly balls in the outfield during pre-game batting practice.
As he backed up close to the wall, he stepped from the outfield grass onto the warning
track and as he did, he came down awkwardly on his left knee. The result was a torn ACL
as well as a torn meniscus. While Mariano consulted with several doctors, Yankee fans
were in shock and total despair. After all, the 42 year old reliever owns practically every
Major League record for the regular season and the post-season. He dominated his part of
the game as the great Babe Ruth once did as a power hitter. “He’s too old to come back
from an injury like that,” said one Yankee fan. Another said, “He’s done everything he
could possibly do, so why would he want to come back?”
After discussing his options with New York Mets team physician Dr. David Altchek,
who performed shoulder surgery on Rivera in 2008, he decided this was not the way
he wanted his career to end. “I had a lot of time to think last night,” he said. “I decided
I can’t go out like this. I love to play the game. I don’t think, to me, going out like this
is the right way……I don’t think like that. With the strength of the Lord, I have to
Dr. Altchek told Rivera that he could be back in 3-5 months. That would be a perfect
scenario for manager Joe Girardi and Rivera’s Yankee teammates. “Mo’s a guy who
wants to do things on his own terms, and wants to determine when he’s done,” Girardi
said. “I don’t think he’s the kind of guy who would ever say, I was done because of an
So, the rehab will soon begin. Mariano Rivera has always been a hard worker. He
is also a great competitor, which is perhaps the real reason he says he’s coming back,
and while he rehabs his knee, the Yankees have decided to hand over the closer’s role
to right-hander David Robertson. Robertson and another hard throwing righty, Raphael
Soriano will each get a chance to carry the load in the Yankee bullpen. Robertson had
the distinction of being the “set up” guy for Rivera. He would be credited with a “hold”
by pitching the eighth inning, and handing the ball to Rivera for the ninth inning save.
Robertson’s stats are even more impressive than Rivera’s in 2012 so far, and the Yankees
say they have complete confidence in him to get the job done.
Mariano Rivera has been as much a major part of Yankee folklore as any player ever.
With the return of 39 year old lefty And Pettitte later this month, Rivera and shortstop
Derek Jeter make up the only three players left from the 1996 World Series Champions;
The same three players who also won four more World Series crowns are still in the
Bronx and still looking for their sixth ring. “I am coming back. Put it down, write it down
in big letters. I’m not going out like this. God willing, and given the strength, I’m coming
back,” Rivera said on Friday in the Yankee clubhouse.
As several sports writers and reporters continued to ask question after question,
Rivera was asked about returning at the age of 42, to which he responded, “Oh
yeah….yeah. They will want the old goat.”
GOAT is the acronym for, Greatest of All Time; which is exactly what Mariano
Contact Randy Smith at email@example.com
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 42 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer, author and is also a media concepts teacher at Red Bank High School in Chattanooga. He is currently teaching an "Intro To Sportscasting" class at Red Bank, the only class of its type in Tennessee. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 10 years. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry Davey and Alison Smith). They also have one grandchild (Coleman).