With the imminent retirement of Mariano "Mo" Rivera, people all around the 'net are reminiscing with their favorite or special Mo-ments. While I had the fortune to see many Yankees games in the 1990s and early 2000s at Yankee stadium, the moment that I want to share takes place at the Yankees spring training facilites at Steinbrenner Field.
It was sometime around 2000 and the Yankees were playing the Braves. The game quickly turned into a laugher, with the Yankees up by more than ten runs after a few innings. In other words, a typical spring training game. Both teams substituted vigorously.
My sister and I were sitting on the home team (First Base) side, about three or four seats from the bullpen. As you might expect, the bullpen was busy that day, with players getting their throws in, warming up and prepping to come into the day. After awhile we got used to the constant sizzle and *thwock* of a major league pitcher throwing to his catcher. It was a soothing sound.
In the seventh inning however, there was a pause and then something happened. The soothing sounds stopped and were replaced by what I can only describe as the crack of a bullwhip mixed with the sound of a pistol firing. the sound was loud enough to assault the ears. The natural inclination was to seek shelter, away from whatever made that un-godly noise. I looked over to my sister an we both scooted over to the end of the row where a crowd had begun to gather around the noise.
At the center was Mariano Rivera, warming up. Without the benefit of the wall between us and him, the sound really sounded like a rifle retort.
I couldn't imagine what amount of money would be necessary to get me to stand in the batter's box with that sound only a foot or two from my ears. I remain convinced to this day that, professional ball players included, there wasn't enough money present at that field to coerce me into the box, much less pick up a bat and try to swing at the ball. At least with Mo throwing, the ball wouldn't hit me. God knows what would happen if I actually interfered with its flight.
All too quickly, Mo finished his warm-ups and jogged out to pitch. I imagine the poor Braves players were thinking the same thing as they didn't do much against Mo that day. We left shortly thereafter. Since then, I've moved away from the Big Apple. I wasn't able to attend any of Mo's going away ceremonies and I haven't kept up with the Yankees this year like I should. Those years from the mid 90's through the first decade of the 21st century will remain special to me as they will to the millions of fans that this team has touched. We were lucky enough to glimpse through these players a fraction of what the great Yankees dynasties of the 30s, 40s and 50s were like. Thank you.