When Mariano pitched his first game for the New York Yankees, in May 1995, I arrived in Seattle to start my internship at MSNBC.com. I ‘retired’ in August, my career there almost precisely parallel to his – at least in time.
That’s why we love sports so much. Baseball seasons help us keep track of time. If I need to remember when my niece was born, I conveniently recall watching the 2009 Yankees-Phillies World Series while waiting for word from the hospital. Oh my God, she’s 4? And so it goes.
I was crying Thursday night in the Bronx because I love Mariano Rivera and all he stands for, and because I will dearly miss having him as a daily part of my life every summer. But it’s more than that. Of course, I see my own life and my own career in his. In fact, I cried more when he retired than when I did, but that’s not exactly accurate. There was a cumulative effect.
And I suspect Yankees Stadium, and everyone watching on TV around the country on Friday, had their own reasons to cry. The family member you couldn’t share the moment with. The end of an era, or the end of your youth. The baseball career you wish you enjoyed. Maybe, the celebration you deserverd, but never got, when you retired from a life of good work somewhere.
There aren’t many places it’s appropriate for a man to cry in our not-really-modern culture, but the Bronx on Thursday night was such a place. I suspect, for thousands, if not millions of people. it was a good cry, and probably something that needed to happen for months or years.
With all the records Mo Rivera holds, and all the magical moments he’s provided, perhaps that was the most magical of all.
Why did you cry Thursday night?