I have watched very little Yankee baseball this season, because I’ve been busier than usual and because I try not to watch television in front of my son, who is 19 months now and, in those rare moments when he sees a turned-on television, is instantly hypnotized, and because the Yankees just weren’t very good.
But of course I had to watch last night as Mariano Rivera pitched in his final game at Yankee Stadium. I’m so glad I did; I saw one of the most memorable and moving moments in baseball history, as, with two outs in the ninth, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter came to the mound to take Mariano out of the game for the last time in the Bronx.
Did you see it? You could see the respect and the camaraderie on the faces of Pettitte and Jeter as they walked toward the mound. And once they got there, Pettitte and Rivera hugged, and you could plainly see from the body language that the emotion of it all had overwhelmed Rivera.
Having a thing like that happen in front of 50, 000 people who all respected the power of the moment—that was quite something.
And after the game ended, the Yankee dugout cleared out—except for Rivera, who sat at the end of the dugout bench. You could see it on his face: He didn’t want to leave.
Rivera has been a gentleman and a master for two decades, and it’s quite possible that baseball will never see that combination of endurance, dominance and elegance.
By contrast, Robinson Cano—a very gifted player who often chooses not to run out ground balls, and by no one’s definition has ever been a team leader—chose yesterday to let it be known that he would like a ten-year contract paying him $310 million.
That would be baseball’s first $300 million contract, and the odds are overwhelming that it won’t happen. But still: It’s almost insulting to the Yankees even to ask for it when the team is still saddled with Alex Rodriguez’s $275 million contract, which still has several years remaining. That contract has hamstrung the team for the past several years and contributed to its decline. Hey, the Yankees did it voluntarily, no one’s going to cry for them, but to come out and say, “I want an equally long-term contract at more money than A-Rod,” given what a fiasco A-Rod has been….
Robinson Cano has every right to try to get paid as much as he can, of course, and maybe this is just a bargaining ploy.
But I hope the Yankees don’t even negotiate. Let Cano go. They may not be a better team without him, but they’ll certainly be a more likable one.
I think I’ll just watch this again: