With Mariano Rivera getting 602 saves, and getting a bunch of media attention and internet attention 2.0, I want to tell you new or casual fans some things about the Yankees closer. Mariano Rivera has always been my role model, and I recommend him to be a role model for kids and adults, even though he’s a sports athlete.
You see, when people talk about sports athletes not being role models, they are correct: we should not put people on pedestals. Kids should have a loving relationship with their parents first, and then think about other people for inspiration. Anyway, unlike other athletes, who get involved in such scandals as steroids, HGH, cocaine, weed, adultery, sexual perversion, DUI, women abuse, gambling, bending the rules/cheating, racism, fighting, gossiping, or having huge egos, Mariano Rivera has never been involved in any of that stuff.
I think the most “scandalous” thing I’ve ever heard about him comes from an unsubstantiated “tell-all” book by a former Yankees batboy that said Mariano Rivera sometimes will eat “junk food” in the bullpen.
And although the headlines and talking heads always speculate about heat between Rivera and his boss Brian Cashman come free agency, the big joke on everyone is that the negotiations are handled by Mariano’s agent, and if things get hot and scary, Mo will just call Brian up and they’ll reach an agreement. Mo doesn’t like to sit in and deal with the money issues, and his agent’s job is to make sure he gets paid what he’s worth.
Yeah, he’s some Tiger Woods, Dennis Rodman, Pete Rose, or A-Rod, right? Even Michael Jordan had his own gambling demons.
Heck, as much as Derek Jeter is considered Jesus Christ in New York, Jeter really isn’t perfect: the way he dumps super models, actresses, and singers is….kinda weird considering he’s 37 years old already. Plus we all know Jeter has too much pride to switch positions from shortstop.
But Mariano? He is an all-around good guy who is content with being in the shadows, and one woman seems good enough for him. He loves his job and he works hard at his job, with no complaints. Every player in baseball has only good words to say about him. Can you imagine that? One has to go back to such players like Cristy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, and Lou Gehrig to find players that are universally respected by fans, media, teammates, and opponents.
He has pitching in New York since 1995 and HAS NOT CRACKED by the newspaper attention, Steinbrenner pressure, radio shows trash talking, rough fans, TV talking heads, and insane expectations every single season and post-season.
He never got into a fight with a teammate, never yelled at a reporter, never talked crap about another team, never used sandpaper on a ball, never shouted at an unruly fan, and never said “I’M THE BEST”, like other relief pitchers do. In fact, beat reporters in New York get frustrated that such a man can be so selfLESS and like a living saint. If every player was like him, they would be out of jobs, and that’s not a bad thing.
Of all the self-professed Christians in baseball, Mariano Rivera is the only one I know of that actually does what he preaches. He didn’t publicly judge and insult homosexuals like John Smoltz did. He didn’t give into peer pressure and take performance enhancing drugs like Andy Pettitte did. He didn’t lie to authorities like Roger Clemens did.
He kept his humble nature and never let his status or money go to his head. He’s a family man, and a teammate who will gladly share his knowledge about the game without fear of someone taking his job away. Everything Mariano does is because of God’s blessing- that’s how Mariano sees his life. He never had a good fastball as a youngster until one day he woke up and threw 96 miles per hour- a miracle. Don’t let Rivera’s spiritual enlightenment fool you into thinking he’s not a fierce competitor- he is. His opponents respect him for that. He is going to perform his role to the best of his ability each time out.
So before you moan about how athletes don’t deserve their high salaries, and how kids have no role models in sports, and how athletes are impersonal, selfish, and just like Joe Blow, you should follow Mariano Rivera’s career.
Just because the bulk of players give into temptation and ignorance doesn’t mean that it’s EVERYONE.
I’m not sure how long he will be playing (at least through 2012), so watch him while you can, and always remember that there ARE exceptions to the rule.
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