Monday, September 23, 2013

Mariano Rivera

Normally I'd roll my eyes at the thought of one of my favorite bands donning baseball jerseys to honor a professional athlete. But Metallica is an exceptional band, and Mariano Rivera is an exceptional human being.

Like most red-blooded Americans, I can't stand the Yankees. But during a writing stint with Major League Baseball, I got to meet closer Mariano Rivera, who almost instantly melted any cynicism that I had with his humble, reserved manner. Watching him quietly talk about why it was important to him for his charitable foundation to build schools in Panama, or to hear him sweetly tell stories about his wife whom he's known since elementary school, it didn't matter to me that his team buys some silly championship almost every year. Later, one friend accurately described Rivera to me as the Robert E. Lee of baseball--"We all kind of wish he were on our side."

One more thing that makes Rivera extraordinarily cool is that his entrance music is "Enter Sandman." Thus, in honor of Rivera's retirement, Metallica played the song live in Yankee Stadium for his last game this weekend. As a send off, it was worthy of both the band and its subject, even if the announcer mispronounced Robert Trujillo's name.

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