Last week was a week of unparalleled emotions. It was time to say goodbye to a legend and a fan favorite for the New York Yankees. Another man who wore the number 42 on his back. Most of us equate that number with the legend Jackie Robinson. However, there is no denying that the number 42 has been worn by two of baseballs greatest heroes: a man who broke color barriers in America’s favorite pastime and another man who pitched his way into the hearts of everyone who loved the sport, including fans of rivals. Then there was the retirement of Andy Pettite, a class act all his own, but certainly no Mariano Rivera.
Yankee fans everywhere got to say goodbye to Rivera. It was done in remarkable fashion. Nobody can say the Yankees got it wrong. Andy Pettite walked to the mound when it was all over and took the ball away from the greatest closer of all time. There will never be another one like Rivera.
As one New York legend was bid farewell, another will be welcomed back into the fold today. Mike Piazza is set to be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. It is a day that will undoubtedly be scrutinized as fans everywhere hope it will also be the day the number 31 will be retired. There will be no better time to do it, unless the Wilpons decide to wait until his induction into the ultimate Hall of Fame, Cooperstown.
Some may call it hero worship. Others just admiration. Some could quite simply call it doing the right thing or giving a man his due. Whatever you want to call it, it is the perfect day to honor one of the biggest heroes in Metsland.
The way to end the year is on an up note. With the team on the verge of getting swept, nobody really gives a care in the world what happens in the game. Today is all about the one man who helped heal a nation with one swing of his mighty bat. It is a day to say “thank you” to the one who gave it his all and helped to bring the World Series back to Flushing.
I’m sure many of you have your Piazza stories. Mine is the hope he brought when he came to New York so many years ago. Undoubtedly, you have your favorite Mike-Piazza-wins-it-home-run story as well. From moonshots to just getting the ball over the fence like in the 1999 NLCS against the Braves with the game score 7-5 to tie the game to watching Piazza break Carlton Fisk’s home run record. Piazza’s story is one that will be told for years to come. It is a great story to tell. He started with the team being booed by fans, but soon became one of baseball’s most beloved players of all time.
While I would love for the number 31 to be retired today, at the same time, I would love it if it was done during opening day next year. End the year honoring the best and begin it in the same fashion.