Mariano Rivera is in the process of completing a farewell tour, getting recognition even within rival ballparks. Just on its own, this tells you a few things. One, Rivera is on the verge of retirement, preparing to officially hang up his spikes, figuratively if not literally. Two, Rivera has been great. Great and beloved and unanimously respected, but mostly, great. Players who weren’t great don’t get the Rivera treatment. Few players, really, get the Rivera treatment. Fans in other cities are saying goodbye to one of the greatest pitchers the game’s ever seen. Three, Rivera’s seen a whole lot. He’s had a long enough career to establish himself as a hall-of-famer — and to make an impression on every place he’s been to — so there aren’t many things Rivera hasn’t seen, that he hasn’t experienced. He’s given everything he’s had to baseball, and he’s squeezed baseball for everything it’s worth.
Some of the only things Rivera hasn’t experienced are different varieties of failure. He has, simply, been too good, too consistently and reliably good, to fail often. He has failed before, sometimes memorably, but there have been plenty of ways in which he hasn’t failed, and ways in which he never will. At the moment, though, Rivera’s experiencing something he’s never experienced before. For the first time in his big-league career, Rivera’s blown three consecutive saves. He hasn’t been through everything, but he’s been through one more thing than he had been.
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