Monday, September 23, 2013

Mariano the Matador

At my first and only bullfight eons ago, I was surprised by an inner surge rising in my blood at the matadors’ movements, an unconscious response to pure grace and courage.

In baseball, opposing batters pose no physical threat but, in the years between, Mariano Rivera has brought back that sensation by his demeanor on the mound and the sureness of his mastery over the fears that envelop us all as we move through life.

As Rivera ascends into myth, it is not the remarkable statistics we will remember but the man himself, embodiment of all those virtues Hemingway wrote about but in a figure devoid of the bullfighter’s self-important preening.

In his farewell tour, the tributes by those who opposed him were remarkably heartfelt. They were not only honoring his numbers and broken bats but something more, the essence of what competition should be—-clean, honorable and self-deprecating.

We will miss him, but what he leaves behind will remain.

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