The video above is Mariano Rivera’s opening statement from today’s press conference. It was his way of announcing — officially — that this will be his final season with the Yankees. And he had some fun with it.
Rivera started by thanking Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner for giving him an extension, a fictional agreement poking fun at the fact that everyone was already well aware of his intention.
“You should have seen Cash when I was talking about the three years,” Rivera said. “That’s what it is all about. We have to enjoy. Everything is not work and business. You have to enjoy. That’s what I tried to do.”
Rivera said the part that almost left him emotional was the sight of his entire team standing on the side of the room. Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte walked in with Rivera, but Rivera didn’t know the whole team was coming.
Why make this decision now?
“Now is the time. I have given everything and the time is almost ending. The thing that I have, the little gas I have left is everything for this year. After that, I’ll empty everything. There’s nothing left. I did everything and I’m proud of it. That’s why it’s time. … One thing I will say that I will never stop missing the game or the action on the field and my teammates. After that, it’s nothing else. The traveling, hotels and all that. There’s no more in me. I’ll do what I have to do next.”
If not for the injury, would he have retired after last season?
“If I would have finished the season last year, I would have retired last year. Definitely. I didn’t want to leave like that. I felt like I wanted to give everything and I still had something left. This year, I knew what I wanted to do. I don’t want to leave home; I want to stay home. But I know that I have a job to do. I’m here to do the best to my organization, to my teammates and to represent the organization the way I have done for 23 years of my career.”
Any chance of following Andy Pettitte’s lead out of retirement?
“Andy, man, what’s wrong with you? I’ll tell you what; the reason is what I told you before. I have just a few bullets left, and I’m going to use them well this year. That’s what I have. I know that after this year, you won’t see me in the field unless I’m doing something else but playing baseball. It’s not in me. I did what I love, I did it with passion, I did it with everything that comes with playing the game of baseball, but after this year, I know I won’t do it for the wrong reason. I don’t want to be there doing it for money, for traveling or for whatever else but the love of the game. I just want to stay home, close the door and do what is next.”
Plan to stay involved with baseball?
“I definitely will be in the game in some way, some aspect of the game. I would love to work with the minor leaguers. That’s a passion that I have, a respect that I’ve got for the game. Giving back to the organization or to the game of baseball is just giving the knowledge and the experience that I have within the game of baseball. Work with the minor leaguers, it’s a lot of things that go along from rookie ball to the big leagues. I’ve been through that, so I want to be able to work with those kids. In the big leagues, they’re a bunch of old men there, and they’re set. They know everything. I want to do it with the minor leaguers knowing that they have so much talent to give.”
Thoughts on being the last player to wear No. 42?
“Being the last person to wear No. 42, I carry the legacy of Mr. Jackie for all these years. I tried to do my best to wear No. 42 and do it with class and honor. That’s what I’ve been doing. That’s what I’ve been trying my best to carry the legacy of No. 42. I will continue doing that to the end. Hopefully the lord give me the strength to continue doing it. What Mr. Jackie Robinson did for us as a minority is tremendous. He gave us an opportunity to come here and play; opened doors for us. Being the last player to wear No. 42 is a privilege.”
Emotions on a day like this?
“Celebrating. There’s not sadness because it’s nothing to be sad. I did everything within my power to enjoy the game, to do it well, to respect the game of baseball. I have so much joy of that. No one can take that joy away from me. To me there’s no sadness. I would say joy because thank God I was able to play the game of baseball for so many years. I’m not sad, to tell you the truth. I’m just happy that I was able to do this thing again. I don’t want no one, fans or no members of my family, to be sad. My family is glad because they want me home.”
Associated Press photo