This is our last goodbye. I hate to feel the love between us die. But it’s over.
Just hear this and then I’ll go.
You gave me more to live for, more than you’ll ever know.
— Jeff Buckley
It’s absurd, and I know it. You can’t apply the lyrics of one of the all-time heartbreak songs to this weekend of celebration. An iconic baseball player stepping gracefully into retirement is not the same thing as a brutal breakup — and I suppose it really shouldn’t conjure the same emotions — but for whatever reason, that opening line of Last Goodbye popped into my head and wouldn’t leave.
And I love that song, so the lyrics stay.
Barring some unthinkable charge into the postseason, this home stand really is the last goodbye for Mariano Rivera. The Yankees have six more home games this season, and a playoff berth seems less likely by the day. If you’re looking for a nice distraction, this weekend should do the trick because the Yankees are ready to celebrate their closer’s remarkable career.
• Sunday is the main event. The Yankees will honor Rivera’s career with a pregame ceremony, and you can bet it will be over-the-top. Fans attending the game will receive a Mariano Rivera “Thank You Fans” photo.
• Immediately after Sunday’s game, YES Network will debut a special called “Exit Sandman” that includes interviews, tributes, features, testimonials, etc. It’s supposed to run roughly an hour and a half. The YES pregame show that day will be an hour long, and I’m told it will include a ton of Rivera content as well, including the pregame ceremony.
• On Saturday, first 10,000 fans 14 and younger will receive a limited-edition Beanie Buddy named “Closer” in honor of Rivera. I don’t know much about Beanie Buddies, but apparently you can own one if you come to Saturday’s game, so that’s something.
• On Friday, Gray Line New York, in association with the Yankees, will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Yankee Stadium to induct Rivera into the company’s “Ride of Fame.” A double-decker bus displaying Rivera’s likeness on the front will be unveiled in addition to a permanent decal and seat dedicated to the Yankees closer.
• On Tuesday, the first 10,000 fans at Yankee Stadium will receive a Mariano Rivera Bobblehead.
• Beginning Sunday, the Yankees will wear “Mariano Rivera Final Season” patches on the left sleeves of their jerseys and on their caps for the final four home games of the season.
• There’s a petition out there asking the city of New York to change the name of River Avenue behind Yankee Stadium to Rivera Avenue. That would be pretty cool.
• It’s worth noting that Metallica — you know, that quiet little band that plays Enter Sandman — happens to be playing the Apollo Theater on Saturday night. It’s worth wondering if a live performance at Yankee Stadium might be in the works.
• Finally, a personal favorite just because I love the place: Foley’s NY Pub & Restaurant will change its name to “Mariano’s” and raise a banner over its facade for the Yankees final home stand. Foley’s will donate proceeds of the “Broken Bat Burger” — a bacon cheeseburger cut in half — to the Mariano Rivera Foundation throughout September.
Associated Press photos