When the discussion gets around to the most dominant athletes of our time, there a few names that always come popping up.
We hear about Tiger Woods for those years, Sampras than Federer and then Nadel. There was Jordan and Gretzky and Edwin Moses, who may go down as the single most dominant athlete in his sport of all time.
But sometimes we forget one in the discussion and we shouldn’t.
Rivera blew out his ACL (I blame the NBA’s shortened season) while shagging BP fly balls last night (and shagging fly balls is a truly a fun thing to do) and the question now is whether he’ll ever come back and what he’ll be like when he does.
He’s 42, there were suggestions this might be his last season anyway but if he’s gone, it ends an era that is truly remarkable and one I cannot imagine we’ll ever see again.
Playing a role often dominated by supernovas rather than long-lasting stars, Rivera was unlike anyone we’ve ever seen.
Six hundred and eight saves in 1,051 appearances over 18 seasons; only 73 blown saves (otherwise known as July for TOD) and an ERA of 2.21.
And it really goes beyond the numbers.
Here was a rather slight man doing unimaginable things with a baseball. I saw him once, years ago when I’d been away from baseball for a little while and he was introduced while sitting courtside at a Nets game and I was stunned by how unimposing he looked, physically. This was a regular-looking fellow who did incredible things.
And to do it in the manner that he did?
The mind reels.
Everyone knew what he was going to throw and where he was going to throw it and hardly anyone could hit it. He perfected one pitch and dined out in for decades; there was no secret to what he did, just an overpowering ability to do it.
It is blatantly unfair to compare golfers and relief pitchers and tennis players and runners and guys from hoops or the pucks. One doesn’t correlate with the others but it does make good chatter around the stools and when we next gather and the discussion comes to who is the GOAT, or at least the Greatest Of Our Time, we have to have Rivera near the top of the list.
Super Son has his final school concert of the year last night and the parents among us will know what that’s usually like. A series of oft-unrecognizable tunes or songs that include requiems and the odd hymn and stuff by Mozart and guys and gals of that ilk.
Well, this is why a music program at an arts school is the best; the kids are uber-talented and want to perform and shows actually include stuff you know and can recognize.
And if Cawthra wants to put on shows that begin with a rendition of this Nora Jones ditty (and I can listen to Nora Jones all day if the mood strikes) it’s all right with me.
And if, near the end, they get the jazz kids out there and some young fella warbles this Sinatra classic, well, when’s the next show?
Good job, kids. It makes parents proud to see talent and passion. And I’m not sure of the name of the young woman who ended the show with the first stanza of Amazing Grace but when she makes it big – and I’m pretty sure she will – I can say I saw her when.
Thus endeth the digression.
Mail? Please. Still unsure what the weekend plans are but have set aside a chunk of this afternoon to answering questions and need some more.
Two things I’m tired of:
We get it, Spike, you’re a fan. Be more like Jack, okay?
We get it, Reggie, you used to be a great shooter; as a commentator you make a great shooter.
So Chris Bosh has nine points and 10 rebounds and helps his Miami Heat team take an insurmountable series lead in the biggest game of the year to date for his team and, frankly, it’s the second most important thing he did yesterday.
The most important – by far – was going to be with his wife for the birth of the couple’s first child and to suggest otherwise is not a point of view I’m at all interested in entertaining.
He did the right thing and should be applauded for it.
End of story.
Heartfelt congratulations to the CFL for conducting its draft in relative secrecy yesterday and for not having one team draft a guy who is, you know, deceased.
Yes, I did tune in for a little bit – it was one of those Criminal Minds/CSI Wherever/What Else Is On TV As White Noise/Work At Home kind of days – and it was, well, it was something.
How, I’m not a big draft guy but this was odd. Two panels, with the coaches relegated to the background for some odd reason, and the commish standing there by himself with no one to hug or give a hat to.
Someone smarter than I can debate the relative merits of the selections but if you’re looking to hype the league, or even cover an event that has some significance in a lot of Canadian cities, surely there has to be a better way to do it, no?
And having the Saskatchewans scoop themselves by announcing the No. 1 overall pick at a breakfast event about six hours before the actual selection was a bit surreal.
Not sure I’ve ever seen a top pick interviewed on TV about 20 minutes before he was actually chosen. Kind of made the debate among the panelists moot, didn’t it?
Look, I’d love for the CFL to be more relevant here and I know how important it is in some cities across the land.
The draft, to true diehards, is a big deal; relegating it to a mid-week afternoon makes no sense. I get that there were live pucks and basketball on the networks at night and that they are money-makers and attention-getters and can’t be displaced.
But a Saturday afternoon? Or a Saturday morning. Or a Sunday mid-day makes far more sense, doesn’t it?
Anyway, they held it, time for others to chat about whether each team made the right pick but, again, glad they actually drafted guys who are ambulatory.