Those were the first words I thought when I heard that Mariano River, the Yankees closer, had suffered a season ending...and possibly a career ending...injury. It was a freak thing...a fluke. A misstep suffered while doing something he'd done hundreds of times before. One little slip...a twisted knee...and just like that the season was over.
I was heartbroken. I love Mariano. Not only is he the greatest closer in baseball, but he's a classy guy. He's a true leader in the Yankee organization...mentoring young pitchers and teaching them to be better...and helping his teammates whenever he can. He doesn't seek the spotlight for himself and focuses instead on his team. My favorite quote from Mo was when someone asked him to describe his job he said "I get the ball, I throw the ball and then I take a shower." He does so much more than that. But he's humble and gracious and he really cares about his team and he loves the game.
He's also a big family man. He's married...not to his high school sweetheart...but to his childhood sweetheart and they have three children. He's very involved in his church and his foundation, which builds schools and churches and buys Christmas presents for underprivileged kids.
Seriously...he's a good guy.
I met Mo once. Several years ago...during the playoffs, a friend and I were eating lunch in White Plains when Mo and his wife came in and were seated at the table next to us. We didn't want to bother him, but when we were getting up to leave we wished him luck in that night's game. He smiled and thanked us. And they did win the game that night.
Mo was planning to retire after this season, but he's vowed to come back and play again. He refuses to go out like this and for that I'm glad. It would be very sad to never get to watch him pitch again.
Brian Robertson, who is taking over in Mo's absence, is a good pitcher. He gets the job done...but he likes the tension of full bases before he does so. When I was discussing this with my brother he said "It's going to be a long and stressful season without Mo...but I know he'll be back."
So Mo...we are all wishing you a speedy recovery. Baseball is just not going to be the same without you this year.