NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – You couldn’t think of a worse way for a Hall of Fame career to potentially end.
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Mariano Rivera was shagging fly balls Thursday night before the Yankees’ loss in Kansas City — as he always does — when he collapsed in a heap on the warning track, grimacing in pain and rubbing his right knee. His teammates looked on helplessly while Alex Rodriguez uttered “Oh, my God, oh my God” from nearly 400 feet away. Baseball’s saves leader was carted off the field, helped into the clubhouse and sent for an MRI.
After the game, manager Joe Girardi delivered the stunning news: torn ACL. It will end Rivera’s season, and perhaps his career.
“I thought it wasn’t that bad, but it’s torn,” said Rivera. “Have to fix it.”
Rivera hinted in February that this may be his last season. It’s unfathomable to think the “immortal” 42-year-old would be forced to literally limp into retirement, but the injured closer sounded as if hanging it up would be a real possibility.
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“At this point, I don’t know,” he said. “Going to have to face this first. It all depends on how the rehab is going to happen, and from there, we’ll see.”
On Twitter, shocked Yankees fans held out hope that the 12-time All-Star might come back for a proper farewell tour. After all, he was supposed to shatter the all-time saves record, not beat it out by single digits.
“Mo has a big decision to make,” wrote @TheSheikh. “If he does retire..it was and always will be one of the greatest careers ever. I am glad I lived in it.”
“This is the one Yankee they could least afford to lose both on and off the field,” @MichaelChuisano tweeted, “a class act all around won’t leave like this #MO42.”
@FrenchGirlRN posted, simply, “:( .”
Yankees fans on Facebook were still stunned Friday morning. Asked their thoughts on Rivera, the overwhelming consensus was No. 42 deserved more time to add to his MLB-record 608 saves.
“Mo’s career does not deserve to end like this,” wrote Joe Daino, whose profile photo showed a smiling Rivera in pinstripes. “He only deserves to walk off the field with his head held high, not carried off withering in pain. He is a class act, a legend and a true Yankee. I can only hope he gives it one more go. He deserves it!”
“Hopefully for who is no doubt the greatest closer of the game, this isn’t how it ends,” posted Matt Iacono. “It’s a tough injury for a player of his age to have this late in one’s career, but ‘never say never.’ “
Even non-Yankees fans couldn’t help but feel for Rivera.
“Nothing but true respect from this Red Sox fan,” Mark Ozburn responded on Facebook. “I couldnt wait until he retired, but not like this.”
Jon Berger agreed: “As much as I spout off about the NY Yankees … I respect the team and wonderful organization. I want to wish Mariano Rivera a very rapid recovery and if it turns out this is it, I will conclude by saying Thanx for the memories. I mean it.”
What’s your reaction to the Mo injury? Do you think he’ll join Jorge Posada in retirement? Sound off below…