BOSTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera made a tantalizing — but not at all serious — offer to baseball Commissioner Bud Selig on Thursday: another farewell tour, this time in the NL.
“Boss, listen to this, OK?” Rivera said on Thursday night before Game 2 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. “Since I did the whole American League and all the time with the family traveling with me, so I decided I’m going to give another shot in the National League. So here it is, guys.”
Having praised Rivera effusively at the ceremony to present him with the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award, Selig said he would have no problem if Rivera came back for a 20th season.
“We’ll make sure that happens,” Selig said. “That you can be sure of.”
With his family standing by, Rivera was honored on the field before the game. The Boston fans gave him a cheer, and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz ran out to the mound to give him a hug.
Rivera finished his career with 652 saves — the most in major league history — including 44 this season, when he was 43 years old. Selig praised Rivera less for his statistical achievements than for the way he carried himself.
“All records we have said are made to be broken, but this is one that I’m very confident will stand the test of time,” Selig said. “He became the face of baseball for this generation. And he did it in a way with so much class and so much dignity and so much honor that it couldn’t help but make me as the commissioner of baseball proud to think that one of our great stars of this generation represented the game so beautifully.”
Rivera said he sees himself as a role model. And other athletes should too, despite what Charles Barkley said in his classic Nike commercial.
“It doesn’t take anything to be nice, you know,” Rivera said. “I don’t know why you would say you’re not a role model, because kids look at you. And I think that if we do the right thing and play the game the way we should play it, that’s all we need to do. And outside the game, help as much as you can. That’s being a great role model. You don’t need to do something different that you don’t know how to do. You just do what you know to do.”
Rivera said he hasn’t really felt the change of retirement yet because it’s just the offseason. That will come in February, when he doesn’t report to spring training.
“You don’t talk now about retirement anymore, you’re talking about temptation,” he said. “So I’m going to go as far as I can go, to where people don’t play baseball. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I know that I’ll be busy.”
And there are no second thoughts.
“I don’t think it’s hard when you make up your mind,” Rivera said. “I give everything that I have in the tank. So I have nothing left. So if you see me like this, and you think I can play, I will tell you that I can’t play no more, because I have nothing left.”
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