Posted September 18, 2013

Rivera handled Red Sox tribute with class, but not everyone was happy

Boston Red Sox, Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

Mariano Rivera, Yankees

The Red Sox gave Mariano Rivera several parting gifts before his final regular-season game at Fenway Park. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

With his final major league season winding down, Mariano Rivera is on a farewell tour, receiving gifts and tributes from opposing teams at every stop, befitting his iconic status and near-universal respect. Prior to Sunday night’s game at Fenway Park, the Red Sox bade him adieu, and while their tribute had an edge that rubbed some in the Yankees organization the wrong way, if Rivera didn’t take offense, it’s not clear why they should.

The 12-minute tribute was emceed by Red Sox radio announcer Dave O’Brien, who hinted at what was to follow as he introduced the festivities thusly:

“Ladies and gentlemen it is hour honor to night to pay tribute to one of the game’s great ambassadors. Thorought his stellar career he has been more than the greatest closer the game has ever seen, he has been a model of grace and class. On this, the last regular season visit in a career that has seen him cooperstown bound, we remember all to well how often he has come in and saved victories on this sacred turf. So perhaps he will forgive us if we focus for just a moment with less of a toast and more of a roast.”

That cued a video montage recalling Rivera’s blown save in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS — the one set up by pinch-runner Dave Roberts’ stolen base — starring Roberts, the always-insufferable Kevin Millar (whom Roberts replaced at first base after he walked) and Bill Mueller (who drove in Roberts with the game-tying run). After the trio offered their recollection of one of Rivera’s rare high-profile failures, all three offered more sincere words for his talent, professionalism and class. You can see the video as well as the rest of the ceremony here:

Once the 2004 recollections ended, O’Brien recalled Opening Day 2005, narrating clips showing a good-natured Rivera receiving a rousing ovation from the Fenway fans acknowledging his role in Boston’s unprecedented come-from-behind ALCS victory from a 3-games-to-0 deficit. Said O’Brien, “And it was your wonderful reaction, that we all saw, that we all remembered. You smiled, you laughed, you understood. You were a good sport, and you acknowledged us. You have been the greatest closer and you have been the classiest of competitors.”

O’Brien then called Rivera onto the field, as four Sox players presented him with gifts. David Ortiz, the last man standing from the 2004 team, presented a painting of Rivera raising both arms to acknowledge the Fenway crowd on that Opening Day. Dustin Pedroia presented him with the green 42 placard from the manual scoreboard on the Green Monster — a placard that will never be used again, since he’s the last player to wear the number — signed by each member of the current Sox roster. Jon Lester presented him with a blue seat from Fenway Park (number 42, of course) dating back to 1934. Koji Uehara presented the pitching rubber from the visiting bullpen as well as an inscribed plaque.

O’Brien also announced that the team brass would make a donation from the Red Sox Foundation in support of Rivera’s charity work in his native Panama, and concluded by reading the inscription from the plaque: “We tip our cap to the great Rivera, a real gentleman, a fierce competitor and a most worthy opponent.” Following that, the Sox showed a video montage of the closer striking out several Boston hitters in vintage fashion and again, tipping his cap to the Fenway crowd in 2005.

In all, it was a touching and unique tribute befitting a fierce rivalry between two teams, both of whom had times when they grabbed the upper hand during his career (recall Rivera’s exhausting three-inning stint in relief in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS before Aaron Boone’s walkoff homer). Even so, the tribute didn’t entirely sit well with some members of the Yankees organization, including manager Joe Girardi:

https://twitter.com/DPLennon/statuses/379449411480588288

Via Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, Rivera and longtime teammate Derek Jeter — who likely has his own farewell tour in store some day soon — took the tweaks in stride, but others did not:

A few Yankees officials and media members we asked right after the ceremony had some raised eyebrows.

“It looked like more of a tribute to the 2004 Red Sox than to Mariano,” said one Yankees scribe.

“Did you think they rubbed in 2004 a little bit too much?” asked one Yankees official.

…After the Red Sox’ 9-2 victory, Rivera was asked if the ’04 theme was too much, he said, “No, they deserved it.”

Jeter, who may one day receive similar treatment around the league, said of the ’04 theme, “I’m sure Mariano could remind them of a few things, but I thought it was funny.”

In retrospect, tributes to retiring players by opposing teams are still relatively unfamiliar beasts — those of Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn (both 2001) and Chipper Jones (2012) are the only ones that immediately stand out — and because of that there’s no roadmap for the proper way to handle them. The ferocity of the rivalry and the Red Sox franchise’s tendency to celebrate a championship that was 86 years in the making (a span that saw the Yankees win 26 titles and break New Englanders’ hearts several times in the process) should have been the cue that this would be no ordinary tribute. After all, getting Boston fans to stand and cheer for a player representing the hated Yankees takes some amount of innovation.

And to the victor go the spoils, something Rivera, who was part of five champions himself, certainly understands. “Hey, they won,” he told reporters on Sunday when recounting the 2005 situation. “We don’t give it to them; I don’t give it to them. They won. Therefore, they deserve credit. It’s simple like that.”

As the score suggests, Sunday night’s game itself was a lopsided one, and Rivera never had a chance to pitch, though he did leave one final mark in the visiting bullpen. From ESPN Deportes’ Marley Rivera (no relation):

102 comments
AlwaysInBeastMode
AlwaysInBeastMode

Even though I'm a Red Sox fan I think what they did was perfect.  Its obvious they were joking and what they said was simply out of respect for him.  Also, the Red Sox gave him more than any other team, items from the stadium that no other visiting player would ever get.

Chubby3342
Chubby3342

He is a baseball player...if he cured a deadly disease I can see having a farewell tour...however he pitched the 9th inning and occasionally 2 or 3...I'd be pissed if my home team did any sort of tribute for him...

JokerJack62
JokerJack62

I only expect the Red Sox to be classless and acts like low-life's in "honoring Mariano Rivera." Mariano is too civilized to tell the Red Sox organization to keep their cheap gifts and obscene tribute to themselves.

The phony Red Sox would have been better served to not give Mariano Rivera any send-off ceremony or any "gifts." It would have been more real had the Red Sox not given Mariano Rivera any gifts. Every chance the Red Sox get, they remind Mariano Rivera of that one blown save.

1. How about Bucky Dent's homerun against the Red Sox? Perhaps the Yankees should replay that every time the Red Sox come to New York

2. How about Bill Buckner's blown fielding blunder against the Mets? Maybe, other teams should replay that gaffe every time the Red Sox come to town.....

The so-called "tribute" by the Red Sox for Mariano Rivera was pathetic but what does one expect from a low-life organization? It would have been more real had the Red Sox done nothing and not honored Mariano Rivera. I found the ceremony to stink myself. Of all the teams who have actually honored Mariano Rivera, that the Boston Red Sox did the poorest job. The other teams kept it all about Mariano Rivera and chose not to obsess or make it a self-centered occasion as the Asston Red Slobs did on Sunday night.


Carl17
Carl17

Somebody just had to put this in a negative light. Too bad most people don't have the grace of Mariano, who clearly enjoyed the tribute.  Much ado about nothing.  Athletes rib each other; writers would never understand that.  Millar insufferable?!  He's also a class act and very funny.  This writer and others who got their panties in a bunch over this are insufferable.

TheBloozah
TheBloozah

I am a Red Sox fan and I think they ought not have really focused at all on the 2004 blown saves. But, there's a reason why Boston fans are considered snobs and the term 'Masshole' was spawned and you saw it in action during the "Tribute" to Mo. You stay classy, Boston.

bulltorch
bulltorch

Yankees fans can only talk about this because they know their season is going down the crapper and bitter that the far superior neighbors to the northeast put them there.... 

 the very fact that Mo is getting this grand farewell tour at every single stadium is beyond overdone.  Now, they're getting defensive when a team that has historically owned him, is poking a little fun at him before they shower him with gifts and praise.... STOP WHINING YANKEE FANS... 

Your organization used to be great, but now it is a bunch of disgruntled, overpaid, arrogant, entitled DBs and you have no youth, grittiness, or respect for the game anymore... Run by Steinbrenners' knucklehead sons.  The mystiique of the yankees is dead and so will your season shortly 

SteveRowFla
SteveRowFla

The cities of Boston and NYC have a corner on the market for unmerited arrogance.  Why would anyone be surprised that some of their sports figures would act like imbeciles while trying to be classy?!

blunot78
blunot78

Yikes, some people, starting with Girardi, are just pathetic. I'm a fan of neither team, but to have paid tribute to Rivera in Fenway without touching on the single greatest moment in the Sox' history and Rivera's starring role in it would have been silly. It was done with humor and reverence, and the tributes by the Boston players heartfelt. Above all, it wasn't phony, like so many of these moments can be. 

Shooter McGavin 19711
Shooter McGavin 19711

Just goes to show that Mo has more class than the entire Boston Red Sox organization.  After all, they were supposedly honouring Mo - but they took that opportunity to take a shot at him (and the Yankees).  If the Yankees had done this to a Boston player, there would be outrage on this board and at ESPN - but because it's the other way around, people think it's funny. 

eddie767
eddie767

The one person,who should've,had a problem didn't. If he did,he wouldn't say it. Thus,it goes to show that he's a man with class. People need to let this go,there are more important things for you to worry about than some tribute.

Derek8
Derek8

Sox fan here. Think the roast was overdone. I feel like the players looked uncomfortable.

Mariano is far too classy to show anything but smiles, but I'm sure this won't be a fond memory of his last season. Shake hands, give a gift or two, and go play baseball.

I'd be interested to see what the organization would do if our W-L was closer to last year's...

FatClemenza
FatClemenza

The "Farewell Tour" is a stupid concept that could only happen in post-1990 feminized America.  Did Ruth or Gehrig receive little gifts?  If the idiotic ceremony didn't go well, good.  Great as Mo has been, there have been other players far more important to baseball that have simply retired.

ChrisRiotTapes
ChrisRiotTapes

"hour honor"? 

I know the ceremony was long, but... 

nunEEE6
nunEEE6

It doesn't bother me but I could see why it would rub some people the wrong way.  It would be different if Mo had been good against the Red Sox... but they have basically owned him... he's blown about 1 out every 3 save opps against the the Sox in the last 10 years, and if you think Mo doesn't realize that, I would bet anything that you're wrong. 

It's kind of silly and tactless to say "it's just a joke" when it's completely accurate.  It's kind of like making a best man speech that pokes at a flaw of the groom that has been an actual thorn in his side and making it as a "joke" - very uncomfortable.

Ebullient
Ebullient

People like to find things to get mad about.  It feels good.

Jerkzilla
Jerkzilla

Thems the Red Suks, still a bunch of idiots.

Loch
Loch

Can someone explain the point of Dave O'Brien mentioning both Ortiz and Pedroia could join Rivera in Cooperstown one day? What did that have to do with honoring Mariano Rivera? 

pmccnn
pmccnn

Wa, wa, wa. Did they miss the part that showed Mariano striking out all those Red Sox players? 

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@TheBloozah I agree, it was somewhat funny, but what do you expect from the Sox management team? They hate the Yankees, even though they basically follwed thier diagram to winning..I find it laughable that Lucchino called the Yankees "The Evil Empire", then copied them..I guess that makes George Steinbrenner Darth Vader and Lucchino Rick Moranis (from "Spaceballs")...

CPUtalking2U
CPUtalking2U

@bulltorch Last few years Red Sox were hit hard by injury and by corrupt clubhouse and related ills then finished at bottom of division but  Yankees hit equally or nor more by the  injury bug this year and still in contention towards end of season - huge difference in organizations. SOX use weird home field ballpark to trick their way into runs - put Sox in any other ballpark and they may never win another pennant or make post season even!

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

Typical "Masshole" fan...you're hockey helmet is on too tight...

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@bulltorch USED to be great? Moron... you base that on ONE season? Again, get a clue, buy some vowels or better yet, learn some baseball knowledge.

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@SteveRowFla When you win as much as them, you will be arrogant..remember, the Sox fans used to ridicule the Yankees way of doing business, then followed the Yankees diagram and won two World Championships..now the fans are even worse.

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@FatClemenza They used to do that all the time during Ruth's era..learn some history of the game.

TheBloozah
TheBloozah

@FatClemenza Other than the choice to degrade the Feminine in your otherwise classy statement, I agree with it. Well put. Mostly :)

Sneeral
Sneeral

@FatClemenza "Today I consider myself the luckiest man in the world." You never heard that? Idiot.

jcmass
jcmass

@Jerkzilla As a longtime Red Sox fan, let me express my deep respect for Mariano Rivera. The highest praise I can give is that I wish we had him. He is the greatest closer, and I thought the tribute appropriate. 

He is not only a Hall of Fame pitcher, he is a man of class and grace. He is also a good sport. 

And I think I speak for many Sox fans in saying that he is probably more popular in Boston, because of the way he played the game, than Roger Clemens. 

It is for much the same reason that Bill Buckner is so well liked (a fact that often baffles out-of towners). Buckner played the game the way it was meant to be played. Despite all those injuries. Rivera had that same toughness. He played the game the way it is supposed to be played -- with every effort one has. 

And it is for this reason that I am certain that Derek Jeter will likely also be respected by Sox fans. We appreciate seeing players of that caliber and dedication. Rivera and Jeter always made it hard to "hate" the Yankees. (Same with Joe Torre). 

You don't hold "roasts" for those you dislike. 

pmccnn
pmccnn

@Loch uh, maybe because he works for the Red Sox, speaking to a crowd at Fenway Park?


bulltorch
bulltorch

@PAZSKY @TheBloozah they copied them and then realized that was the wrong way of doing business... then they traded away $250m worth of contracts for nothing and started at scratch.. build a team with character, gritty guys, who can produce.  A manager who can keep the clubhouse focused... the yankees are still stuck in the old way.. they have CC, Arod, Tex, jeter contracts who are all players that are not producing and are on heavy decline.... they are screwed for a few years and you won't be able to just buy your way back to the top anymore.. TB, Oak, Balts, Clevelands of the world will challenge us rich guys... its all over to the yankees.. they are as dead in the ground as good ol' frank sinatra

bulltorch
bulltorch

@PAZSKY @bulltorch its over buddy... your organization is going to collapse under the weight of its bloated contracts to overpaid aged athletes... same as next year... no youth, no development... 


Yankee mystique is dead.... 

247Realist
247Realist

@PAZSKY are you some sort of baseball guru?  Seems to me by your incessant ridiculous rhetoric on here that you either are a baseball historian, or a loser with no friends.  Get off the yankees jock already.  It is a GAME, and if you really think this whole Rivera Farewell Tour should happen you're just plain ignorant.  In what world does it make sense that a team honors the best closer on their biggest rival of all time?  One of the biggest rivalries in sports history?  It doesn't, except in 2013 America where if you yell at a teenager as a coach you get fired.  Everyone complaining about this tribute and wasting time on it in their minds need to find something better to do with life than follow a bunch of grown men playing a 12 year olds game and considering them heroes.  Get out of your mother's basement, turn off Lebron James TV (aka ESPN/Sportscenter) and take a lap.  You my friend, are pathetic.

BJWitkin
BJWitkin

@jcmass @Jerkzilla As A Yankees fan, I (we?) feel the same way about Pedroia. He plays the game the way it should be played--hard but fair and with class.

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@pmccnn @Loch Uh, well it was the wrong thing to say at a Rivera tribute..Loch is correct.

CPUtalking2U
CPUtalking2U

@bulltorch @PAZSKY @TheBloozah but SAHX STILL have BigPapi- only player to NEED a MLB spokesperson speak FOR him at his PED conference and still the ONLY player on the PED user list to never to punished---  and RedSox won two ( same as Marlins) World Series using PED  Manny Ramirez and Bigpapi to do it, oh yea, wallball tricky field for 80+ games of home field weirdness too!

bulltorch
bulltorch

@PAZSKY @TheBloozah oh... I forgot Robbie... that guy is going to be gone or sign a $100m deal somewhere else.. another contract to a showboat artist with talent but no heart... 

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@bulltorch @PAZSKY Do you even known anything about baseball? The Yankees are going to be this way for two years, it is a BUSINESS PLAN to get under $189 million in payroll so the Loria's of the world can't pocket the luxary tax money.  Dumber than a rock..

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@bulltorch @PAZSKY Yo're an IDIOT. Period. The Yankees are worth $1 billion  a YEAR..very little to show? Playoff EVERY year except Girardi's first, World Series Championship in 2009..or did you forget about that? MORON.

bulltorch
bulltorch

@PAZSKY @bulltorch yeah ok... the whole yankees mystique is done buddy..... your team has spent almost 2 billion dollars in a decade and have very little to show for it... not your team is rotting away with no future... Jeter ain't going to to win you anything anymore. he's old and decrepit... you have nobody. Your manager is lost... enjoy watching the sox from your couch in october.... 

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@bulltorch @PAZSKY Oh, the Red Sox..LMFAO! Bunch of hypocrites..don't forget to wear your pink hat for the Playoffs bandwagon fan!

bulltorch
bulltorch

@PAZSKY @bulltorch red sox moron... my team beat the snot out of your pathetic bunch... you will never get back there. Jeter is done, Mo is gone after the season, Tex is injured constantly, Arod will be suspended, Grandy is back to what he is, Nova is incosistent, Kuroda is old, Ichiro is gone, Gardner is nothing, your catchers suck, your BP sucks, your GM wants to leave, your ownership is clueless, your ticket prices are too high, the bronx is a dump, and your team will never win again.... bye

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@bulltorch @PAZSKY And if you're going to bash the Yankees, please list your favorite team so we can make fun of you..thank you.

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@bulltorch @PAZSKY And when you can spend a ton of money, you don't have to worry so much about your minor league system. As far as old, the only "old" guys on the team in 2015 will be Tex, A-Rod and possibly Jeter...

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@bulltorch @PAZSKY Put the pipe down dummy...I guess you don't pay attention (surprise!), but they are trying to get under $189 million payroll so your favorite team doesn't get a ton of money to not spend on players. In 2015, it will be back to the same old Yankees kicking your favorite team's butts again..