A (Jason) Gay Ol’ Time (The Great Rivera Edition)

The Wall Street Journal’s redoubtable Jason Gay gets it pitch-perfect in his latest column:

Let’s Be Cool Like Mariano Rivera

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I have a new dream, a fresh life goal. I want to be more like Mariano Rivera. I believe I am not alone. Everybody wants to be more like Mariano Rivera. Especially this week.I’m not going to try and learn Rivera’s cutter, his otherworldly pitch. I do not plan to match his 638 career saves or his five World Series rings. I believe those accomplishments are probably—probably—beyond my reach. I do not intend to play for the New York Yankees, though I believe I am almost old enough and injured enough to get a big contract to play for the Yankees. I don’t think I could handle the pressure of playing for the Yankees. I could play for the Marlins. The Marlins, I could probably handle.

What Gay can’t handle, in general, is life.

I spend three-quarters of my life walking around like I have a raccoon in my pants. I drop a bagel on the subway and I want to call 911. I drive like a nervous cockatiel. I’m anxious in airports, elevators, escalators, supermarkets, pet shops, parties, weddings. I am not Paul Newman cool. I am Newman from “Seinfeld” cool.

I don’t want to be this way. I want Mariano Rivera’s grace, his dignity, his restraint.

Which, in Rivera’s final season, friend and foe alike are not only recognizing, but saluting.

Those All-Star players who got up on the top step and climbed over the rail on Tuesday night to applaud? They weren’t doing that because Mariano Rivera has a lifetime playoff game earned run average of 0.70. I would bet not a single one of them was cheering because of the stats. Lots of great athletes come and go with stats. No, these ballplayers were applauding because of what Mariano Rivera stands for, which is doing it the right way, never trying to be bigger than the game.

But, eventually, being bigger than the game, which New York magazine recently detailed.

As Gay concludes, the game – and the world – could use mo’ Mo.

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