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The radio/TV calls as Mariano Rivera is pulled from the game by Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter. (YES Network-WCBS Radio/Sun Sports TV-WDAE Radio)
By Mike Harrington
It's being called simply the coolest pitching change in the history of baseball. Hyperbole perhaps? Sure. But after what we saw in the ninth inning Thursday night in Yankee Stadium, no one is going to argue.
If you missed it, Mariano Rivera got four straight outs in the Yankees' 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay. With two outs in the top of the ninth, longtime teammates Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter -- and not manager Joe Girardi -- came out to the mound to remove him from the game, with a smiling Jeter clearly mouthing "Time to go". Rivera and Pettitte exchanged a long hug, with Rivera sobbing on his friend's shoulders, before he headed for the dugout and curtain calls. When the game ended, Rivera came back to the mound to collect some dirt for posterity.
Girardi masterminded the moment and got the blessing of the umpires.
And during an emotional press conference, Rivera took time to thank the media because he told several of them he regretted doing so during his pregame speech to the crowd on Sundays. He said, "I love you guys" and the writers in the room correctly broke every rule about media decorum and applauded. Awesome.
My feeling is that is how Mariano should go out as a pitcher. No offense to the good folks of Houston, but I hope he doesn't throw in the Yankees' final series there this weekend. If he wants to play center field maybe let him do it. Otherwise, this should be the goodbye. Still, this New York Daily News story says he might do both.
Also in the Daily News, Mark Feinsand neatly writes, "Credit Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte with the save Thursday night."
And how about the incredible horizontal front-back cover the Daily News put out above -- on deadline with no warning this was going to happen!
A great tweet from Rays Manager Joe Maddon: "For me tonight was not unlike the Ripken moment. Hard to imagine anyone surpassing Mariano. It's like DiMaggio's streak: untouchable."