Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday's Musings on Sports - 42 and 15

During last week's All Star Game at Citifield, there was an event which occurred in the 8th inning which demonstrated that there still is some class in the game of baseball. After the American League had been retired during the top of the 8th inning, Yankee closer Mariano Rivera came out to pitch the bottom of the 8th inning. As Rivera has announced his intention to retire at the close of the season, it was understood that this would be his final appearance in All Star game. And what an appearance it was...

As has been widely reported, when Rivera left the dugout he was not joined by any of his teammates on the American League All Star Team.Although it is not clear whether the decision was spontaneous or pre-planned, no other member of the AL team took the field when Rivera stood on the mound. Instead, it was just Rivera standing in what has been called the loneliest spot on the field. As Rivera looked around, the fans at the All Star game gave him a standing ovation. The video of that night shows that he was choked up emotionally as the soon to be Hall of Fame pitcher was showered with adulation by nearly fifty thousand fans and dozens of his peers. But while this was no doubt a stunning tribute, it was dwarfed (in my mind) by a similar act by fans who have long despised Rivera and the New York Yankees.

While driving home from Camp M this morning, I heard a piece on the Mike & Mike in the Morning program (98.7FM or for me while in the mountains, Sirius/XM 84). Greeny was talking about how he had gotten back from visiting his kids in some sleepaway camp in Maine and was out at a diner with his wife and some friends. As they were having dinner, Greeny was watching the Yankee-Red Sox game on a TV which had no sound. As such, he was unable to hear the commentators, but he did not miss the fact that the Boston Red Sox faithful at Fenway were giving Rivera a standing ovation when he game out to finish off a Yankee win over the Red Sox. Greeny related on his program today that when he observed this on TV he asked his friends whether he was crazy or if this event really was happening. I don't know how his friends responded to him about being crazy, but the event certainly did happen.

While the gesture by his teammates and the fans at Citifield was very classy, the ovation by the fans at Fenway was much more meaningful to me. Indeed, the difference between the two events is quite clear. When Mo received the standing ovation at Citified, he was being greeted by a crowd comprised of fans from many teams, and was playing in a game which did not count in the standings. However, the game at Fenway was a regular season game and the loss meant a lot for the Red Sox who were trying to hold onto to First Place in the AL East.

The special place and time of the Red Sox fans' tribute to Mo made me think of today's special date (from a historical perspective). The Gemara in Ta'anis recites that the day of Tu B'Av was a tremendous holiday as the young women would borrow clothes and go out to the fields to dance and find their intended. The concept itself seems foreign and perhaps antithetical to tznius (modesty). However, the day was successful and so many couples found their mates that the dance became a national custom and the day became a celebration and holiday which only rivaled Yom Kippur.

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