It's Time to Retire Pre-Retirement Announcements
As was reported on this site and numerous others, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera officially announced on Saturday that this will be his final season playing baseball. It goes without saying that when Rivera throws his final pitch he will exit baseball as the greatest closer to ever play the game. Even those who strongly dislike the Yankees, such as myself, it's hard not to like a player as soft spoken and deadly-efficient as Mo Rivera. That being said, was it really necessary for the guy to hold a press conference in March to announce something that seemingly won't happen until October? I, for one, think the time has come that we retired the pre-retirement press conference among sports stars.
It was no secret that Rivera was looking to hang up his spikes. In fact, prior to blowing out his knee shagging fly balls in Kansas City last May it was widely believed that the 2012 season would be his last. After the injury, Rivera himself even seemed to hint that his baseball career might be over. Only after reflection did he declare his intention "not to go out like that" and return in 2013. But his latest statement seems tad more calculated. We are not that far removed from the Super Bowl, Ray Lewis's preemptive retirement statement, and the Ravens riding the emotional wave to an NFL championship. Does Rivera think his proclamation will rally the troops for one last World Series run? If so, this is already getting pretty old. Even if that's not the case, the idea of a sports superstar giving everyone a months-early heads up that they are calling it quits comes off as a tad egomaniacal.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's nice that fans get a chance to see their heroes play one last time before they hang 'em up. It's just the concept of a full-blown sports farewell tour that rubs me the wrong way. I can remember guys like Dr. J and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar receiving an embarrassing collection of parting gifts from virtually every opponent they visited during their final campaigns. Among other things in his haul, Kareem received a Rolls Royce, a saxophone, a sailboat, a gold nugget, and a Harley. (Can you imagine Kareem on a Harley?) I'm not saying that Mariano will be showered with the same types of gifts or even wants to be, but the thought of any millionaire athlete feeling the need to alert everyone that "Hey, I'm not gonna be around next year" is a bit of overkill. For Rivera, 19 years of memories, fan adoration, and hardware should be enough. The same goes for Ray Lewis and any other so-called "team player" who wants a little "me" time before heading out the door.