Goodbyes are never easy no matter the situation. In sports, saying goodbye is different with every athlete or coach. Fans of teams get attached to the point that they know the athlete and have a personal connection — social media has only made this connection even stronger. There is no classier athlete than Mariano Rivera — even Red Sox fans respect him.
For a couple of years now, the baseball world has known Rivera was planning on walking away from the game he has dominated for nearly two decades. The last five months have been a joy to see Rivera get a gift from every team the Yankees visited and we also were honored to see him go out of his way to talk to the people who work behind the scenes at each ball park and just have a nice conversation with them. Ultimately that's who Rivera is — a great man.
Thursday night's game was supposed to be a meaningless September game in the Bronx with all in attendance wanting to see a Yankee win, but more than anything wanting to get a glimpse of No. 42 one last time. Rivera got four outs and was taken out of the game with two outs in the ninth inning, but there was a twist. Yankee manager Joe Girardi made the last second decision to have long time Yankee greats Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter come out to the mound and remove Rivera from a game at home for the final time.
What ensued was such an emotional scene you would have thought it was the climax of an Oscar-winning major motion picture. As Pettitte and Jeter approached the mound, Rivera lost it. He gave Pettitte a giant hug as 20 years of memories flowed through his body and he began to cry. These weren't ordinary teammates. The three Yankee greats at the end of their career have known each other for two decades and delivered five championships since 1996. Along with Jorge Posada, they were nicknamed the "Core Four." They are a group that baseball will never see again.