Red Sox roast Rivera for his last game at Fenway

Red Sox roast Rivera for his last game at Fenway
September 16, 2013, 12:45 pm
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BOSTON -- The Red Sox have presented many impressive ceremonies and tributes over the last few years at Fenway Park. The celebration of Fenway’s 100th anniversary in April 2012 when they brought back scores of alumni, memorializing many special moments of the last century, comes to mind as one of the finest.
The tribute Sunday night for Mariano Rivera, baseball’s most dominant closer and a certain future first-ballot Hall of Famer, does not. Rivera, 43, plans to retire after this season, his 19th major league season.
The overly long ‘tribute’ was more a roast -- as master of ceremony Dave O’Brien said it would be -- and a commemoration of Rivera’s most regrettable moment as a closer, celebrating the play that helped launch the Sox to their first World Series championship in 86 years.
Sox players, along with principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, president/CEO Larry Lucchino, general manager Ben Cherington, and manager John Farrell formed a semi-circle behind the mound. Rivera, surrounded by his teammates, looked on from the Yankees dugout, leaning on the railing, before eventually joining the Sox on the field, where the team presented him with some gifts.
“He’s a role model, and I mean that in the greatest sense that I can say it,”  Farrell said before the game. “Everyone should look up to him, the way he lives his life.”
During the ceremony, Rivera would again demonstrate why.
As the ceremony began, the Boston Cello Quartet played Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman,’ Rivera’s signature entrance song.  It may have been the classiest, if most curious, rendition the heavy metal song has ever had.
The Sox began with a video of the walk Rivera issued to Kevin Millar in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, when the Sox were down by three games on the brink of elimination. Dave Roberts pinch-ran, stole second, and scored on Bill Mueller’s single to center field, tying the game, which the Sox won in 12 innings, on their way to a phenomenal series comeback, eventually sweeping the Cardinals in the World Series. The video showed Millar, Roberts, and Mueller giving detailed accounts of the play -- not likely one Rivera needs to be reminded about. That blown save was one of just five in the postseason in his 19-season career.
For all his accomplishments on the mound, arguably one of Rivera’s finest performances at Fenway came the following April, on Opening Day, with the Yankees as the Sox home-opener opponent, watching as the Sox raised their World Series banner. Rivera was given a tremendous ovation by the Fenway crowd that day when the Yankees were introduced, which was also part of Sunday night’s video. Rivera, one of the most charismatic and classiest players in baseball, received the ovation that day in true Rivera fashion, tipping his cap, laughing at his own expense.
But, he’s also had plenty of success in his career at the Sox’ expense: Fifty-eight of his major-league leading 651 career regular season saves, have been against the Sox, against whom he has a 2.86 ERA. Including the playoffs, in 127 career games, he is 15-7 with 64 saves and a 2.59 ERA.
O’Brien said at the start,  Sunday’s ceremony would be “less of a toast and more of a roast.”  But, O’Brien did cover Rivera’s many accomplishments, as did the video after a ‘But Seriously . . .’ text appeared on-screen.
Before the game, Rivera, who did not address the crowd during the ceremony, was asked about the Sox’ plans for the tribute.
“It’s different. Let’s put it that way,” Rivera said. “I’m humbled and I’m honored. I appreciate what they’re doing.”
He was also asked about his memories of playing at Fenway.
“It’s always great games,” he said. “Never easy. It’s not. Big moments, big games. Every game means something.
“The games are spectacular.
“It’s a blessing. Hopefully, it’s not the last time.”
After the game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was asked if he thought the ceremony was tasteful.
"They gave him some nice gifts," Girardi replied.
Indeed, the Sox did give Rivera some very nice gifts. A generous donation to his charitable foundation, a signed No. 42 placard from the Fenway scoreboard, a Fenway seat with the No. 42 on its back, a pitching rubber from the visitors’ bullpen. But, they also gave him a cartoonish portrait depicting Rivera on Opening Day 2005 at Fenway, smiling, waving to the crowd. Think he’s going to be hanging that in his house any time soon?
The gifts were nice, but a quick, unscientific poll of the Yankees media gave the consensus that the nicest gift Rivera has received so far on his farewell tour was from the Twins -- a rocking chair made of broken bats. Perfect for the guy heading into retirement after making a career of breaking opponents’ bats, and often their hearts.
Rivera took the ceremony in stride, laughing, hugging and shaking hands with the Sox players and brass, waving and tipping his cap to the crowd.
A gesture in class.