There’s a moment toward the end of FOX’s upcoming “Being: Mariano Rivera” documentary where the famed Yankees’ closer and Red Sox slugger David Ortiz are eating lunch together at Boston restaurant reflecting on the life of a professional athlete.
All throughout the 2013 season, Rivera had been feted by opposing teams on his retirement tour. The soft-spoken, reserved Rivera reveals that the entire process — from the pregame ceremonies at opposing parks, to fans snapping cell phone pictures at his every turn, to the countless gifts bestowed upon him — was taking a toll on him.
“I can’t wait for the moment when this is over,” Rivera says, “I’m ready for it already, brother. … there’s no desire anymore. We keep doing this for what? Are we doing it for boastfulness or the love of the game or because we don’t want to do anything else?”
There’s a reverent, if somber, tone throughout the entirety of “Being: Mariano Rivera.” It’s a very candid look at the all-time Major League saves leader, a man who throughout most of his Hall of Fame career let his nearly unhittable cutter do most of the talking. At times Rivera felt more like a saint in pinstripes than a regular old baseball player, the doc doesn’t exactly dispel that notion.
If you’re a Yankees fan, you’re going to definitely want to make time to watch it out when it airs on FOX this Sunday, either before or after NFL football depending where you live. To be safe, set your DVR for the replay Tuesday night on FOX Sports 1. If you’re not a Yankees fan, but appreciate baseball it’s worth your time to get a look at Rivera without any of the hagiography of the YES Network and their “Yankeeography” series, which can be nausea-inducing for non-Bombers fans.
The documentary starts as Rivera drives to Yankee Stadium on Sept. 22, the day the team honored him on the field and Metallica played “Enter Sandman” in the outfield – a strange pairing that seems only odder in the doc – and ends with him at his home surrounded by his family. Family and faith are two topics continually touched on throughout the piece.
Early on Rivera tells the camera, “To me faith is everything because I have faith good things are gonna happen.”
That’s the consistent message from Rivera, how it was God’s plan for him was to become a baseball player. His big post-retirement plans are rebuilding a church in New Rochelle, N.Y.
“No doubt (born to play baseball),” Rivera says “I think that God choose me to play baseball, because I like the game but I didn’t love the game. It was totally different. I loved the game of soccer. Soccer was my game.”
Growing up in Puerto Caimito, Panama, it was only by chance that he wound up with a Major League contract after pitching in a game out of necessity. From there the doc takes a fairly standard route, taking us through Rivera’s career, making a big stop at Kaufman Stadium where he tore his ACL shagging fly balls in center field in May 2012. Of particular note are some scenes of Rivera in physical therapy. Throughout his career, which began with a call-up in 1995 after five long years in the minors, we almost never saw Rivera sweat. Watching him struggle through rehab is eye-opening.
There are the standard talking head spots with Yankees heroes like Andy Pettitte, Paul O’Neil, John Wetteland and Jorge Posada, but those are brief. Most of the piece is Rivera speaking in his own, mostly hushed words. The access FOX has is top notch, going from inside the locker room at Citi Field during this summer’s All-Star game, to a tender moment at Yankees Old Timer’s day with Yogi Bererra, whom he calls “papa.” Perhaps the best moment is the quiet exchange between Rivera and Rachel Robinson as they unveil a plaque in Monument Park for Jackie Robinson.
The word most used throughout the documentary by others to describe Rivera is “class.”
Watching this you come away with a better picture of Rivera and why he was so revered by teammates and opponents alike. It’s hard to think of an athlete, especially one playing for a prominent team like the Yankees, anything quite like Rivera. “Being: Mariano Rivera” sheds a little light on this man of faith, who happened to be the greatest closer of all-time.
This Rivera infographic isn’t associated with “Being: Mariano Rivera” but is worth taking a look at.