By Mike Harrington
Mariano Rivera's Q &A with Blue Jays employees Tuesday afternoon was so riveting that there was no way to get everything that was discussed into my column in Wednesday's editions of The News.
There are only two "Mo-Ments of Thanks" sessions left, the final one of four at Yankee Stadium and one at Houston on the season's last weekend. Rivera' s official day of honor in the Bronx on the field will be Sunday, Sept. 22 against the Giants.
So here' are some more notes/pearls of wisdom from the game's greatest closer:
His post-retirement plans: "I'm gonna be with my family. I've been away from my family for 23 years. They've been supportive of my whole careeer. I want to be able to enjoy them. My kids, my wife. To attend their games, travel with them. baseball is a beautiful game but it demands a lot, a lot of sacrifice. ... It's taken a lot of time away from my family."
On naming former Seattle DH Edgar Martinez his toughest out: Thank God he retired. They're all special. They're all tough because they are professionals. Everybody in the big leagues they are all good. Some of them are special players. Edgar Martinez was one. For me, it was just a pain to get him out. I couldn't get him out."
Feeling in the bullpen: "I get kind of anxious in the seventh inning to be part of the game. Once I come into the game, everything disappears. Everything is just me and the catcher. I've been blessed that I can block all those things out and just focus. That's the main reason I was able to be in baseball so long."
His favorite saves: "To me, they all are special. It doesn't depend on me. I depend on my teammates. If my teammates don't score any runs, I don't think I'll be saving games. I will never start speaking about myself, about how "Oh, I have done this or have done that." It's all "we as a team accomplished this, we as a team have accomplished that." To me, they all are special, from No. 1 to No. 6oo-whatever."
Yankees he wanted to meet he got the chance to: Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio.
Celebrities he's glad he met: President George W. Bush, Billy Crystal
Autographs: Rivera took a picture with each employee and handed them an autographed baseball. The guy who plays Ace, the Blue Jays mascot, drew big laughs from Rivera after their picture as he pulled out a sharpie, signed a picture of him in costume and handed The Sandman his own autograph.
If you want to see Rivera pitch, tonight would be a good night to head up the QEW to the Rogers Centre. Rivera hasn't pitched since saving Sunday's win in Tampa and the Yankees have Thursday off. Even if it's not a save situation, Joe Girardi is almost certain to give him at least an inning against the Bisonesque Blue Jays lineup so he doesn't sit idle for five days.