Happy 40th Birthday, Mo
I have a lot of dates in my Blackberry calendar. Lunch dates. Doctor’s appointments. Dinner plans. Anniversaries. And birthdays. Lots and lots of birthdays. Birthdays of friends. Birthdays of friends’ kids. Birthdays of family members.
In all these dates – in all these birthdays – there’s only one birthday of someone I don’t know personally. Someone I’ve never met. So why is this date in my calendar?
Because this person deserves to have his birthday noted. But not just in my calendar. In the calendars of every Yankee fan who has ever seen him pitch. Check that – of every Yankee fan. Period. This date belongs to the one, the only, the incomparable, Mariano Rivera.
Mariano’s birthday is November 29, 1969. And today he turns 40.
And like a fine wine, the man just keeps getting better with age. As I said in my recent Blogger Nine Innings Q&A in the Daily News with Jesse Spector, we need to take a moment to really fully appreciate just how awesome Mariano is. Since 1995, Mariano has been mowing down the opposition with such regularity that it’s astonishing. I’ve lived in New York City longer than Mariano has been pitching for the Yankees (gasp!), and yet it seems like yesterday he was a rookie.
Fast forward to 2009. In his 15th season. 14 years after his Major League debut. Think about it rationally. Logically. Did you really expect a 39-year-old coming off off-season shoulder surgery to have as incredible and dominant a season as Mo did this past year? Admit it. You didn’t. You couldn’t. How can he possibly keep doing this? Keep fooling the opposition. Sawing off their bats. Making them shake their heads in disbelief.
At the risk of sounding way too cheesy on his birthday, Mariano has been a gift to Yankee fans. I’m always surprised at how many people – Yankee fans included – take him for granted. We are truly fortunate to see him pitch. And if having Mariano’s birthday in my calendar is one way to express my gratitude, so be it.
Happy Birthday, Mo. And here’s to many many more.