Book Review: The Closer

author: Mariano Rivera & Wayne Coffey  published: 2014 / pages: 273

book summary: The life and career of the greatest baseball closer of all-time, 5-time World Series Champion, Mariano Rivera. 

Marino Rivera was already one of my favourite players. When I finally bought The Closer, it gave me such a deeper appreciation of the only man to ever be unanimously elected to the baseball Hall of Fame. I think what I marvelled the most about the book is the revelations of how connected Marino was to his religion. He never held back on his feelings regarding any situation he found himself in, while always taking a moment to say a prayer and give thanks. Even die-hard baseball fans don’t see those kinds of things on TV, only those close to the team get to know that kind of stuff, which made this book even better than I expected.

I always got pumped up every time that “Enter Sandman” by Metallica would blast over the stadium speakers. I knew what that meant, it meant the greatest closer of all-time was coming in to finish the opponent and win us the game. Although he closed out and saved more games than any pitcher ever, he is living proof that even the great ones have their moments. In the 2001 World Series, Rivera blew Game 7 after entering the game with a 4-2 lead in the ninth. He also had a hand in the epic 2004 comeback of the Boston Red Sox, who trailed the Yankees 3-0 in the series, and 4-2 in Game 4 in the top of the ninth. Rivera did his best when he could, but even sometimes his best wasn’t good enough. Although he moved on from those defeats, there was some around him to wonder if those moments still haunted him or not.

Rivera has been on a pedestal for over two decades in the New York area. Although he is as big of a celebrity as there is, Marino is as humble as they come. I’ll never forget the tale he tells when he goes with his wife and agent to buy a house. How the owners mistreated him as some Latino bum and requested he leave their house immediately. After the confusion settles, Marino and his wife bought that house and still live in today. These moments of racism and social tension are littered throughout the book, but behind every story is Marino reminding us that it is good in everyone and nothing can’t be solved without a little prayer and help from God.

Another story I enjoyed, but almost brought me to tears, was when he injured his knee in 2013. As a Yankees fan, it was the worse thing that could happen to a player not named Derek Jeter. Marino thought about retirement that summer, but the injury derailed his career and gave us the chance to say goodbye in style in 2014. It was heartbreaking to listen to him tell us about the pain and surgery, that he was so sad he couldn’t be with the team. He lived for the game and to be at the ballpark every day. Besides an extended career for one more season, the best thing that happened to him that summer was spending time with his family. Family means everything to him and it was nice to listen to him tell us how much it meant to him.

After I was done reading The Closer I went on YouTube and watch some clips of Mo in action. When I clicked on his final appearance at Yankee Stadium, I had tears in my eyes. I’ll never forget the great moments he provided me as a Yankee fan (which includes the prayer on the mound after 2013 ALCS victory – picture up above). I already thought he was a great baseball player, but The Closer made me realize that not only is he one of the greatest of all-time, he is also one of the greatest human beings of all-time. 10/10

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