NEW YORK -- A dozen former New York Yankees turned out to honor Mariano Rivera at the unveiling of his Monument Park plaque Sunday at Yankee Stadium, which is a dozen more than the number that came out to say farewell to Alex Rodriguez at his Stadium finale Friday night.
Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez, David Cone and John Wetteland, as well as Mo's former managers Joe Torre and Joe Girardi, his former pitching coach, Mel Stottlemyre, and the Yankees former trainer, Gene Monahan, all stood out in the 95-degree heat to watch Mo accept the honor, and to see him fire one more strike across the plate as the ceremonial first pitch.
But only one of those people bothered to show up Friday for A-Rod: Mariano Rivera.
"Being there for him, it was my pleasure," Rivera said after the 20-minute ceremony, in which he was presented with a framed replica of his plaque as well as a ring with his name and the No. 42 spelled out in diamonds. "For me, it was a great time that I had with him when we played together. When I played with (Alex), I didn’t see anyone who loved the game the way he did."
Rivera, who (deservedly) enjoyed the luxury of being able to choose the time of his retirement, chose not to share his thoughts on how the 12-year association between A-Rod and the Yankees ended.
"Only Alex and the Yankees know what happened, or know why they did it," he said. "One thing I can tell you is, I was proud of him. He was here through tough times, through good times, adversity, he was there. He never hid. That was the beauty of him. But at the same time it was time to go. He said it was time to go, and I don’t second-guess him."
"The Yankees are doing what they need to do to get back in competition," he said. "I don’t say they don’t have a team to still compete, because they do. They’re doing it with the youngsters that they have now and they’re doing it with the veterans. This is a great combination. These youngsters have to take advantage of the opportunity they have now. They can still show a lot of good things this season. But I think they’re doing the right thing and going the right way."