In the last two weeks, countless articles have been written about Mariano Rivera as his retirement approached - and I read many of them. In this post, I am taking a bit of a different angle as one of my all-time favorite baseball players retires. Below are some of the lessons I have learned from Mariano Rivera. Be a good person. Brandon Steiner once told me that Mariano is a better person than he is a pitcher, which is hard to believe. However, with the stories that have filtered out recently about his farewell tour, which included delivering a pizza to a long time stadium worker in Oakland, as well as a touching story about a family that recently lost a young child in Kansas City, it's apparent to me that Brandon was correct.
Class above all else. In an age of over-the-top celebrations, I can never remember Mariano getting overly excited about a win other than those that clinched a playoff series. He did his job with class and never embarrassed an opponent, which is probably why he received a standing ovation from both dugouts at both the All Star game and his last appearance at Yankee Stadium.
Know why you are successful and don't try to be someone else. People say he had one pitch, the cutter. However, students of the game know that in addition to the cutter, he also threw a two-seam fastball. He didn't try to develop new pitches or pitch like someone else. He knew how to get hitters out, his way, and stuck with that through the duration of his Hall of Fame career.
Own your mistakes. Game 4 against the Indians in 1997. Game 7 against the Diamondbacks in 2001. Game 4 against the Red Sox in 2004. All postseason blown saves. After each one, Mariano stood at his locker, answered every question from every reporter and owned his performance. He didn't pass off any blame. He simply said that he didn't get the job done, gave credit to the other teams for beating him, and moved on. Which leads too...
Have a short memory. If you are overwhelmed by today's failures, or successes, you can't be at your best when the next opportunity arises. When I first entered this business, a deal I had worked on died as the lease was ready to be executed. I was devastated. A senior broker gave me some great advice - never get too high and never get too low. It's the nature of the business. Seems like it's the nature of being a relief pitcher too.
Have humility and share the praise. Mariano was always quick to share the credit for the wins with the starting pitchers and other teammates. After all, without them, he wouldn't be in a position to get the save. We have so many people that work on each deal that we do including lawyers, construction experts, building management, tenants, landlords, etc. It's impossible for deals to get done without the whole team doing their respective jobs.
Share. Roy Halladay of the Phillies credits Mariano with teaching him the cutter. While Mariano was fined in the Yankees kangaroo court for helping an opponent, that shows the kind of individual he is. He also spent countless hours mentoring others in the Yankee bullpen. Being a gracious competitor and a mentor was obviously a priority for him.
Have a great theme song. Wouldn't it be great if we could all pick a song that would play when we enter the room? Just kidding. However, it should be noted that the Hard Rock Cafe has retired Enter Sandman by Metallica from all of their locations, except Yankee Stadium.
Mariano Rivera is not only the greatest relief pitcher in the history of the game, but a great teacher as well. I hope he enjoys his retirement...he earned it!