Could Mariano Rivera's injury have been one those divine blessings in disguise?
Are things “meant to be”? Do events in our lives sometimes work in a certain order?
I’ve debated this with Mariano Rivera many times.
Last spring, right after he got hurt, I went to see Mariano at his house. Over the previous off-season, we had discussed his possible retirement many times, and whether last season would be his final one. Mariano still loved baseball, but he had been looking forward to building his church and spending more time with his family.
Then he got injured, and no one knew what Mariano would do next.
So I went over to his house one day after that, with two interns; we needed him to sign some items, and we needed to go over some marketing stuff. Now that Mariano had some spare time, on account of his injury, appearance requests for him were pouring in.
Mariano greeted us at the door, but then he wouldn’t let us in. He pulled me aside and told me he was upset; he’d explain it to me after signing some stuff while we waited outside.So we stayed on the front steps for 10 minutes while he signed. Then the interns left and Mariano finally invited me in.
We sat down. He still looked pretty upset.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
Mo said that he had just found out he needed surgery and wouldn’t be able to play for the rest of the season.
He knew he had a torn ACL, so I asked him if he really thought he could come back the same season?
“Yes,” he said. “I’ve been working hard since the injury and I thought I could work through it and avoid surgery. Now I can’t help the Yankees this season.”
I jumped in.
“You have been wondering about what the end of your career would be like,” I said. “You wanted to get the church built, and to spend more time with your family. God has granted your wish and given you exactly that. He’s given you a window into what life will be like after baseball – and you still have the option to come back next year if you want.”
Sometimes our prayers are answered in strange ways:
I think that for Mo, a time to rest and reflect on baseball from a distance, while getting to spend time at home and live fairly normally (grocery shopping, taking the kids to school, watching them play sports, etc.) was a true blessing.
In effect, Mariano was getting to test drive the rest of his life.
Now he can come back this year, with a totally fresh perspective and batteries, and without the mystery of what awaits him after baseball. And I think this will be one of his best years ever.
Not because he can throw harder or anything like that, but because he’ll have even more appreciation for the game he loves.
Sometimes we need to lose the things we value so that we can find them again.
Sometimes we need to open our minds to the idea that any "crisis" might just be another one of our blessings in disguise.