Remember back in 2012 when Mariano Rivera got injured shagging fly balls during batting practice and missed the rest of the season? Could it have been one of those divine blessing 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.
Right after Mariano got hurt, I went to see him at his house. Over the previous off-season, we had discussed his possible retirement many times, and whether that year would be his final one. He 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.
When I visited his home I was accompanied by two interns from Steiner Sports. We needed him to sign some items, and review some marketing materials. Due to his injury, Mariano had some spare time and requests for his appearance came pouring in.
Mariano greeted us at the door, but wouldn’t let us in. He pulled me aside and revealed to me he was upset. He said he would explain further after signing some items. We waited patiently on his front steps for 10 minutes while he signed. When the interns left, Mariano finally invited me in. We sat down and he still looked pretty upset.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
He responded saying 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 would have been able to come back the same season.
“Yes,” he said. “I’ve been working hard since the injury and thought I could work through it and avoid surgery. Now I can’t help the Yankees this season.”
I interrupted, “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 for Mo, a time to rest and reflect on baseball from a distance while getting to spend time at home and live a fairly normal life (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.
Of course, Mariano ended up coming back with a completely new perspective and batteries, and without the mystery of what awaits him after baseball. 44 saves and a 2.11 ERA later, he had one of his best years ever as he called it quits.
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.