Dear Mariano Rivera: In the immortal words of T.I., you can have whatever you like.
All he wants to do is play center field.
OK, so Rivera hasn't actually publicly asked to play center. He simply laughed and said "we'll see" when asked about it, according to the New York Daily News' Peter Botte and Anthony McCarron. But per CBS Sports' Mike Axisa, manager Joe Giradi said he is "absolutely" considering putting Rivera, who is regarded by some as the best athlete on the team, in center.
Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan confirmed the speculation:
Joe Girardi says he is considering allowing Mariano Rivera to play center field. He would do so in Houston if it happened.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 26, 2013
The fact that so many people have talked about this suggests Rivera has probably at least discussed it in the clubhouse—and if he actually wants to, then it's simple:
Rivera can go take a snap under center for the New York Giants if he wants to. He can go jack up a three for the Knicks if he wants to. Hell, he can even go jump atop Palace Malice and ride around Belmont if that's his pleasure.
The man has earned it.
It's sort of impossible to explain in mere words what Rivera has meant to the New York Yankees. In his 19-year career, he has recorded 652 saves, more than anyone else in MLB history. He has been named to 13 All-Star games and helped win five World Series titles. His cutter is synonymous with unhittable.
But while he is an undoubted first-ballot Hall of Famer, Rivera adds on to the fact by being one of the true nice guys of the sport—he's the last player to wear Jackie Robinson's No. 42, he is charitable (he started the Mariano Rivera Foundation), he is a family man to the core (he has been married to his wife, who he met in elementary school, since 1991) and he doesn't get into trouble.
It's impossible not to like him.
Should the Yankees let Mariano Rivera play center field against the Astros?
Mo has been the consummate professional for the past two decades, and as we enter the last three games of his career, he deserves to go out on his own terms.
New York is officially eliminated from the wild-card picture, and Houston was officially eliminated from that same picture sometime around March, so there's no playoff implications from the final series with the Astros.
How cool would it be to see Rivera trot out to center field in the bottom of the eighth inning, and then come out to make the save in the bottom of the ninth (or seventh and eighth, depending on the score)?
That's not rhetorical. The correct answer is chill-inducing cool.
Rivera deserves as many tributes as possible during the final days of his legendary career. This particular one is a little quirky, but it's unique, fun and has very little downside.
You can have whatever you like, Mo. You've earned it.