There is not a more universally respected baseball player -- possibly not a more universally respected athlete, period -- than Mariano Rivera.
That's my biggest takeaway from the overnight reaction to the news his season (and possibly his career) is over, after a freak knee injury shagging BP flies in centerfield, Rivera's favorite ritual.
(Great stream of reactions to the Rivera news over at Quickish -- check it out here.)
When we look back on the generation of baseball that started with the post-strike Yankees dynasty and lasted until, say, the start of Bryce Harper's career, it will be defined by no player as much as Rivera.
Not Jeter. Not Bonds. Not Clemens. PED scandal? Maybe. "Moneyball?" Partially. Big-spending behemoths? A bit.
But all those things evoke mixed reactions. Not Rivera. There is "Enter Sandman." There is No. 42. There is that cutter. There is yet another save. There is postseason brilliance.
There is universal respect and admiration for Mariano Rivera, the finest practitioner of pitching a baseball as we have seen in generations -- one of the greatest players of all time.
Here's to his recovery and an ending to his career befitting his legendary status.