A press conference was held on August 18, 1992, for the Boston Celtics to announce the retirement of Larry Bird. Senior executive vice president Dave Gavitt said a few words, followed by team president Red Auerbach. Finally, Larry approached the podium and began to speak.
“Well, this is a little bit tough today, but we’re gonna try to get through it as best we can.”
It was the end of an era, as one of the greatest players of an entire generation called it quits after 13 seasons.
His final regular season game was four months prior, played in Larry’s home state of Indiana. He nearly recorded a triple-double, with a stat line of 16 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists.
Prior to tipoff, there was no pageantry, and the Pacers did not give Larry a silly present like a key to the city, or a basketball made of hickory.
The Celtics opponent didn’t celebrate the career of one of their players, and the Pacers’ fans didn’t give him a standing ovation. The two teams played a regular season basketball game like it was a regular season basketball game, and nothing more.
Fast forward 31 years to Oakland-Almeda County Coliseum, and the Athletics giving a $90 bottle of wine to Miguel Cabrera in honor of his illustrious career. Earlier in the season, the Dodgers had given the Tigers slugger Hollywood Star, and the Texas Rangers honored him with a custom-made horse saddle.
Why did the teams do this, and how did they know this would be his last season? It’s because, after the 2022 season, Miggy announced that the 2023 Detroit Tigers season would be his last.
No offense to Miguel Cabrera, but retirement tours are getting old
It has become commonplace for stars to announce their retirement prior to the start of their last season, and then spend the season collecting gifts from every team they play.
In 2013, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera took the retirement tour. The Boston Red Sox gave him a No. 42 from their scoreboard, as he was the last MLB player to wear the number. The Minnesota Twins gave him a rocking chair made of splintered bats. When Derek Jeter followed in his teammate's tour footsteps the following year, he was gifted anything from bronze bats to cowboy boots.
Isn’t it time we stopped placating the egos of these prima donna mega stars? Is it too much to ask for a professional athlete to walk away from the game with the grace and class of Larry Bird? Apparently, it is.
Miguel Cabrera will not be the last professional athlete to pirouette around the warning track of every stadium to celebrate the swan song of their career. It’s important that these individuals be celebrated every second of the day to remind them that they are better than most. They are idols to be worshipped by the beer-guzzling adult men in baseball jerseys obnoxiously shouting from the cheap seats.
They are so self-important. They are so self-involved, or maybe deep down they are just self-conscious and need the reassurance that they matter.
And I know I’m probably coming across as the grumpy old man yelling “Get off my lawn!” but I believe we are coming into an era of athletes who were given ninth place trophies as little kids, and now want an award for everything they do.
Miguel Cabrera is an amazing ball player. He deserves to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I’m sure he’s an amazing guy and a great teammate, and if the Tigers want to throw him a going-away bash I have no qualms with that, but he doesn’t need to be celebrated like a king by every team he didn’t play for.