It was such an amazing thing to see the Boston Red Sox honor retiring New York Yankee pitcher/closer Mariano Rivera at Fenway Park Sunday night. At first, I had to look at the TV twice to make sure I was really seeing it play out correctly, as here are two fiercely competitive teams who have been battling out one of sport’s greatest rivalries for decades. But yes, there it was, and the way it all unfolded couldn’t have been a classier display of respecting ones competition.
Sure, there was a little comedy in there as well, as the tribute started out with a brief “roast” versus a “toast”. The Red Sox couldn’t not seize the opportunity to jab Rivera for the blown save in Game 4 2004, one of only 5 blown postseason saves in his entire 19 year career that is now coming to a close itself.
That comedic moment then shifted to a more serious tribute and I couldn’t have been more impressed with the accolades given to Rivera by a team and a crowd of fans who wanted to thank him for what he had brought to the game for so many seasons.
Yes, there have been other teams to honor ‘Mo’ in the last couple of months as well, but this was different. This was the biggest rivalry, the biggest competition of this pitcher’s career, and here they were, tipping their hats to him on their turf. They called him the “classiest of competitors” and went on to give him stadium and rivalry memorabilia as well as making a sizable donation to a charity he supports.
Kudos to the Red Sox organization and Boston fans for being able to see beyond the rivalry for a moment and respect the talent, the individual, and the mark that Mariano Rivera will leave on MLB as the greatest closer the game has seen. Quite an impressive gesture to say the least.
Having spent the past 10 years in RPO, I too have forged some strong relationships in what is a very competitive space. I would also say that from the group of better known companies, most of us know each other well, have worked together in our careers at some point, and who knows, may work together again.
We compete against each other in some cases, and in others, we actually refer business to one another where it may be a better fit. Most of us operate with the mentality that respecting one another will get us further than the alternative. I have cheered for my competition when I know they have accomplished great things, and they have returned the accolades when they have heard about Yoh’s success.
Respecting your competition doesn’t make you any less of a competitor; it makes you a more graceful one. Trust me that I want to win just as much today as I did 10 years ago when I entered the RPO space, but I realize that regardless of that drive, it won’t happen every time. However if my record could ever come close to resembling Rivera’s, and I would be referred to as a classy competitor, then that’s a win in itself.