Monday, May 4, 2015

Audiobook Review: The Closer

The Closer: My Story (2014)
Written by Mariano Rivera with Wayne Coffey
Narrated by Michael Kay
Run Time: 7 hours and 25 minutes
Publisher: Hachette Audio/Little, Brown

In my years of being a baseball fan, I have always rooted against the Yankees (I'm a D-Backs and Red Sox fan, but of course, as I write this, the Sox are getting swept by the Yanks). Yankee players like Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Roger Clemens have earned my dislike over the years for a variety of reasons, but there were two Yankees that I had the utmost respect for: Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

Rivera's autobiography The Closer is a terrific read, even for us born-and-raised Yankee haters. His humility is on every page, from his upbringing in Panama through his minor league career and into his days of walking out of the Yankee Stadium bullpen to Metallica's "Enter Sandman." A devout Christian, Rivera leaned on his faith throughout the highs (five world championships, 13 All-Star appearances) and the lows (injuries, key losses) of his career. I can't say I was all that bummed about hearing his losses since two of his big ones came against my teams, but hearing his descriptions of the games made me realize how personally he took them. He felt he let his entire team down and that sting didn't leave.

Role models in sports are hard to come by, especially in a sport that has been wracked with steroid scandals, egotistical players and contracts totaling north of $250 million. But Mo was never any of these things. I genuinely enjoyed hearing how he came up to the big leagues and had to adjust to living in America. His love for his wife Clara is evident every time he talks about her and how much of a pillar she was for him during his playing days. He mentions his faith often and it was a welcome perspective in my view, but it never felt overbearing.

I typically don't care for Michael Kay when he announces games (his victory chant of "Thaaaaaaaaaa Yankees win" is particularly annoying), so I proceeded with caution. He wasn't all that bad, but I got the sense that he was more comfortable recalling in-game moments. Considering the book is short in audiobook terms, clocking in at less than 8 hours, Kay reads Rivera's story at a quick and steady pace. I listened to it in one sitting as I was doing some house work.

Rating: 4/5 stars. Yankee fans will obviously enjoy this one, though there are universal themes of faith and perseverance in it that should make it accessible to everybody. Even us Red Sox fans.

The book is available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook formats. A paperback version from Back Bay Books is set to hit bookshelves May 5.

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