Mariano Rivera: Not Zen

Mariano Rivera is arguably the greatest relief pitcher who ever lived, and he is inarguably a deeply devout Christian.

In a profile on the occasion of his recent retirement, though, The New York Times absolutely twists itself into knots to avoid using the word “Christian.” GetReligion takes note:

[From the NYT story:] In the high-stress vocation of ninth-inning pitching dominated by theatrical personalities, he was the embodiment of Zen calm — a cool Jedi master among the hotheads, and an almost extraplanetary source of composure and grace in the gritty, often chaotic world of Major League Baseball. …Mariano Rivera understood what Steve Jobs, Lao Tzu and Bruce Lee understood: that simplicity is an art and a strength, a source of joy and beauty and power.

The whole point of the article is to try to describe the source of Rivera’s remarkable maturity, his calmness, his class, his wisdom and the grace with which he related to others. Clearly, this has something to do with religion.

The article makes this clear — kind of. In terms of pure sports, the art of of his legendary cut fastball is at the heart of it story. But so is, well, this man’s soul.

So he radiates “Zen calm” and is “deeply religious.” There’s more:

One baseball analyst attributed Rivera’s success to the “three C’s” — “control, control, control.” Another attributed it to the “four C’s” — “confidence, concentration, control and competitiveness.” To which a Yankees fan might add even more alliteration: constancy, calm, class, composure, continuity and complete command of craft.

Well now, that’s a whole bunch of important word’s beginning with the letter “C.” But is there another important “C” word missing?

As far as the Times is concerned, “Christian” is a word reserved for kooks and weirdos. Mariano Rivera is a beloved figure in New York, so I doubt that it would even cross their minds to apply that word to him.

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