Like the signature pitch Mariano Rivera throws, everyone knew what was coming yesterday and still it cut the baseball soul to hear these words:

“After this year, I am retiring.”

In the end, major league hitters didn’t get to Rivera. Hotel rooms did. He simply has grown tired of being away from home. So at a morning press conference, Rivera began a long goodbye in which he asked for “joy” not sadness.

Nevertheless, there was a funereal quality to the proceedings. All of his teammates lined a side wall silently and reverently. Tributes flowed from power brokers and friends. Finality was the subject, even if Rivera — the definition of on-mound brevity — is now in the midst of the most extended close of his career.

Yet, the most pertinent living eulogies yesterday did not come from the orchestrated press conference. In a fitting coincidence, the Braves were the opponent and it has become accepted wisdom the difference between the Yankees, not the Braves, being a dynasty at the end of the last century was one man — the son of a poor Panamanian fisherman.