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Personal tragedy touches Yanks
10/11/2004 9:36 PM ET
NEW YORK -- October tragedies come in different shades. While the Red Sox are listening to another chorus of their postseason failures, the Yankees once again have to deal with the real thing.

Mariano Rivera's absence to attend the Tuesday funeral of two family members electrocuted at his Panama home -- and his uncertain return in time for Tuesday night's game -- strikes a painfully familiar chord.

Coping with the intrusion of such personal tragedy is not something at which you want to be experienced. But the Yankees are.

"We've shown to be pretty tough in situations like this," said New York manager Joe Torre, the voice of experience.

They have had to tough out an uncommon number of these situations in the nine postseasons that have marked Torre's tenure in the Bronx:

  • On the off-day prior to the Yankees' Game 6 clincher in the 1996 World Series, Frank Torre underwent a heart transplant in a New York hospital. Joe Torre nervously paced the halls. Another brother, Rocco, had died of a heart attack four months earlier.

    Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
    Game 1 at New York         NYY 10, BOS 7
    Game 2 at New York         NYY 3, BOS 1
    Game 3 at Boston Fri. Oct. 15 8:00 p.m. FOX  
    Game 4 at Boston Sat. Oct. 16 7:30 p.m. FOX  
    Game 5* at Boston Sun. Oct. 17 7:30 p.m. FOX  
    Game 6* at New York Tue. Oct. 19 8:00 p.m. FOX  
    Game 7* at New York Wed. Oct. 20 8:00 p.m. FOX  
     * If necessary
  • During the 1999 World Series, Ambrosio Sojo, a New Jersey cab driver, died suddenly of a ruptured blood vessel. His son, popular Yankees infielder Luis, left the team to accompany the body back to the family's native Venezuela.

  • Five days later, Paul O'Neill's father died. Pitcher David Cone was moved to note, "We earned a master's degree in coping with misfortune this year."

    "It brings perspective. We're playing merely a game," Torre said Monday afternoon.

    "If (Rivera) is here, it will be wonderful. If not, we understand he has to deal with some issues.

    "We do no want to get into the mode of thinking that if things don't go well, this is the reason."

    The Yankees will have a private plane at the disposal of Rivera, who intends to make his way back to New York following the funeral at an undisclosed time.

    "He knows we told him, 'Take all the time you need,'" said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. "He's where he needs to be right now. Possibly, he'll be here for the game.

    "If he's here, great. If not, we still have a game plan."

    Torre then would use Tom Gordon to close, something at which he has experience. But the manager had no doubts that, whatever time Rivera shows up, he'll be ready to go to work in the ninth inning.

    "If Mo is here," Torre said, "I know he'll say, 'Give me the ball.' I have no question about that."

    This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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