Anyone with a heartbeat that watched Major League Baseball’s All-Star game had goosebumps when Mariano Rivera took the mound in the bottom of the eight inning. With a 3-0 American League lead “Enter Sandman” echoed from the Citi Field speakers as Mariano exited the bullpen and took the mound. Receiving a standing ovation not only from the crowd, but from teammates, opposing players and coaches, it was a true sign of respect for greatness. Rivera was the only player on the field as he tipped his hat to the fans for what would be his final all-star appearance.
Rivera, as expected pitched a 1-2-3 scoreless 8th inning. In his nine all-star appearances, his stat line now reads: 9 IP, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K & 4 SV; Flawless. When asked what pitching his final all-star game in New York meant, Rivera replied “priceless.” Rivera was also the recipient of the games Most Valuable Player Award. While Rivera has never had a name on the back of his jersey, he won this award off prestige. He becomes MLB’s first player to win a World Series MVP and All-Star game MVP.
Many wondered why AL manger Jim Leyland didn’t have the greatest closer of all-time come in to record the save in the ninth inning instead of pitching him in the eight. The stage couldn’t have been set any better for Rivera to record his fifth all-star game save. American League outfielder Torii Hunter even eluded to that being the plan in his pre game speech to teammates. Leyland’s logic was preventing any National League comeback he wanted to make sure Rivera had an appearance. The NL had three hits at this point of the game and never really threatened.
While Mariano’s 8th inning appearance was breathtaking, if that was the plan he could theoretically pitched in any inning. It would have just been more fitting for the best to ever do it, get a chance to do it. With an injury plagued Yankee lineup, Rivera more than likely won’t get another storybook ending as in, saving the final game of the 2013 World Series and riding off into the sunset as the games all-time save leader.
There hasn’t been a more magical all-star game moment since Magic Johnson’s return to the NBA in 1992. We might not be wowed like that again for a while, and for once, we can say this time baseball got it right.