A.L. Shutouts N.L., 3-0; Mariano Rivera is MVP
By Howard Goldin
Photo by Bill Menzel
Flushing, NY---The MLB stars of today and tomorrow were showcased at Citi Field in New York City on Tuesday night at the 84th MLB All-Star Game. Two of New York’s star hurlers appropriately opened, Matt Harvey, and closed, Mariano Rivera, the performance. Tomorrow was especially well represented by 39 first time All-Stars. Today and the past could not have been better represented than by Mariano Rivera.
The sold-out crowd of 45,186, a record attendance at Citi Field, was predominantly comprised of Mets fans. They roundly cheered the announcement of any name associated with the orange and blue, Matt Harvey, David Wright, Terry Collins, Davey Johnson and Carlos Beltran and jeered the players from their National League East rivals Atlanta and Philadelphia.
Appropriately, Tom Seaver, a man they called “The Franchise”, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The starting pitcher for the National League was Matt Harvey of the Mets, the third Met hurler to start an All-Star Game. The other two, Seaver and Doc Gooden were in the ballpark.
The first player to leave the contest was Robinson Cano. Following Mike Trout, who doubled on the first pitch of the game, the Yankees second sacker was hit in the right quad by a Harvey pitch. After walking to first base, he was replaced by a pinch runner.
Both Cano and Harvey spoke about the unfortunate accident to reporters during the game. Harvey explained what he did, “Obviously the last thing I wanted to do was go out there and possibly injure someone…We had called fastball in there…I didn’t want to get it in there that much…I was hoping he was going to get out of the way, but unfortunately, he didn’t.”
Cano accepted Harvey’s on-the-field apology because he did not believe it was more than accidental. Cano said the advice he was given for his right quad contusion was “just put ice on it, the x-ray was negative and get some rest.” Cano is hopeful of being able to play in the Yankees’ next game on Friday. Cano, who raised his batting average to .302 in his last game on Sunday, has been the offensive leader of the team this season.
The first run of the game was scored by the American League in the fourth.
Miguel Cabrera doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jose Bautista in the fourth. The run broke a 17 inning A.L. scoreless streak. In the following inning, a fielder’s choice at second hit by J.J. Hardy pushed a second run across the plate for the American League. A double by Jason Kipnis in the eighth drove in the final run of the game. The three A.L. runs were more than they had tallied in the previous three games.
The National League had been shut out with only three hits through the first seven frames, but the A.L. skipper Jim Leyland intended to keep his promise that Mariano Rivera would pitch in his final All-Star Game. He explained his reasoning for bringing in Rivera in the eighth rather than the ninth, “For obvious reasons, if they [N.L.] scored enough runs there wouldn’t have been a [bottom of the] ninth. I was trying to manipulate to get Mariano in at the right time.”
Rivera’s entrance was a unique and special moment in baseball history. His theme, “Enter Sandman” was played in a park other than Yankee Stadium for the first time. As Neil Diamond had just finished performing “Sweet Caroline” on the field, there were no players on the field. The crowd stood and gave a rousing ovation to the celebrated closer. The players on both teams, in the dugout and in the bullpen, joined in the standing ovation. Rivera tipped his cap to all sections of the stands.
Rivera later described his feelings of the scene, “Everything has been a surprise tonight. It was amazing. I see both teams out of the dugout cheering and applauding. I have no words for it. I was out there alone with my catcher. It was so weird. I didn’t know what to do.”
After several minutes, the A.L. defense joined Rivera on the field. With the pro-Mets and pro-N.L. crowd supporting his every pitch, Rivera lived up to everyone’s expectations by retiring the N.L. All-Stars in 1-2-3 order. First baseman Prince Fielder handed Rivera the baseball as they were walking off the field to the cheers of the fans and other players. The first to greet Rivera with a big hug before he entered the dugout was Justin Verlander of the Tigers.
Neither the team uniform jersey nor the league cap was a barrier to the respect in which every All-Star holds Rivera. Many explained their esteem for Rivera during the weekend, but the words of his Yankees teammate Robinson Cano is a good representation of how he is viewed as a player, a teammate and a human being, “I would say he’s [Rivera] the perfect player. That’s what you want in your life. You want to be successful, you want to be given respect by everyone in the game and outside the game, and always be humble.”
To cap off the evening properly, Rivera was awarded the Chevrolet Most Valuable Player Award for the game. At a post-game press conference, Rivera responded to the award, “I can’t describe it. As a team player, you don’t look for these things. I’m grateful for it.” He closed the conference with words and thoughts that exhibit who he is, “I give thanks to God for everything, my children, my wife, and to play in this All-Star Game.”