Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Howard Simmons/New York Daily News
You have to either be jaded or really hate the Yankees to not love what happened last night at Citi Field, when Mariano Rivera - one of the great ambassadors and most respected of players in sports - ran onto the field.

After an awkward and unnecessary rendition of "Sweet Caroline" (no offense intended, Neil Diamond), Metallica's took over.  I laughed at the notion of playing Mo's entrance music, but as you'll see (if you haven't already), the music, the crowd, and the enormous reception given by his fellow all-stars, indicates that we have a classic All-Star moment.

It is every bit as memorable as Ted Williams in 1999 at Fenway Park or Cal Ripken in 2001. I think it will have that kind of legacy.

It has to eat at the Mets fan today that a Yankee had his entrance music played, received such an incredible ovation, and won the game's MVP award - in their ballpark.

I understand that.  Without question.  It's Tom Seaver winning 300 in The Bronx on Phil Rizzuto Day (even if he was wearing a White Sox uniform).

Now, to the question of why Mo won the MVP.  Look, it was a game dominated by pitching.  The American League combination allowed three hits and one walk in a 3-0 win.  Many thought the night was boring, certainly up until the bottom of the 8th.  But in that moment, 45, 186 spectators, along with both teams, coaching staffs, and support people made some of the best noise of the night.

No doubt there was much love for David Wright, Matt Harvey (who worked out of a first inning jam like a pro) and Mr. Met.  Yet here in the 8th, yes, the EIGHTH, it was all about Mo.

I understand Jim Leyland's decision to pitch him in the 8th inning, given that the NL could have ruined the plan to get Mo the save in the 9th.  I still think you could have somebody else start the inning and Mariano could come on if there had been any trouble, but at this point, it all turned out just fine.

He brought life to the night again.  He did his job - three up, three down.

In a night in which pitching dominated and there was no clear-but MVP, the Farewell Award went to Mariano Rivera, who has been nothing but class throughout a career that has been amazing people since 1995.

It was a way for voters to say "sorry we screwed up and didn't give you a Cy Young Award a long time ago."

Baseball needs more moments like this.  Selfishly, we hate to see him go, but oh what a moment he gave us all.

He was amazed by the groundswell of love.  I have to admit I was overwhelmed as well.  In a building where fans were pleased that Harvey hit Robinson Cano (I mean, really Mets fans?), it was hard to believe that a Yankee, even a respected one, would receive such love.

Incidentally, I have no problem with Harvey hitting Cano.  It wasn't intentional.  No big deal.

But his teammates were in "win it for Mo" mode.  They knew who the MVP was.

Now you - certainly I - wish for a coda to all of this.  That, of course, would be a postseason appearance, just so the best who has ever lived in any season - regular/post/midsummer classic - could step on the hill one more time.

The Yankees have a lot of work to do in that regard.

Other thoughts: For the love of God, stop bashing Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.  If you saw the end, where McCarver welled up as he was asked to sign his score card so that it could donated to the Hall of Fame, you saw the love of two friends who enjoy working and the game that they cover.  I get it.  They're both strong personalities, and often come off smug or arrogant.  But they know what they're doing when they call a game.

McCarver is leaving after this season.  Cut him a break.  The guy has had a great career.  You'll find somebody else to hate next year, I'm quite sure.

I'm hyper-critical of play-by-play broadcasters.  But, maybe because I'm a contrarian, I'll defend these two.

On the radio side, I've said this before: can Jon Sciambi give us just a little more detail and maybe even a boost of excitement?  I'm not saying he's not good - he is - but he can be better.

The All-Star Game is still the best of the big four, in my opinion.  But it shouldn't count.  Ever.

I know it was in New York - hey, look, it's Mayor Big Gulp! - but I never sensed an overwhelming New York edge to it.  In fact, I sensed it wasn't really a big deal.  I'm not saying I'm right.  Just something I felt.

I hope the ratings are good, but I have my doubts.  In part, due to lack of love for baseball, the abundance of baseball available on TV, and interleague play, the All-Star Game isn't what it used to be.  Kids, overall, don't care.

That's sad.

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