On Tuesday night, Major League Baseball held its annual All-Star Game, pitting the best players from the National League against the best from the American League. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Mariano Rivera, the longtime New York Yankee who is widely hailed as the best closer in baseball history, took the mound to his theme song, Metallica's "Enter Sandman."
This was Rivera's 13th All-Star appearance, and his last. At 43, Rivera is retiring after this season. In a sign of the esteem his colleagues hold him in, Rivera was alone on the field. The fans and players gave him a 90-second standing ovation. In one of the night's weirder moments, Fox Sports analyst Tim McCarver paid homage to Rivera by reciting the lyrics to Metallica's 1991 hit.
Rivera had a solid inning. He threw 16 pitches, including 11 strikes, and — with a little help from the outfield — sent all three batters he faced back to the bench. He was named the game's MVP, earning a little backlash. Here's the Cleveland Indians' Brett Myers:
Appreciate Mariano Rivera for all he has done but, MVP???? No way! Mariano is a class act and respect him but the media rules who wins!
— Brett Myers (@TheOutlaw39) July 17, 2013
That's ridiculous, says Troy Machir at SportingNews. "Rivera earned it. Maybe not on Tuesday night, but over his career." It was inevitable he would get the MVP if he didn't allow any runs, "because that's what you do for the greatest closer of all time."
Why did the legendary closer not close — pitching the eighth inning rather than the ninth? As SportsCenter explains below, in case there was no bottom of the ninth for him to pitch: