So welcome to the ’13 All-Star Game. That’s 1913, in its dead-ball-days style, more than 2013. The American League won, 3-0; its runs did not really score on a sacrifice fly by Ty Cobb, an infield groundout by Stuffy McInnis and a misplayed flyball by Casey Stengel. It just felt that way.
Actually, Jose Bautista’s lazy fly brought home the great Miguel Cabrera, who had doubled, while J.J. Hardy’s forceout scored Baltimore teammate Adam Jones, who had doubled. And the Phillies’ Domonic Brown butchered a Jason Kipnis liner as badly as the Ol’ Professor ever botched one for Brooklyn. At least Casey put a sparrow under his hat to release when the crowd booed him. He bowed, doffed his hat and gave ’em . . . the bird.
This game, for all its postseason weight, probably will be remembered for brief moments, like 101-mph fastballs from Aroldis Chapman of the Reds and a throw from behind third by Manny Machado that looked like a big whip crack with a ball exploding from it and blazing across the infield.
Prince Fielder even tripled with a 275-pound belly flop into third base.
No moment, however, will match the last time “Enter Sandman” is played in an all-star game for Mariano Rivera. The AL dugout emptied and cheered for Mo in the bottom of the eighth. The NL stayed put. At least, safe in their dugout, he couldn’t break their bats with his cutter — yet. His first and last outs of a 1-2-3 inning were, suitably, on weak grounders. With tears in his glistening eyes on the mound, Rivera still painted the black, then teased hitters into chasing his futile shades of gray.
One AL star, Alex Gordon, actually lamented that he was on the same team with the immortal Mariano. “I just want to get one hit off that cutter in my career,” said Gordon, lifetime average .000 vs. Mo. “I already have about 10 broken bats against him.”
Since no batter on either team had more than one hit, run or RBI and no pitcher worked more than two scoreless innings, the game’s MVP was Rivera because . . . why not? Thousands of fans in a NL park stayed after the game to cheer the award ceremony behind second base. Thus, Mo iced his status as perhaps the only Yankee who has ever united every New York fan.
From the start, this game offered more special moments than melodrama — including the very first pitch. AL leadoff man Mike Trout may be the only player here who seems unfazed by the Mets’ budding myth, Matt Harvey, the Dark Knight of Gotham. “Haven’t seen him, not going to watch film. Just have fun. It’s cool to face him,” said Trout, for whom those constitute long sentences. As usual, he omitted the word “I.”
That symbolic match lasted four-tenths of a second: one 97-mph fastball, a double smoked over the first base bag into the corner and a head-first Trout slide into second base. Game on, American League style.