Sandman Exits his Final All-Star Game

Photo by  Robert Sabo/New York Daily News/http://www.nydailynews.com Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Edited by: Tommy Parrill (@DearTommy)

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Well ladies and gentlemen, today officially starts the second half of the 2013 Major League Baseball season! As excited as I am to see which teams will flourish and which ones will fall (especially my Cleveland Indians), it only makes sense to acknowledge the end of an era that we all witnessed just a few days ago.

The big headline heading into this year’s All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York was not Crush Davis or the raging PED scandal, but was the fact that this was Mariano Rivera's final All-Star Game. Before the 2013 season, Rivera announced his retirement from the game of baseball at the end of the season after 19 MLB seasons (all with the Yankees), 13 All-Star Games, 5 World Series rings and the major league record for career saves with 638. The best relief pitcher in baseball history was making his final All-Star appearance in the city that he had called home for 19 seasons, and what a sight it was.

Photo is courtesy of http://www.nydailynews.com

I had kept an eye on the game throughout the night, but as soon as I heard "Enter Sandman" come from the television, it had my complete attention. As Rivera made his way to the mound for the bottom of the 8th inning, it was only Mo. Both the American and National League dugouts didn't make their way to the field, but stood by their dugouts and applauded with more than 45,000 fans as greatness made his way to the hill. You could see the emotion on Rivera’s face as he tipped his hat to the crowd and accepted the praise.  Rivera made the moment that much more sweeter when he took down the NL line-up, 1-2-3.  He was then awarded the All-Star Game MVP not only for his performance that night, but also for what he has done for the game.

Nowadays, you don’t find too many athletes that stay with the same team for their entire career. Like Neil Brown stated in his post last night, it is a rare sight to see one athlete in the same uniform night in and night out. Mariano Rivera has been a New York Yankee since his career started in 1995, and for the best relief pitcher in the game, he has made a career on one pitch.  Many pitchers may have a wicked slider or a mean fastball for a few years, but Rivera has consistently beat the best with his cutter.  The cutter has won the Yankee’s many World Series titles and has sent Rivera to many All-Star Games. It is hard not to respect Rivera for all of his accomplishments in baseball, but with 19 seasons lasting on one incredible pitch, it is pretty easy to see greatness for who he really is.

I have always respected Mariano Rivera, and this is far from the end. We still have a second half of baseball to play and there will be plenty more Sandman love at the end of the season. Until then, the 2013 All-Star Game was one to remember as we all witnessed the Sandman make his exit one final time.