By Joseph Staszewski
The 84th annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game provided fans with memories that will last a lifetime even if the game itself was not riveting.
For a New York Mets fan like myself, who had the opportunity of being at Citi Field for the contest Tuesday, you got all you could ask for outside of a win as the American League beat the National League 3-0 to end its three-year winning streak. The NL managed just three hits, one belonging to the Mets’ David Wright.
There was a buzz in the building from the beginning with Mets phenom Matt Harvey getting the start for the National League. The crowd of 45,186, the largest in Citi Field history, was made up mostly of those rooting for the Amazin’s in Harvey and Wright All-Star game T-shirts.
For a Mets fan, it was fun to see what a full stadium looked and felt like. Of late the team has been struggling, and the All-Star Game gave the opportunity for the Queens team to showcase its stud pitcher in front of the world.
They chanted Harvey’s name after his introduction. It was the finish to tremendous pageantry to open the event, including a huge American flag in the outfield. The team introductions were filled with cheers for the Mets’ Wright, Harvey and manager Terry Collins, along with former Amazin’s manager Dave Johnson, now with the Washington Nationals, and slugger Carlos Beltran, who played in Queens from 2005-11 and now is with the St. Louis Cardinals.
There were boos, too, for members of the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves and the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina, whose home run beat the Mets in the 2006 NL Championship Series.
A number of players brought small American flags to veterans of the U.S. armed forces during a touching moment in the opening ceremony. The first pitch of the game was tossed by Mets legend Tom Seaver to Wright, who had to make a lunging catch to save Seaver’s throw from hitting the dirt.
Harvey didn’t disappoint after a rocky start. He struck out three in two scoreless innings of work and hit the New York Yankees’ Robinson Cano in the leg. Luckily, Cano was fine because if he had been injured, it could have overshadowed the rest of the game.
Getting to watch Neil Diamond sing “Sweet Caroline” in support of Boston after the marathon bombing was a pleasant surprise, and so was seeing Yankees closer Marino Rivera enter in the eighth inning for his final All-Star game.
Rivera, who is expected to retire at the end of the season, trotted to the mound with Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blaring over the speakers. When he got there, he was alone on the field. Both teams remained in the dugout as the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
It was a moment that gave you goose bumps. Rivera tipped his cap to every portion of the crowd. You couldn’t help but think about how this was done with the same class Rivera, who won the MVP Award, embodied during his 19-year Hall of Fame career.
It was the signature moment of the All-Star game at Citi Field to help make it an event dominated by New York sports stars past, present and future, and it will be a game that will always be remembered.