The Magic of the All-Star Game: I Saw Him Play…

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Now, there are sporting events, and then there are sporting events, but the MLB Mid-Summer classic is something I look forward to every year.  I will make no bones about it, I am a Yankee fan, always have been and always will be.

Baseball On My Mind 

I rushed home from my junior year in High School to watch Bucky Dent hit a homer over the Green Monster to crush the Fenway faithful in 1978, after the Yankees charged back from 14 games out of first place that previous July.  I ran upstairs to tell my parents the previous year (1977) that Reggie had hit another homerun in game six of the 1977 World Series against the LA Dodgers.  I cried with all the Yankee Universe after August 2, 1979 when the Captain, Thurman Munson, was killed in a plane crash.  I grew older watching a guy with the same first name who wore number 23, but oddly had his real last name replaced by “Baseball”, as in Donny Baseball.  Watching Don Mattingly play was the most poignant for me because we are the same age.  Watching someone excel at their craft and be a contemporary is a special bond between player and fan.

The Mets Get a Round of Applause

What I saw last night was the classiest send off in sports.  The Mets organization deserves a great degree of kudos for what they did at the All-Star game at CitiField.  If you don’t follow Baseball, then let me fill you in:  the “Babe Ruth” of relief pitchers is retiring after this season is completed.  He has 30 saves this season, and has converted 30 out of 32 chances, only the second time he has had this many saves at this point in the season in his career.  He has only blown 2 save opportunities.  He currently has 638 saves which is the most ever in Baseball history.  He has 42 saves in the postseason, which would be a good season for any relief pitcher, and is also the most ever amassed in the postseason.  His postseason ERA is under 1.0, (runners get on base, but they do not score).  More men have walked on the MOON (12) then have scored against him in the postseason (11).  He throws an array of pitches, but his bread and butter pitch is the cut fastball or CUTTER.  His cutter saws off bats for both left-handed hitters and right handed hitters.  He throws one pitch that he practiced to perfection.  He was the MVP of the 1999 World Series, the 2003 American League Champion Series, has been the Rolaids Reliefman-of-the-Year 5 times, and was the All-Star Most Valuable Player last night.

Mariano Rivera is 43 years old.  He is universally loved and respected throughout Baseball.  He has always been about the team, and shirks personal tributes or accolades until pushed:  A Humble Hero!! He is one of the truly good guys in the game and everyone says he is a better person then he is a ballplayer, and you can see from previous what kind of ballplayer he is.

The Greats:  He Is One!

I’ve seen some great players play live.  I’ve seen Wayne Gretzky play many times with the Oilers, Kings, and Rangers.  My first Baseball game ever was to the Yankee Stadium bleachers where I saw Mickey Mantle in his last season.  I wish I would have seen Michael Jordan play, and in an even more wistful “field of dreams”, Lou Gehrig.

People always told me, they saw Babe Ruth play, or Sandy Koufax, or Jackie Robinson…  I saw the “GREAT” Mariano Rivera play, and for decades into the future, this will be a question asked from sons to fathers and grandfathers.  He is better than good, he is the BEST!  I saw him play…

Publishing like it Oughta Be!  (Homage to the ’86 Mets!)

CLICK HERE!!

http://bit.ly/workwithDon

Follow me on Twitter at:  Donald Schmidt@thebookkahuna

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