NEW YORK -- When most people recall the 84th All-Star Game held Tuesday night at Citi Field, they’re going to think about Mariano Rivera’s perfect eighth inning – the last appearance in the midsummer classic for the greatest closer in baseball history.
From the moment the retiring Yankee came out of the visiting bullpen and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blared on the loudspeaker, the crowd of 45,186 rose to its feet and everyone – including the All-Stars on each side – stopped and cheered the singular figure on the mound.
"It was just crazy,” said Orioles’ 21-year-old third baseman Manny Machado, who is less than half the age of the 43-year-old Rivera. “Just to hear that song play and see him come down and throw a couple pitches by himself out there, it was huge. As a kid, you always think about seeing him play and, so, it was just something I will never forget.”
OK, a great moment for baseball and its last No. 42.
But how about that other moment a few innings before?
You want to talk about historic? How about Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy hitting a grounder to second and beating out a potential double play in the fifth, which scored his teammate, center fielder Adam Jones, for the AL’s second run?
“We had to give [Hardy] a little bit of a hard time in the fact that he beat out a double play,” said first baseman Chris Davis. “J.J.'s not the most swift of foot.”
Jones wanted an investigation into Hardy’s speed in that inning.
“We need a time on how fast J.J. Hardy got down the line,” Jones shouted after Tuesday’s game. “I think 4.38 [seconds].”
Hardy and Jones both laughed uproariously at that one – a time more suited for a pro’s 40-yard dash and not a 90-foot run.
After the inning, Jones and Davis came out of the visiting dugout to meet with Hardy and fist bump their teammate. It was a cool moment – but it didn’t go without some ribbing. Hardy was teased about his foot speed. And he – jokingly – took it as a source of pride.
“They were talking about my speed. How quick I got down the line,” said Hardy, who added an exaggerated snap of his right hand for playful emphasis. “No, it was cool. This whole experience has been awesome. It's just that much more special that I was able to share it with my teammates. Lot of fun.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun