Legends Are Leaving, But Baseball Is In Good Hands

NEW YORK — The future for Major League Baseball is as bright as the lights on Broadway.

Hence, it was only fitting that the 84th annual All-Star Game was played here at Citi Field on Tuesday night. The sellout crowd of 45,186 was the largest ever at this stadium.

Sure, there were many of the usual stars we have seen and marveled at over the years in the midsummer classic, including Mariano Rivera, David Ortiz, Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Beltran.

In the end, the AL won, 3-0, snapping a three-game losing streak to the NL.

And we saw a special moment in the eighth when Rivera came into the game. In his final All-Star appearance, Rivera came to the mound and, in tribute, his teammates remained in the dugout. Rivera pitched a scoreless inning and was named MVP.

And while it was the ushering of an all-time great, the future was truly on display.

There were a ton of first timers – 39. It's the most ever. In National League, there were 21. The American League had 18.

None bigger and brighter, however, than NL starting pitcher Matt Harvey.

Harvey, the New York Mets' rookie starter, got the honor of starting the All-Star Game in his home ballpark.

And Harvey, who was 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA in the first half of the season, didn't disappoint after a shaky start.

On the first pitch he threw, L.A. Angels' center fielder drilled a double inside the first base bag for a double.

Harvey then hit New York Yankees' second baseman Robinson Cano on the right knee.

It looked as the hard-throwing right-hander was in for a short night on a big stage.

But just as Harvey has done all year, he buckled down and showed why he was chosen as an All-Star.

First, Harvey fanned Miguel Cabrera, currently the best player on the planet. Miggy has feasted with runners in scoring position with 95 first-half RBI.

"I knew that I had to make good pitches," Harvey said about pitching to Cabrera. "And obviously, throwing to the best catcher in the game, you know, it makes it a lot easier just to trust him and go with what he calls.

"So you know, luckily it was in favor of me and Yadi Molina and I was able to get him out."

Harvey then had to face Baltimore Orioles' slugger Chris Davis, who pounded an MLB-leading 37 homers in the first-half.

Harvey got Davis to fly out to center for the second out.

Harvey completed the Houdini act by striking out the Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista to end the AL threat.

Harvey walked off the mound to loud cheers, the Met fans-heavy crowd was happy to see their man come through.

"It was so much fun," Harvey said. "Just being in the locker room with all the guys, the whole experience, the Red Carpet; it being in New York, and starting, as a kid.

"I don't think you could have dreamed of doing something like that. It was a tremendous honor, and something I'm very thankful for."

The Mets, who haven't won a World Series since 1986, now have hope with that Harvey on their team.

But this All-Star Game wasn't just about Harvey. There were young stars everywhere that make fans all over Baseball America hopeful that their team will be able to compete on that championship level in seasons to come.

In fact, it's the first time four players 21 or younger were selected to the All-Star team, including the Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper (20), the Miami Marlins' Jose Fernandez (20), the Angels' Trout (21) and the Baltimore Orioles Manny Machado (21).

"We have a lot of young guys, this game is changing," said veteran Detroit Tigers' outfielder Torii Hunter, who was selected by fellow players as an All-Star. "There's a new level. There are a lot of good athletes. That’s why you see them coming to the big leagues at 19, 20 and 21. This new level of players is awesome. Baseball is in good shape with them."

In the bottom of the seventh, we saw Machado flash the leather at third base. He's already being talked about on par with the O's Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson.

In DC, Harper will be a force for years to come. We saw his power in the HR Derby on Monday.

Last season, at 20, Trout burst onto the scene and almost won the AL MVP despite Cabrera winning the Triple Crown. He had a remarkable rookie season.

It's just a good time to be a baseball fan. The talent is young and spread around.

There's a changing of the guard. The new is coming in, replacing familiar faces we have grown to love.

Embrace it.

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