In what will be Mariano Rivera's final appearance in the MLB All-Star Game, the most dynamic closer in baseball history has said that he would prefer to pitch the ninth inning as opposed to starting the first inning, according to For The Win's Ted Berg.
An online campaign surfaced back in May to "#StartMo" in the game. This campaign was started to ensure that Rivera would make an appearance in the game, as there's no telling if the American League will be holding the lead come the ninth.
Rivera, one of the most humble players in the history of the game, has instead decided that he would rather close the game out—despite the flattering movement to #StartMo.
What I do is close the games. I don't start the games. It's a privilege and an honor to be considered like that, but I think the right thing is to do it the way it is — especially when it counts. I don't want to start the game and give up 10 runs in the first inning. I'd rather pitch in the ninth.
To be perfectly honest, it's hard to imagine Rivera allowing 10 runs in an inning. Regardless, his refusal to start the game speaks to the type of player that Rivera has been for the past 19 seasons with the New York Yankees.
Rivera has always known his role. He set up saves for John Wetteland in his first years as a reliever and has since transformed into the best ninth-inning pitcher in the history of baseball. Rivera's role has been defined since he became the full-time closer for the Yankees in 1997, so there's no point in deviating from that now.
Rivera is most certainly on his way to pitching in the game. He would likely get in on name recognition alone, but his statistics are worthy of an All-Star bid.
He owns a 1.61 ERA with a league-high 26 saves, striking out 27 over 28 innings pitched. His control has been impeccable (as always), walking just six batters.
Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland should have an easy decision on who to go to in the ninth inning if the American League is leading. It's the same decision Joe Torre and Joe Girardi have had the pleasure of making since 1997—put Mo in to secure the victory.