On a night where a legendary veteran was so clearly the main attraction, it was poetic to see the amount of spectacular young talent on display.
Future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera was undoubtedly the star. He came out in the eighth inning for his 13th—and most likely final—all-star appearance to a chill-inducing standing ovation from the stadium that is supposed to serve home to his most hated rival.
In classic Mo fashion, he tossed a perfect inning and was named MVP of the American League's 3-0 victory.
The walk to the mound by himself, the crowd, the performance, the award, the respect. It all made for a truly perfect moment.
But while it was a night that paid necessary homage to the greatest closer in MLB history, it was also one where he passed the proverbial torch to the young guns.
And the MLB currently has a record amount of impressive ones. Per SportsCenter's Twitter account:
Baseball's future is bright. For first time EVER, 4 All Stars are 21 or younger: Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Manny Machado and José Fernández.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 16, 2013
These aren't just guys who sat on the sidelines and failed to make impacts, either.
Mike Trout played seven innings as the leadoff hitter for what many dubbed the best hitting lineup in all-star game history, going 1-for-3 with an impressive double to start the contest.
He's 21 and nearly won MVP last year.
Manny Machado made the play of the game on a hard-hit ball by Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth inning:
He's 21 and drawing comparisons to Brooks Robinson.
Jose Fernandez pitched an inning against what has the be one of the most fearsome trios of all time: Dustin Pedroia, Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis.
That's one former MVP, one Triple Crown winner (and also defending MVP) and two legitimate Triple Crown candidates for those counting at home. He struck out Pedroia, got Cabrera to foul out and struck out Davis.
He's 20 and now in a group alone with Doc Gooden and Bob Feller, per ESPN's Jayson Stark:
Jose Fernandez is special. Two K's or more in an ASG at age 20 or younger: Him, Gooden & Bob Feller. Fun group!— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 17, 2013
The only guy on the 21-and-under list who didn't do much on Tuesday night, Bryce Harper, has the incredible power to be arguably the most tantalizing of the group.
Which 21-and-under player was most impressive on Tuesday night?
And it doesn't end there. The NL's starting pitcher, Matt Harvey, is 24. The game's winner, Chris Sale, is also 24. So is Matt Moore. Mr. sub-2.00 ERA, Clayton Kershaw, is 25. So are Aroldis Chapman, Domonic Brown and Goldschmidt. Patrick Corbin, Jean Segura and Salvador Perez are 23.
My goodness. The box score reads more like the MLB Futures Game than it does the MLB All-Star game.
Rivera, one of the most beloved stars in the business, won't be back next year. But that's OK, because the league is clearly in extremely talented hands without him.