Joe Nathan was fine taking a back seat to the game's greatest closer of all-time heading into Tuesday night's All-Star Game.
Even though the Texas Rangers' veteran closer did take a metaphorical back seat to future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, he did close the 2013 All-Star Game out in relatively stress-free fashion on Tuesday as the American League won for the first time in four tries with a 3-0 win over the National League.
Rivera entered the game in the eighth inning instead of the ninth, as expected, as AL manager Jim Leyland made the call to insert the Yankees closer in eighth because, as the visitor, the AL could have potentially not had to pitch in the bottom of the ninth if the NL made a comeback. Improbable? Yes, but impossible? No. And if Rivera hadn't gotten into the game, heads would've rolled.
So as Metallica's Enter Sandman was played, Rivera trotted in from the bullpen as the teams both paid their respects from their dugouts and left Rivera as the lone man standing on the diamond. It was a pretty special moment for everyone, including Nathan.
"I think we all wanted to see him in the ninth to be honest with you," Nathan told ESPN's Tim Kurkjian after the game. "I wanted to hear `Enter Sandman' in the ninth."
Nathan said he was surprised to learn he would be pitching the ninth instead of Rivera.
"My heart has never beat so fast," said Nathan, making his sixth All-Star appearance. "I didn't know I was getting the ninth 'til the ninth.
"I can't believe I got the ninth with that guy in the pen."