Mariano Rivera: Hard to hate this Yankee

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Go ahead, hate Mariano Rivera just because he wears Yankee pinstripes.

But it might be impossible.

Rivera, who is retiring after this season, was last night's All-Star MVP as the American League blanked the National League, 3-0.

Rivera tossed a perfect eighth inning to get the trophy, with ex-Twin Joe Nathan closing the game for the save.

Another ex-Twin, Torii Hunter, said it was a "great moment" when Rivera walked onto Citi Field in the top of the eighth, as he was left alone on the field to soak in a standing ovation from fans and players alike.

While the Yankees have been a buzzkill to too many Twins' seasons of late, Minnesota fans may choose to ignore that Rivera is still the greatest closer to ever play the game.

And according to a Tuesday New York Times article, he's also being seen in a new light -- as one of the game's great ambassadors: "Rivera, an emissary of good will, has penetrated enemy lines and unintentionally become the Yankees’ most successful ambassador since Babe Ruth spread their brand across the globe in the 1920s and ’30s."

Since Babe Ruth? Hard to believe.

But according to the article, Rivera is spending his farewell tour in the majors meeting with those behind the scenes at visiting ballparks (secretaries, custodians, press box attendants, etc...) to learn more about their lives and work.

“I just want to say thank you,” Rivera said. "They make baseball work as much as we do.”

Yep, hard to hate this guy.

Now, about that A-Rod fellow...

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