"For you, Mariano!" So roared James Hetfield as he led Metallica into Enter Sandman's explosive intro yesterday, live from center field at Yankee Stadium.
This past weekend was a great time to be a New Yorker, as Metallica played the Apollo Theater on Saturday night and NYC as a whole celebrated the end of Mariano Rivera's career as the greatest closer of all time with a special pregame ceremony at Yankee Stadium. Thanks to Enter Sandman's place in Yankee history as Rivera's entrance song, massive roars erupted when Metallica played the pitcher in from the bullpen towards the end of a heartwarming ceremony that included tributes and gifts from Yankees and baseball royalty.
While the vast majority of Yankee Stadium proudly wore Yankee blue yesterday, many with t-shirts reading "Exit Sandman," savvy metalheads who anticipated the unannounced performance could also be spotted thanks to their Overkill, Amon Amarth, and of course Metallica shirts.
Viewers at home were also able to enjoy Metallica's performance thanks to television broadcasts of the ceremony; watch Youtube video on the left sidebar. Unfortunately, while the band plugged directly into the television feed, they neglected to plug into the Stadium PA system, instead relying on a few dozen amplifiers scattered around the field, and for those of us in the stands the sound was actually incredibly underwhelming and the guitars virtually lost in the wind.
Still, if it's the thought that counts, yesterday's ceremony was one of the most touching moments in metal history. After finishing Sandman, the entire band met Mariano at home plate, where they gave him a signed amplifier and posed for pictures in their custom-made Yankees jerseys. (The visiting Giants would also give Mariano a signed Kirk Hammett guitar later on.)
While metal fans might disagree with the Yankee announcers' contention that Mariano helped boost the popularity of Sandman, there's no question that the song is forever linked to the soon-to-be Hall of Famer, and Metallica's presence at the game added an extra edge of excitement for all in attendance.
The Yankees would go on to lose the afternoon game against Metallica's hometown Giants 2-1, making the induction ceremony the uncontested highlight of the day, as the Yanks missed a key opportunity to gain a step in their faltering race for the playoffs in a game that fans would rather forget.
It might not have been The Big 4 part 2 (read my review of the 2011 Metallica/Slayer/Megadeth/Anthrax concert at Yankee Stadium here), but Metallica continues to serve as heavy metal ambassadors to the outside world, and as Mo gracefully exits the world of Major League Baseball, he got the heavy metal send-off party of a lifetime thanks to the boys from the bay.
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