Just when I was beginning to lose faith that there would never again be an all-star game in any of the major sports that might turn out to be of any worth, MLB goes and does what it did Tuesday night.
I’m still not enamored with the style of play in the American League’s 4-3 victory over the National League: a lot of guys swinging from their heels trying to hit a juiced ball 500 feet and instead striking out a record 16 times.
And I sure could have done without the ineptitude of the Municipal Stadium scoreboard crew, the ones that turned David Dahl into “Davis” Dahl and flashed the picture of Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom when his teammate and the National League’s leading hitter Jeff McNeil came to the plate. That’s just a kick in the teeth for each of them, to have the stadium mess things up in your first MLB All-Star appearance, ruining the moment for your family, your friends in front of the entire country.
Shame on them.
But at least there were a few more redeeming factors that made it, for me, the most enjoyable AS experience since Pete Rose bowled over Ray Fosse way back in 1970.
NFL and NBA, pay attention — then eat your hearts out.
• First, the sad and moving. The Indians’ own Carlos Carrasco, who left his team early last month with an illness later determined to be leukemia, stood with his teammates in a “Stand Up To Cancer” moment that drew a standing ovation from the huge crowd. Bravo, guys.
Thankfully, Carrasco may be able to come back and pitch for the club later this month, but what a sobering moments and what a reminder that there are forms of cancer all around us and that no one, no matter how healthy we appear to be, is safe.
• On a happier note, I liked the idea that the Most Valuable Player went to Cleveland’s own Shane Bieber, though I, like some, wonder if he was truly worthy of the honor. Striking out the side in your one inning of work on the mound might be impressive, but was that the most deserving moment?
But I cannot deny that Bieber, who fanned the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, the Diamondbacks’ Ketel Marte and the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. in succession on only 19 pitches in the fifth inning, is a great story. The tall right-hander had to walk-on at the University of California-Santa Barbara and only got a scholarship when another player forfeited his scholarship to turn pro. He shined and was drafted in 2016 by the then-American League champion Indians in 2016.
And the game was in Cleveland, after all. I suppose he deserved it as much as Michael Jordan deserved the NBA dunk contest win at old Chicago Stadium the year that Dominique Wilkins was clearly better.
It had to go to a hometown hero, and even though Astros outfielder Michael Brantley was roundly cheered by the Cleveland faithful for his 10 years of devoted service and three AS appearances for the Indians, Bieber was the host club’s chief star on that night.
• Then, of course, there was the Home Run Derby.
The duel between the Blue Jays’ Vlad Guerrero Jr. and the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson was a classic, three times tied before Guerrero pulled it out. Guerrero lost to the other rookie involved, the Mets’ Pete Alonso, and even that was remarkable.
Alonso deserved the award for winning, but there should have been a special honor for Guerrero, who in the three rounds hit an amazing 91 home runs. 91!!! That was almost 30 more than the runnerup and 34 more than Alonso had to hit to win his face-offs.
All in all, MLB’s mid-summer classic may just have won me back. Now let’s see if they can do it again next year.