Hi all. Here is the first of 10 themes on 10 special All-Star games. At the request of Victor Ramirez, the first theme is about last year’s All-Star game. Here is how I wrote about it the morning after it happened. The headline at the time was, “The Best All-Star Game Happened after I Went to Bed.”
The back-and-forth action of last night’s All-Star game shows just why the game should have started at least 90 minutes earlier than it did. I’m sure most of America went to bed at or around 10:45 when the game was 2-1 American League and looked like it would be another snorer as usual. I gave it up as a bad job at that hour. I’m still having a time processing the fact that the AL won the game 8-6 in 10 innings. Early on, the game reminded me of my first All-Star game, the 1971 classic in which 6 home runs were hit. In last night’s game, Aaron Judge was the first of 10 men who would hit one out of the lot. A correspondent watching the game on TV described Max Scherzer’s pitch to Judge as a “gift.” Mike Trout made it 2-0 with a solo shot of his own in the third against Jacob DeGrom of the Mets (move pending.) The National League got on the board as the Rays’ Blake Snell gave up a long ball off the bat of Cubs’ catcher Wilson Contreras. Other than his recent marriage, that shot had to be the highlight of the year for the Venezuelan. the game stalled following Contreras’ long one. For the next few innings, all anybody wanted to talk about on the air or on social media was whether or not Manny Machado would be donning Dodger blue, and if so when and at what cost. I don’t know if it was Machado and his agent trying to steal the spotlight, or the Orioles taking a shot at the Nationals because the game was in DC. Whatever the reason, at least part of the spotlight went to Machado who apparently will become a Dodger. In the top of the 7th the American Leaguers failed to get any insurance though they had base runners against Felipe Vazquez of the Pirates. If anybody knows Vazquez at all, they know him under his old name Felipe Rivero. The name change happened before this season began. When the Americans’ rally fizzled in the 7th, That was when I bailed out. I assumed the 2-1 score would be the final. But like a presidential nomination at a national convention, the fun was just beginning. In the last of the 7th, the Rockies’ shortstop Trevor Story tied the game with a home run off Charlie Morton who apparently is hittable by players who aren’t Yankees. So far, all 4 home runs had been solo blasts. That was about to change. The Mariners’ shortstop Jean Segura let fly a 3-run home run in the visiting half of the 8th. The Brewers’ Josh Hader was Segura’s foil, which is a good laugh because Segura used to be a Brewer, though the two were never teammates. Just when you thought Hader’s night couldn’t get any worse, it did. After he gave up the 3-run jack, computer hunters who are more clever than I began digging to find out who was this Josh Hader. What they found gave them a shock to say the least. Apparently before he was a Brewers’ star he sent out numerous regrettable tweets. He sent them during 2011 and 2012. I can’t imagine who has the spare time to look through 6 years of tweets, but somebody did and they left Hader on the hook for racist and homophobic material too vicious for me to copy. The tweets had been written and posted before Hader was drafted in 2012, so MLB can’t punish him with a fine or a suspension. They can, and probably will, suggest sensitivity training for the 24-year-old Hader in spite of the fact that the tweets were written by a boy of 17. The game on the field continued despite the Hader firestorm. The Brewers’ Christian Yelich cut the lead to 5-3 with a home run of his own in the 8th. He had languished with the Marlins before being traded after Giancarlo Stanton was unloaded last winter. Up until then, Yelich’s highlight was playing for the US team that won the last World Baseball Classic in 2017. In the 9th, American league manager A. J. Hinch turned to Mariners’ closer Edwin “Everyday Eddie” Diaz. The results weren’t the kind of result that landed Eddie on the All-Star team. With a man on, the Reds’ Scooter Gennett crushed a Diaz delivery to send the game to extra innings. In the 10th, two of Hinch’s Astros got their boss off the hook. Alex Bregman and George Springer hit home runs off the Dodgers’ Ross Stripling to build an 8-5 lead. While the NL put up a run in the 10th, the lead held up. The AL has now won 44, lost 43 with 2 ties among the 89 All-Star games that have been played. When Aaron Judge hit the game’s first home run, his teammate Luis Severino caught it in the visiting team’s bull pen. That’s a ball he will want to keep. It put him in some fast historical company. The only Yankees to hit All-Star home runs who were younger than Judge were Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, both of whom had hit All-Star home runs before they reached the age of 26 where Judge is now. Mantle did it twice, in 1955 and 1956. DiMaggio hit his when the game was first played at Yankee Stadium in 1939. Another Yankee with a pair of All-Star home runs was Lou Gehrig, who homered in the 1936 game in Boston and the game in Washington a year later. Babe Ruth hit a long one in the first All-Star game, played in Chicago in 1933. After Joltin’ Joe’s jolt in 1939, the next Yankee to hit an All-Star home run did it after World War II. Charlie “King Kong” Keller took one out of the lot in 1946. Following Mantle’s tape-measure shots in 1955 and 1956, Yogi Berra homered in the 1959 All-Star game played at the Los Angeles Coliseum. From there it would be 42 years before a Yankee hit an All-Star home run, and then it happened 3 years in a row. Derek Jeter hit one in 2001, as did Alfonso Soriano in 2002 and Jason Giambi in 2003. While Judge won the 2017 home run derby, he didn’t hit one during the game, and played poorly after the derby.1
July 2, 2019
I wish they’d start the All-Star game earlier too.