American League Reigns in Midsummer Classic

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·6 min read
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The galaxy descended upon Los Angeles on Tuesday night. The American League All-Stars won their ninth straight against the National League All-Stars, 3-2 in front of 52,518 in attendance at Dodger Stadium. A congenial broadcast featuring players wearing microphones added some captivating insight to the midsummer classic.

The game opened with words from none other than AL leadoff hitter Shohei Ohtani. “First pitch, first swing, that’s it,” Ohtani said smiling.

Going into this game, Ohtani was 0-8 against NL starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw. The prognosticator told us he was going to swing at the first pitch, and he indeed connected on the pitch for a single into center field. Moments later, however, Kershaw made a fine pickoff move to first to nab Ohtani diving back into first base.

AL starting pitcher Shane McClanahan currently leads all of MLB in ERA, and started the game in his first all-star selection. The Rays hurler’s All-Star debut did not exactly go as planned. Ronald Acuña Jr. led off with a double, however, then Mookie Betts hit an RBI single to plate Acuña to give the National League an early 1-0 lead. Mookie Betts and Trea Turner both came up with first-inning singles, the first time two Dodgers have hits in an All-Star Game since Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in 2011.

Paul Goldschmidt planned to elongate McClanahan’s first inning, as he clobbered a two-out solo shot to make it 2-0.

Sandy Alcantara is known for pitching deep into games, and is at the forefront of elite pitching with his 1.76 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 123 strikeouts heading into the second half. The Marlins right hander replaced Kershaw in the second inning, and easily rang Stanton up on three pitches, including an absolutely filthy 92 MPH slider located perfectly inside.

The mic’d up players added a personal, and at times, hilarious touch to the game, with Joe Davis and John Smoltz bantering with the All-Stars. Alek Manoah, mic’d up in the second inning, added an excited “this is great!” as he fiddled with the ball and formulated his sequence.

The Blue Jays hurler gave fans some insight on his gameplan. “We’re just gonna attack these guys, get some outs.” He then proceeded to exclaim his achievements through his appearance. “There’s two!” He shouted as Joc Pederson went down swinging on a fastball.

Manoah also made a point to joke around. “They say I’m not good against lefties,” he said, probably while smirking. “My bad,” the right hander said in a genuine concession after hitting Jeff McNeil with a wayward pitch that got away at the feet.

Some interesting historical facts arose during the game: Willson and William Contreras were also the first pair of brothers to start the All-Star Game since Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 1992.

Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton became the first Yankee outfield duo to start since Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield in 1988. Judge was batting second, and Stanton hitting fifth in tonight's game. The last time two Yankees hit second and fifth in the same All-Star game was Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield in 1987.

Judge and Stanton left the first half in shambles, with a 172 and 134 wRC+ respectively. Stanton’s one out, two run shot in the fourth inning off Tony Gonsolin was squared up perfectly and clobbered at 111.7 MPH off the bat. The homer flew 457 ft. in the California night sky and right where he used to sit at Dodger Stadium as a child. The outfielder managed to tied the game in his first All-Star game as a Yankee.

Byron Buxton followed with a solo shot of his own off an elevated fastball well out of the strike zone. The Twins’ outfielder also smoked this ball, at 425 ft. and 108 MPH. “Stanton gave me a booster, [so I] saw a slider and put a good swing on there,” Buxton said later of the home run.

Jose Trevino and Nestor Cortes of the Yankees replaced pitch com with the mic in the bottom of the sixth.

Trevino and Cortes were mostly business.

“Talk to me.”

“Cutter in”

“Heater, up and in.” A 94 mph fastball inside that missed the zone followed.

In the next frame, Trevino continued to wear the mic and exuded some childlike excitement through his at-bat “I can’t believe I’m an All-Star,” the Yankees catcher exclaimed.. “This is a pretty special thing we have going on.” He then acquired his first career All-Star base hit.

All players wearing mics seemed to do something interesting, as Joe Davis noted. Julio Rodriguez made a catch on a fly ball while on air. He shared a fond all-star memory of watching Mike Trout play. Feel old yet?

Fast forward to the bottom of the eighth - Liam Hendriks appeared with a mic, perhaps to the chagrin of the FCC. He got Travis d'Arnaud to fly out to Julio Rodriguez, who was jokingly pretending not to hear Hendriks.

“Juliooooo! Don’t throw the ball away! Give me the ball! I need to keep it!” Hendriks, indeed, got to keep the ball, much to the White Sox closer’s delight.

Emmanuel Clase pitched a rather electric ninth inning for the American league.

He threw six pitches for two back-to-back strikeouts using his incredible high velocity, high spin cutter. He whittled Jake Cronenworth to a pitcher’s count quickly, then got the Padres infielder to go down swinging for the final out. “A 100 mile-an-hour cutter?” David Ortiz exclaimed in the postgame show, about Clase’s crown pitch. “Come on, man.”

Stanton was crowned game MVP for his game-tying fourth inning heroics, as the National League never recovered from that run deficit.

The use of player mics on broadcast added an element of rare intimacy and humor – it allowed players to show their thoughts, feelings, and excitement about the game. Some players exuded charm the fans usually do not get to witness – Trevino’s wonder and enthusiasm while behind the plate, at bat, and on base was just one of the enjoyable mic’d up moments.

As we head into the second half, we should use this All-Star Game to re-evaluate how we observe the game and the people who play it. The game of baseball itself is capricious, unpredictable, awe-inspiring - and most important of all, fun.

World deGromination Postponed

Jacob deGrom felt "mild muscle soreness" in his right shoulder on Sunday. He’s still recovering from a stress reaction in his right scapula; he played catch on Monday and Tuesday without issue, but the Mets pushed back his simulated game to Thursday "out of an abundance of caution." His 2022 regular season debut was originally scheduled for right after the All-Star break. At this point, it’s looking like late July or early August is more likely.

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Quick Hits

Rich Hill (knee) threw a 35-pitch bullpen session on Saturday. … Steven Souza Jr. has retired from professional baseball. … Domingo Germán (shoulder) is expected to rejoin the Yankees' pitching mix following the All-Star break. … According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, Stephen Strasburg is not expected to return this season due to a nerve issue. … Also, the Diamondbacks and Druw Jones have agreed to a $8.19 million signing bonus.