Some thoughts on the All-Star weekend

Here are some semi-organized thoughts on this past All-Star Game break, in rough order of events save for the preamble at the beginning:

  • First, the elephant in the room: it being in Denver instead of Atlanta. Outside of the occasional quick joke in some of my less-serious fare or things included for historical context, I generally avoid politics on this blog. I will do so here as well. However, from a pure event standpoint, it was unquestionably a good thing that this year’s All-Star Game and surrounding festivities were in Coors Field. The Coors Field factor and the flying baseballs that come with it helped make the Home Run Derby one of the best-ever, and also no-doubt helped contribute to one of the signature moments of this year’s All-Star Game: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.‘s 468-foot bomb that led Fernando Tatis Jr. to put his hands over his head in awe.
  • One neat change this year to the ASG festivities was having the draft in the ASG city beginning on Sunday night, mere hours after the Futures Game. While the Futures Game itself continues to be unfairly ignored due to being played even as regular season MLB games take place, I think having the draft on Sunday night instead of the traditional “final ESPN game of the first half that no team wants to be in because it makes their stars late to get to the All-Star Game city and takes away precious hours from their other players’ mid-year break” is a good move that in most years (not this year because of how screwed up the sports schedule continues to be due to COVID) will allow it to get much more attention than it traditionally has. Having the first round be on ESPN as well as MLB Network also puts it more on par with some of the other leagues like the NFL, allowing fans two different broadcasts and sets of analysts to choose from for more perspectives.
  • I’m still surprised Kumar Rocker fell all the way to the Mets, though.
  • As I said earlier, the Home Run Derby was one of the best-ever. While the ever-changing format (now you don’t have to wait for the ball to hit the ground for another pitch to happen) clearly causes some problems as far as the TV broadcast since they can’t really let how far some of these balls are sink in (perhaps they can add a 10-second break if someone goes over 480 feet?), it was a fun night all around. We had Juan Soto‘s upset of Shohei Ohtani (which no doubt annoyed ESPN’s producers but was still great television), we had Trey Mancini making it to the finals less than a year since finishing chemotherapy, we had baseballs going over 500 feet, and we had Pete Alonso. Nobody seems to love anything as much as Pete Alonso loves the Home Run Derby. My only big disappointment was that Joey Gallo apparently decided to have the worst possible time to have the worst BP of his life.
  • Speaking of Alonso, it’ll be interesting to see how his role in the Home Run Derby is going forward. He obviously is now going to get invited basically every year, and he seems to genuinely love the event in a way that even people like Ken Griffey Jr. or David Ortiz didn’t. If I rewrote Monday’s post he would almost certainly be on it. However, there is also the fact that his cockiness and supreme confidence rubs some people the wrong way, which may lead him to become the villain of the Derby. This isn’t a bad thing, per se: it’d allow MLB to build up a storyline around it (“Can anyone stop Pete Alonso?) and could possibly draw in some players to challenge the champ who otherwise might want to skip it.
  • Moving on to the game itself: It was a classy tribute to Henry Aaron to begin, which followed the classy tribute of having everyone wear 44 during the Home Run Derby.
  • It was bad enough that they were wearing league uniforms instead of their team uniforms during the All-Star Game, but the fact that the uniforms looked like some sort of space-age slow-pitch softball pajamas made it even worse. Next year, get back to the uniforms of the players’ teams.
  • While it wasn’t what many people hoped (no strikeouts, 0-2 at the plate), it’s hard to call Shohei Ohtani’s performance in the game a failure, especially considering how exhausted he looked after the Home Run Derby just one day before. Besides, getting Tatis Jr., Max Muncy and (homecoming favorite) Nolan Arenado out 1-2-3 is impressive by itself.
  • It was ultimately Vlad Jr.’s show. Whether it was hitting that bomb of a home run, driving in an RBI on a ground-out or hugging Max Scherzer after nearly beheading him with a line-drive, “Vladito” was the center of attention while he was the in the game and was a highly-deserving MVP.
  • Two moments from the All-Star Game that people are going to forget but shouldn’t: Freddy Peralta‘s striking out of the side (I mean it wasn’t Pedro Martinez or Carl Hubbell, but it was still really impressive), and Jared Walsh‘s nice catch in left to end the last attempt at a rally by the NL. Walsh is primarily a 1B and when he does play outfield it is usually RF, this was the first time he was in left.
  • Cedric Mullins should have gotten a hit on that ball up the middle and the official scorer of the game should feel bad.
  • Liam Hendriks being mic’d up went as gloriously wrong as we all would have expected.
  • As MLB itself said: It was a global game. The winning pitcher was Japanese, the save was by an Australian, the MVP was born in Canada and raised in the Dominican, other home runs were hit by people from Florida and Oklahoma, and the best “caught on microphone” moment besides Hendriks’ swearing came when a Canadian-American (Freddie Freeman) complained about looking small next to Aaron Judge.
  • Seriously though…. change the uniforms back.


All-Star Wrap-Up and MVP of Yesterday update

Well, that was fun.

To be sure, there have been many better All-Star Games. But there have also been many worse All-Star Games as well. And, what’s more, the festivities themselves were above average- the Home Run Derby, for example, has been reborn thanks to the brackets and time limits. It certainly isn’t perfect, but for the first time in quite awhile, I felt like I was watching the Home Run Derby beyond the first round because I was enjoying it, not simply because it was on.

And then there is Mike Trout. He batted four times last night, and in some ways the game became his showcase. He homered, he walked, he beat out a throw to first to avoid a double play. He rightfully was named MVP, his second in a row (the first player to do that), and he’s only 24. It is not out of the realm of possibility that, one day, the quote “The All-Star Game was made for Willie Mays” will instead be “The All-Star Game was made for Mike Trout.”

Not surprisingly, Trout is the MVP of Yesterday, just as he was the MVP of the game. Standings, as always, after the jump:

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5 Thoughts on The 2014 All-Star Game

1. That was an enjoyable All-Star Game. Not all of them are. Some of them are slogs that you just want to end so that people can stop complaining about it and where it’s obvious at least some of the players who have left the game have also left the stadium to get a flight back to their hometown or their usual team. But this year, it seemed like everybody was actually enjoying themselves.

2. Okay, there were a few blots. The whole controversy over Adam Wainwright grooving a ball for Derek Jeter, for example, which could all be avoided if the whole home-field advantage thing was dropped (it’s believed Chan-Ho Park did something similar for Ripken in 2001, but there wasn’t home-field at stake then, so nobody cared). And, of course, there was the fact that they went the entire broadcast and not once mentioned Tony Gwynn, apparently having kept all the tributes to him in the pre-game on Fox Sports 1, which nobody was watching. I feel like MLB should have some sort of “In Memoriam” montage in the 4th or 5th inning of every All-Star Game, personally. But that doesn’t happen, so it falls to the announcers to pay tribute, and it’s sad that the passing of a man who was a fixture of the All-Star Game for years didn’t get even a mention.

3. As for the game’s theme? Well, it seems like La Opinion in Los Angeles summed it up:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 11.20.12 AMDerek Jeter is leaving. It’s going to be Mike Trout’s league. He deserved the MVP last night, much like he deserved the last two AL MVPs that he didn’t get and will probably deserve the AL MVP he’ll get this year barring injury or some other unforeseen circumstance. He’s going to be the Face of Baseball, the most common ballplayer in commercials (such as the ones for Subway and Major League Baseball itself that he is in now), the ballplayer even people who never watch baseball will be able to name. It was going to happen anyway (especially if Bryce Harper doesn’t pick up the slack) but last night confirmed it.

4. It was nice that Glen Perkins and Kurt Suzuki, the two Minnesota Twins in the game, got to have a spotlight in the 9th as Perkins came in to close in front of his home (and hometown) fans. Sort of surprised that they didn’t bring in Suzuki as a pinch-hitter in the 8th to give the home fans an at-bat by a Twin, though.

5. All five runs by the AL came off Cardinals pitching, so if the Cardinals make it to the World Series and lose in 7, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Speculating on future All-Star Game Locations

This year, the All-Star Game is in Minnesota. In 2015, it’ll be in Cincinnati.

So what’s after that? Well, Commissioner Selig has said that they want to keep it on the NL-AL-NL-AL rotation, but that leads to this little problem: there are more stadiums in the National League that haven’t hosted the ASG than the American League: After this year, the AL will have only two stadiums (New Yankee Stadium and Tropicana Field) that haven’t hosted an All-Star Game- and practically that just means that there is just one AL stadium still to host, since I doubt Tropicana will get ever get one. Meanwhile, the NL will, after next year, still have four stadiums (Philly, San Diego, DC, Miami) and will have another (the new Braves park) on the way.


So, it’s looking like the next decade or so will see a pattern of new stadiums (in NL years) followed by old stadiums (in AL years), with the exception of the year that New Yankee Stadium gets it or (less likely) in new Athletics or Rays parks.


Let’s look into the Crystal Ball (speculation is:


2014: Target Field, Minneapolis

This, of course, is already set.

2015: Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati

This also is already set.

2016: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore

Type in “2016 MLB All-Star Game” into Google, and the front page is almost entirely of articles talking about how Baltimore and Camden Yards are the front-runners for the game. The only other place mentioned is Wrigley Field (as 2016 would be the 100th Anniversary of the Cubs playing there), but that was from an article in 2011, and goes against the current schedule and also doesn’t take into account that Wrigley will be heavily remodeled in the next few years.

2017: PETCO Park, San Diego

The only things I could find on early 2017 speculation was around Nationals Park and Marlins Park. I don’t think either will get it. The Nationals won’t get it because I doubt MLB would have an All-Star Game site so close to the previous year’s site. The Marlins probably wouldn’t get it because it’s likely that the rest of baseball’s owners will still be angry at Jeffrey Loria, should he still own them, for being a constant PR nightmare who blows up teams every few years. By the way, if my current prediction is correct, the next Marlins fire sale should be in either 2016 or 2017.

So, instead, the game would go to PETCO Park in San Diego, partially due to process of elimination, and partially because San Diego is gorgeous.

2018: New Yankee Stadium, New York City

By 2018, it’ll have been five All-Star Games since the Mets hosted the All-Star Game in 2013. That, coincidentally, is also the span of time between when old Yankee Stadium hosted and when the Mets had it. So, by 2018, it should be safe for the All-Star Game to come back to the Bronx.

2019: New Atlanta Braves Stadium, Cobb County GA

With the exception of teams that are unlucky enough to have new stadiums dangerously close to when their neighbors gets All-Star Games or that are borderline pariahs (the Marlins), Major League Baseball likes getting the All-Star Game to them, particularly if the local government paid for most of the stadium’s construction. So, the new Braves Stadium, due to open in 2017, would be a prime candidate in 2019. Another possibility: Wrigley Field.

2020: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Canada

By 2020, the Blue Jays will be playing on grass, not turf! That will change a lot about the once-Skydome, and will make it a more appealing place to hold an All-Star Game.

2021: Nationals Stadium, Washington DC

By 2021, it’ll have been long enough since the Orioles’ held it for DC to hold the ASG. Alternate possibility: renovated Wrigley Field.

2022: New Athletics Stadium, Who-Knows-Where

Technically, the Athletics recently signed a 10 year extension to their captivity at the Oakland Coliseum, but, I’m sorry, if the Athletics stay in the Oakland Coliseum as it currently is for the next 10 years, I’ll eat my hat. Maybe the Raiders will move to LA (again) and they’ll blow up Mount Davis and turn the Coliseum into a baseball-only venue. Maybe they’ll finally move to San Jose. Maybe they’ll go to Montreal, San Antonio, San Juan, Las Vegas, Portland or any of the other bugaboos that are drummed up anytime a team wants a new stadium. I don’t know, but I’m guessing that by 2022 the Athletics will be in a new place.

If not, uh, I dunno, Texas maybe? Or Cleveland?

2023: Marlins Park, Miami

Loria will have either sold the Marlins or died by this point, and even if he hadn’t the turnover in MLB ownership would have been enough where maybe there won’t be enough people who dislike him enough to keep the All-Star Game away from him. If neither of those things are true: Wrigley Field.

2024: Fenway Park, Boston

It’ll be the 25th Anniversary of the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park. That was the All-Star Game when Ted Williams came out and waved to the crowd. I can only presume that he can be stitched back together and unthawed in time to repeat the feat in 2024.


So, what do you think of these predictions? Too pessimistic on the chances for Miami or DC?

Also, if you are wondering why Philadelphia isn’t listed, it’s because they are on record as wanting the game in 2026, as part of America’s 250th birthday. Of course, that would require a break in the current rotation of AL-NL, but, hey, there’s 12 years to figure that out.


Yasiel Puig and the ASG: The fix is in

I can see both sides of the arguments about Yasiel Puig being an all-star or not. However, I think that it’ll ultimately be a moot point: Yasiel Puig will be at the All-Star Game, barring injury or he himself refusing an invite.

Oh, he probably won’t be amongst the initial people named this coming weekend. Instead, one of the backup ways for him to get in will come into play:

  1. The Final Vote, which allows fans to vote for one of five snubbed players in each league. Puig would, barring a team like the Giants or Cardinals running a gigantic get-out-the-vote campaign (always a possibility), run away with the NL voting.
  2. Injuries. Without fail, at least a few All-Stars get hurt or decide not to take part due to pre-existing (but not serious) injuries. These would provide more opportunities for Puig to join.
  3. Guys just skipping. Although it isn’t as common as in games like the Pro Bowl, there are also usually a few players who just respectfully decline an invite, saying they want their rest or that their hamstrings are bothering them or whatnot. This usually more happens when it’s in a city without a good party scene or big-time recognition, so it’s likely that it is less likely this season with it being in New York City… but it could still happen. And if enough guys just pass on the ASG, then there are more spots to put in Puig.
  4. If all else fails, behind-the-scenes wrangling. It’s a dirty secret, but then again it’s hardly a secret at all: Major League Baseball will do everything within it’s power to get their biggest individual story to take part in the All-Star Game. And Yasiel Puig is the biggest individual story so far this year, especially since Evan Gattis got hurt. It could come by way of MLB execs whispering over Bruce Bochy‘s shoulders, it could come as a special dispensation to just have him show up, like how Tony Gwynn was added to the 2001 All-Star Game (but didn’t play). But if all else fails, Puig will be added to the National League team.

Got all of that?

My All-Star Ballot (2013)

What does my All-Star Ballot look like? Well, it looks something like this:


Catcher: Joe Mauer, Twins

First Baseman: Chris Davis, Orioles

Second Baseman: Robinson Cano, Yankees

Shortstop: J.J. Hardy, Orioles

Third Baseman: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, Red Sox

Outfield: Mike Trout (Angels), Adam Jones (Orioles), Jose Bautista (Blue Jays)

In general, this is pretty close to what the fans have voted in general. The only difference is that I have Bautista in over Nick Markakis.

National League:

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

First Baseman: Joey Votto, Reds

Second Baseman: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals

Shortstop: Jean Segura, Brewers (Note: Would be Troy Tulowitzki, but he’s hurt so I’m not voting for him)

Third Baseman: David Wright, Mets

Outfielders: Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies), Carlos Gomez (Brewers), Jay Bruce (Reds)

(Note: Bryce Harper would be in if not hurt, and Gerardo Parra would be a write-in for outfielders in , but, well, the sad truth is that I highly doubt it’d make much of a difference, so I’m voting for Jay Bruce instead)

The NL is a bit more of a mess, and I have differences at 2B (Carpenter- who is more of a utilityman, admittedly, instead of Brandon Phillips), Shortstop (sort of- Tulowitzki is leading but won’t play due to injury) and especially the outfield, where nothing matches up between my ballot and what the fans in general are voting (although admittedly Harper would be on mine too if he was healthy).

So that’s what my ballots look like- what do you think?

The early voting for the AL All-Stars is… surprisingly good, actually.

It’s a yearly thing: the early returns for voting in the All-Star Game comes out, and I start to think that maybe this “democracy” thing has run it’s course, as people vote for their favorite players, instead of people who, y’know, actually deserve to be in there and are having good seasons.

So imagine my surprise when the earliest returns on voting for the American League were released today. I mean, look at it. Here’s a rough version of what I thought while look at it:

Oh, boy, early ASG voting. This should be good, let’s see how stupid the people of the internet are these days….

Hmmmm. Joe Mauer and then Matt Wieters at catcher. Nothing to complain about there, although Wieters isn’t doing so great at the plate this year so far.

Okay, Chris Davis is first at 1B. Good. I was a little worried he’d go under the radar of casual fans.

Robinson Cano at 2B. Again, probably the right choice, although I’m a little surprised that Dustin Pedroia, who at least as far as hitting for average is concerned is doing better than Cano, is such a distant third. Also surprised that Brian Roberts cracked the top five, since he’s only played three games this season.

Third Base. Miguel Cabrera, as he should be, is in the lead, and is the top vote-getter. Anyone who would argue otherwise is dumb. It’s a shame that Manny Machado has come up to the majors as a 3B… he’ll probably be a backup until Cabrera either starts a decline (And even then, Evan Longoria -who also would be an extremely worthy selection- might block him) or Machado moves over to SS.

Hang on, how is Derek Jeter in the top five of the shortstop voting? Oh, right, because he’s Derek Jeter. Elvis Andrus‘ spot on top is extremely suspect, and probably the only big headscratcher of the bunch. I’d go with Jhonny Peralta here, by the way.

Mike Trout is the leading outfielder, with Adam Jones and Torii Hunter rounding it out and Nelson Cruz, Jose Bautista and Nick Markakis looking in. Trout cannot be argued with, and the other two leaders aren’t bad selections either, but I feel like Bautista would be a better choice than them. Maybe. There are so many good OF that it’s hard to really complain about anything.

DH is David Ortiz. Good, that is the correct answer. Well, him or Mark Trumbo.

Presumably the NL’s early voting results come out tomorrow, so I’ll have my thoughts on them too.