The 2017 MLB All-Star Game no longer counts for home field advantage in the World Series, and has subsequently been a bit more light-hearted than in previous seasons.
That was made quite obvious in the top of the sixth inning, when Seattle Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz stepped up to the plate with his cell phone and prompted catcher Yadier Molina to take a picture of himself with home plate umpire Joe West.
Nelson Cruz and Joe West take a photo together with the help of Yadier Molina. #ASG
— HRD (@NYYDJ2) July 12, 2017
Why did this happen? Who knows. It may have had something to do with the fact that West, despite a less-than-stellar reputation, recently umpired his 5,000th career game. Perhaps, alternatively, Cruz just wanted to be funny. If so, it worked.
Bryce Harper is a big fan of Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, and that respect is mutual.
With the MLB All-Star Game returning to its long-held status as a simple exhibition game, Fox Sports was allowed more extensive access to the players on the field during the Tuesday’s contest. Part of that access included having Harper wear a microphone and earpiece, allowing him to spend a half inning conversing with announcers Joe Buck and John Smoltz while playing right field for the National League.
Over the course of the interview, Harper brought up his favorite NFL team, the Cowboys — particularly his fondness for Prescott.
Bryce Harper mic'd up during All-Star game: "How you think Dak's gonna be this year? … He's fun to watch. Him and Zeke are unbelievable."
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) July 12, 2017
Prescott must have been watching, because he gave Harper a shoutout later in the game.
— Dak Prescott (@dak) July 12, 2017
Harper has never been shy about his love for the Cowboys, even though he plays in a city that houses a division rival.
Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona would have been at the helm of the American League All-Star team on Tuesday night, but a heart procedure meant he had to skip the game.
Instead, Francona’s bench coach, Brad Mills, took charge of the team — but he made sure Francona was represented, albeit unconventionally.
Terry Francona couldn't make it to the #ASG but Brad Mills made sure he was there anyway.
Get well soon, Tito! https://t.co/cqq2AcpO4E
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 12, 2017
It has to be said that Francona will probably be flattered by this depiction.
Mills and Francona have known each other and worked together for years, and have a very vitriolic, joke-filled friendship. It’s no surprise that Mills would take an opportunity like this to taunt Francona a little.
Joe Girardi last managed in the MLB All-Star Game in 2010, and he has some gripes about the format.
The Yankee manager believes that the rule that every team must be represented should be thrown out, with the 25 best players from each league on the roster.
“If the game has that much importance, I think you should take whatever your best roster is,” Girardi said Saturday, via Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media. “Bottom line. I know they wanted to get away from what happened a couple of years ago [in the tied game in 2002], but I found it really hard, as a manager, to tell a player that he wasn’t going to play and hold him back.”
Girardi also feels that players should be allowed to re-enter the game under certain circumstances.
“I thought that was really unfair,” Girardi continued. “If you want to make it count, I think you ought to have reentry rules in a sense. I don’t think that’s right. It might be a player’s only All-Star Game. You’re not going to play? That bothers me.
“It’s tough. You think about all the work they put in and they probably dream about playing next to some of those guys and you don’t get a chance. If it is going to count, I think there are some rules they should really look at.”
Major League Baseball has long struggled to balance their tradition of involving the fans with staging a competitive, meaningful game since the winning league started receiving home field advantage in the World Series in 2003. Everything Girardi suggests makes sense, although re-entry for pitchers is probably unfeasible with the potential for throwing and getting cold again. If MLB wants to stage a truly competitive game, they have to go all the way with it. Cut out fan voting to prevent things like this from taking place, kill the rule that puts a player from every team in the game, and play it like it’s a regular game that matters. Either that or go to my preferred option — let the fans vote, let every team have a representative, and restore the game to being an exhibition, giving World Series home field to whichever team in it has the superior record. It just makes sense.
At the start of the week, Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout was the only player not on the Kansas City Royals roster who was the leader at his position in the 2015 MLB All-Star Game voting for the American League. Now that millions of votes have been scrubbed, that is likely to change.
Bob Bowman, the CEO of MLB Advanced Media, told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports on Thursday that more than 60 million All-Star Game votes have been disallowed because of concerns over illegal voting practices.
“I’m not saying we bat 1.000,” Bowman said of the legitimacy of the voting process. “But it’s between 60 and 65 million votes that have been canceled. We don’t really trumpet it because if someone thinks they’re getting away with it, they’ll try to again.”
Most of the votes that were nixed almost certainly came from Royals fans. How do we know this? Because a #VoteRoyals movement has been started on social media, and a Royals fan blog has an entire set of instructions for how fans can cast unlimited votes. MLB rules only allow 35 votes per email address.
Passan wrote about the “issue” — if you even want to call it that — in detail. While there are plenty of Royals players who are deserving of an All-Star nod, it makes little sense for someone like Eric Hosmer to receive more votes than Miguel Cabrera.
Then again, MLB officials have made the Midsummer Classic into a popularity contest. If Royals fans are committed enough that they have found a way to stuff the ballot box, I say we let them have it. Perhaps they just care about the All-Star Game more than fans of other teams.
This isn’t quite as complicated as the way San Francisco Giants fans cheated in 2007 to vote for Barry Bonds. It’s more of a loophole than anything.
Derek Jeter scored the first run for the American League on Tuesday night in his final MLB All-Star Game. After doubling off Adam Wainwright in the first, Jeter scored on a Mike Trout triple. One MLB Network analyst predicted that exact series of events before the game, and we have the video to prove it.
Trout spoke about how special the 2014 All-Star Game was going to be for Derek Jeter just hours before it started. Here’s what Greg Amsinger said would happen.
“It’s gonna be awesome man,” Amsinger said. “When you drive in Derek Jeter tonight in his final All-Star Game, it’s gonna be so cool. He’s gonna be at second base, you’ll hit a rope down the line, you’ll end up at third. He’s gonna tip his cap to you — it’s gonna be great.”
So the triple went over Yasiel Puig’s head instead of down the line — big freakin’ deal. Amsinger absolutely nailed that. Even if he said Jeter would hit a single and Trout would drive him in with a triple, we would still give credit. He called the entire thing perfectly.
Whether Wainwright grooved a pitch to Jeter or not, baseball is almost impossible to predict like that. Props to Amsinger even if he was guessing.
H/T MLB.com’s Cut 4
Matt Kemp is the captain of the National League Home Run Derby team at next month’s All-Star Game, and he says he’s picked out his squad. Despite his prodigious power, Nationals rookie Bryce Harper didn’t make Kemp’s cut.
“It’s not because he’s a rookie. It’s just that there are other guys out there that are capable,” Kemp told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m not saying he wouldn’t do a good job in the Home Run Derby. He’s going to have plenty of time to participate in many Home Run Derbies. Just not this year. Nothing against him. I love watching him play.”
Kemp says he based his decision on stats, and Harper is only tied for 50th in the National League with 7 home runs. Based on his reasoning, it’s understandable why Harper was left off. And given that Kemp is captain, he can choose whomever he wants based on whatever criteria he wants. He’s doing nothing wrong.
The problem is that MLB has screwed things up once again.