The Mid-Summer Classic has passed and as we all expected, was somewhat of a dud. Though watching four Orioles participate (and one in Chris Tillman watch from the bullpen) is nice for Baltimore, a 3-0 victory for the AL, giving up only three hits, was kind of a bore for the average baseball fan. But there are some things to take away from the festivities and the game itself.
This is my four Baltimore-related observations from the All-Star Break:
1. The Orioles are a very close knit team.
This was never more evident than watching rival Detroit Tiger (and resident big man), Prince Fielder leg out a triple. This GIF says it all (seen here), as the three Orioles starters are seen in the dugout chucking it up; not sure if they were laughing with or at Prince, but he didn’t seem to mind.
But if you go back to Chris Davis’ Home Run Derby performance, Adam Jones was there to support him (and wipe his forehead). These players just seem to really like hanging out with each other; which can only make Buck’s job that much easier. This fun-loving group of young stars should be entertaining to watch for several years.
2. Manny Machado may have been the best defensive player on either roster.
There have been rare moments when a defensive play was the defining moment of the game (Tori Hunter robbing Barry Bonds comes to mind), especially with the amount of power bats each lineup throws out. Yet, Manny wowed both benches (and all of Twitter) with his snag, deep in the third base hole, to rob Paul Goldschmidt of a base hit (seen here).
The play had shades of his “Web-Gem” from Yankee Stadium a week and a half ago; but considering the moment, it actually may be more impressive. Orioles’ fans have been watching his fantastic leather and arm for almost a full season, but now the entire baseball world was able to bear witness.
3. Baseball is in good hands with its young players.
As already mentioned, Manny Machado stole the show defensively, but other youngsters like: Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez and Mike Trout also shined. That core of players (all under 25 years old) could be ambassadors for the game for years to come. Harvey embraced the moment, as the NL starter and host, while displaying his infectious personality during his Jimmy Fallon skit.
Trout has already been widely regarded as one of the best all-around players in baseball, while Machado inserted himself into the conversation with his first-half performance. The blend of fielding and plate discipline the two display may be unparalleled, come 20 years from now. Fernandez also dominated in a tough game for the NL, while all of them acted with maturity beyond their years; on and off the field.
Now only if MLB could get Bryce Harper to grow the hell up (nice hair bro!).
4. Mariano Rivera is the most respected player in the MLB, since Cal Ripken.
In “Mo’s” last All-Star game, his renowned respect was clearly evident; the players gave him a touching moment on the field by himself, when he came into the game in the 8th (seen here). The whole game was about Rivera and he was going to win the MVP, as long as he threw one pitch in the game. The entire display had shades of Cal’s last Mid-Summer Classic; where Alex Rodriquez and Joe Torre forced him to play shortstop and he had that shining-moment home run off Chan Ho Park.
Players in the MLB, no matter the generation, seem to always have an understanding for greatness. Watching legends, like Ripken and Rivera, receive amazing ovations (as only two players to win the All-Star MVP in their final season) is what makes baseball such a tremendous sport.