While we can all agree that deciding which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series in the MLB All-Star Game is a stupid idea, that never seems to detract from the actual game itself.
Year in and year out, the best baseball players on the planet give us an entertaining contest and some remarkable performances. Now, last night’s iteration may not have given us a Hideo Nomo performance or Torii Hunter thievery, but there were some fantastic moments in the American League’s 6-3 victory over the Senior Circuit.
Here are the four most impressive performances from the 2015 MLB All-Star Game in Cincinnati.
Once the dog days of summer roll around, not a day goes by without mention of how Mike Trout is the best baseball player alive — at just 23 years old. And while everyone knows Trout’s credentials, not everybody gets to see him play on a regular basis due to his West Coast home.
It’s one thing to hear and know about Trout’s greatness; it’s another thing entirely to see it on display. Last night, Trout became the first player in Major League history to win back-to-back All-Star Game MVPs, doing so by displaying the type of athleticism we haven’t seen on the diamond since Bo Jackson’s hip officially forced the force of nature to retire.
It began when Trout led the game off with a home run – and doing so against a pitcher in Zack Greinke who has not surrendered a run in nearly 36 innings in games that count in the standings.
Talk about power. Trout absolutely crushed the ball the opposite way against the MLB leader in ERA, with Greinke holding an unthinkable 1.39 ERA at present. Oh, and it happened to complete the career All-Star Game cycle for Trout.
As impressive as Trout’s pure power is, it’s nothing in comparison to the way he runs. At 6’2" and 230 pounds, he’s not only one of the biggest players in baseball, but he also just may be the fastest. That’s what makes the Bo Jackson comparisons so apt.
It began when he beat out what looked like a dead double play ball, and then elevated to another level when he scored from second on a single, flying around the bases so quickly that it blew away fellow young star, and leading NL MVP candidate, Bryce Harper.
He’s just on a different level than us mere mortals. Shit, he’s on a different level than his fellow All-Stars. As Howie Long said of Bo in “You Don’t Know Bo,” he “makes great athletes look average.”
As a Phillies fan, there have been few things more satisfying than watching the Mets fall from the top of the NL East to chokers and then afterthoughts. It was fun while it lasted, but those days are now long gone.
While New York has cooled a bit after a hot start, the Mets are still just two games back from the Nationals for the NL East lead, and they are absolutely loaded with young arms.
That stable is headlined by Matt Harvey, but with his injury woes, a new man has taken over as the ace. Last night, Jacob deGrom showed why he was the lone New Yorker for the NL to toe the rubber in the All-Star Game.
In an inning of work, deGrom faced three batters, and he struck all three of them out with some of the most devastating pitches thrown all night. His fastball routinely clocked in at 97 mph, with movement that made Stephen Vogt, Jason Kipnis and Jose Iglesias look like fools. All three of them not only struck out, but they all went down swinging.
As Tom Verducci said during the contest, you simply don’t see so many swings and misses by hitters in the All-Star Game. But we did last night, thanks to the filthy stuff from guys like deGrom, who shined more than any other normal starter in the Midsummer Classic.
Perhaps the only player who looked more impressive than deGrom was Aroldis Chapman. Pitching in his home stadium, the Reds closer equaled deGrom’s feat, facing three batters and sitting all three down via strikeout. But Chapman did it with even somehow nastier stuff than the Mets ace.
Chapman, a player I was lucky enough to see pitch in person at Wrigley Field, simply blew away the AL batters by pumping out fastballs in the 100-103 mph range. His velocity was perhaps even an ounce greater than it normally is for the man who has thrown more 100-mph-plus pitches than the rest of the pitchers in Major League Baseball combined, really feeding off the All-Star atmosphere.
Aroldis made Brock Holt, Mike Moustakas and Mark Teixeira look like Little Leaguers out there, fanning them all swinging just like deGrom.
Aroldis Chapman is simply amazing to watch hurl a baseball. And frankly, it’s not fair he can throw that hard that consistently. Just ask Holt, Moustakas and Teixeira.
You can feel whatever way you want about Pete Rose, particularly given the new revelations that have surfaced. He deserves all the criticism he’s gotten in the same way no one, no matter what, can take away all those hits for the MLB’s all-time hits leader.
But no matter your feelings, watching the Cincinnati faithful give Rose a long standing ovation, along with fellow Franchise Four honorees Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin and Joe Morgan, was simply awesome, and there was no better way to get the festivities under way.
Hit King @PeteRose_14 walks out on to the field to a standing ovation at Great American Ball Park. #ASG https://t.co/lnXiUPkBIt
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) July 14, 2015
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