SBD/July 12, 2017/Events and Attractions

MLB's All-Star Game Enjoys Relaxed, Fun Atmosphere In Return To Exhibition Format



There was a lighter feel to the proceedings with the World Series tie-in now gone
The MLB All-Star Game was played last night without home-field advantage on the line for the first time since '02, and the pressure being off "showed in the relaxed attitudes" of players at Marlins Park, according to Kristie Ackert of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Fox' broadcast featured Alex Rodriguez "interviewing players at their positions in between innings," while Nationals RF Bryce Harper and Astros RF George Springer talked to the net's Joe Buck "as they played in the outfield." Mariners RF Nelson Cruz prior to his at-bat in the sixth inning handed Cardinals C Yadier Molina his phone to "take a pic of him and home plate umpire Joe West" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/12). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner writes under the header, "With Serious Implications Set Aside, All-Star Game Loosens Its Collar" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/12). In DC, Dave Sheinin writes while the "spectacle of the All-Star Game, the rampant pageantry and symbolism, was as thick as ever, there was a lighter feel to the proceedings this year with the World Series tie-in now gone" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/12). SI's Tom Verducci writes the All-Star Game reminded fans that this is "just an exhibition." The game "should be fun." It also "should also be an exhibition of good baseball, and this one was" (, 7/12). Buck asked Harper if the lack of World Series implications took "any of the fun out of this, the intensity out of this." Harper replied, "No way. ... As baseball players, I feel like we compete every single day. It's hard for the NFL, having them play exhibition games, that Pro Bowl. If they go full bore, they're going to kill somebody. ... It's tough for them. But this game right here, we still go at it and get it and we want to get that W” ("MLB All-Star Game," Fox, 7/11).

: In Seattle, Ryan Divish notes no moment summed up the "return of fun" to the All-Star Game more than Cruz' picture at home plate. West "seemed confused initially, but then removed his mask while Molina knelt in front of the plate and snapped a few pics of the two smiling men" (SEATTLE TIMES, 7/12). In Tampa, Marc Topkin notes Cruz "planned to make it a selfie, but realized with his batting gloves on he couldn't work the phone so that's why he drafted Molina" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 7/12). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes Cruz' picture with West was the "only moment that had the All-Star Game buzzing," and the image will "live forever." Cruz "wondered if he should go ahead" with the idea until he saw Rodriguez on the field earlier in the game. Cruz: "Once I saw stuff during the game, and guys doing interviews on the bench, I said, 'Ok, this wouldn’t be an issue" (USA TODAY, 7/12). YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown writes in a "suddenly very serious world, in a sport that takes itself very seriously, the levity of Nelson Cruz arm-in-arm with Joe West while the catcher snapped a pic made it feel like we’d come to the right place" (, 7/12). Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who led NL team last night, said, "I would bet if the game had counted, he would not have done that." Giants C Buster Posey: "It was fun, but you do have to be careful where you can mess with the integrity of the game a little bit" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/12). CBS Sports' official feed tweeted, "Cruz going with the old 'take out a phone to get a picture with the ump' routine. Classic."'s Mike Petriello: "I love this." Bleacher Report's Joon Lee: "If Nelson Cruz had immediately hit a home run after taking a selfie, it would’ve been the most legendary thing I’ve ever seen at a game." Humor feed MLB Memes: "Cruz is the best 😂😂" (, 7/11).

TRYING NEW THINGS: YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Cwik writes it is "tough to kill the league for experimenting with on-field interviews during the contest." It was a "bold and exciting idea, even if it didn’t totally work the first time around." The interviews were "mostly awkward and forced." There were a few moments where Springer and Harper got to "show off their personalities, but they were sandwiched in between some bland answers." Additionally, both interviews "dragged on a little too long" (, 7/12). In K.C., Sam Mellinger writes Harper and Fox' Joe Buck talking about Cowboys QB Dak Prescott "is illustrative of what baseball’s signature midseason showcase is now and what it can be." MLB stars doing these types of interviews would "only be allowed with baseball stripping away pretense and making its All-Star game a pure exhibition." Fans likely will not remember Harper’s diving catch in the second inning or Mariners 2B Robinson Cano’s winning home run, but they will recall "these between-pitches interviews" and Cruz' picture. This is "exactly the kind of game it was and ... exactly what the All-Star game should be." Mellinger: "Let this be baseball allowing more fun and personality into its game" (K.C. STAR, 7/12).

WHERE'S THE ACTION? USA TODAY's Nightengale writes last night's game "was a yawner," as it "looked more like a regular-season game between two fourth-place teams in the dog days of summer." There were "lots of strikeouts (23), a few walks (six), and two homers, draining all of the pre-game energy out of the sellout crowd" (USA TODAY, 7/12).'s Jerry Crasnick notes the teams "combined to strike out 23 times, right in line with the whiff-happy theme that has come to define baseball of late." Two of the three runs "came on solo homers" (, 7/12). THE RINGER's Zach Kram notes the game was "representative of the sport’s long-term trend of increasing velocity and strikeout totals" (, 7/12). In N.Y., Ken Davidoff writes the game was a "bit of a snoozer," but it "proceeded at a swift pace, lasting a reasonable 3 hours and 16 minutes, even with the extra frame" (N.Y. POST, 7/12). In Chicago, Paul Sullivan writes the crowd "mostly sat on its hands, perhaps a hangover effect from Monday night's Home Run Derby" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/12).

SOUTH BEACH SOUL: A pregame ceremony honored Latin America’s extensive influence on baseball and included current or future HOFers Juan Marichal, Rod Carew, Tony Perez, Roberto Alomar, Pedro Martinez, Ivan Rodriguez and family members of the late Roberto Clemente (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). In St. Louis, Derrick Goold notes Luis Aparicio was honored but "absent from the ceremony." The Venezuela-born Aparicio "decided to make a statement," saying on Twitter that he could not "celebrate while the youth of my country die fighting for ideals of freedom" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/12). In West Palm Beach, Dave George notes Cano, a native of the Dominican Republic, was the game's MVP, while Molina, a Puerto Rican, hit a home run to tie the game at 1. The pregame tribute showed how Miami "flavors up an all-American classic." Additionally, yhere was an "all-night soundtrack of Latin dance music pounding on the stadium speakers." George: "I’m betting Major League Baseball officials got what they wanted out of this one, broadcasting to the world their game’s broadest possible appeal" (PALM BEACH POST, 7/12).
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