Manny Machado, Jose Fernandez Shine As ASG Highlights MLB's Top Young Stars
The MLB All-Star Game was "a showcase for the game’s newest batch of young talent," as a "new group of phenoms made their All-Star debuts, and they did not disappoint," according to Albert Chen of SI.com. Mets P Matt Harvey "shut down the AL lineup over two scoreless innings," while Marlins P Jose Fernandez was "impressive in the top of the sixth, retiring Dustin Pedroia, Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis on 13 pitches." Orioles 3B Manny Machado "made the defensive play of the game" when he backhanded a groundball hit by D'Backs 1B Paul Goldschmidt down the line (SI.com, 7/17). MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince writes the game let a national audience "soak in the sensational third-base play" of Machado and gave Fernandez the "chance to show why some think he'll go down as the best pitcher to ever come out of Cuba." It "was a joy" to see Harvey, Fernandez, D'Backs P Patrick Corbin and Rays P Matt Moore "make what could be the first of many All-Star appearances" (MLB.com, 7/17). Red Sox DH David Ortiz said, "I like the fact that there's a lot of young, talented players in this room. It's not pretty much the same people over and over and over. You want the game to get better. You want people to get to know the new faces of the game, the future of the game" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 7/17).
HARVEY DANGER: In N.Y., Andrew Keh notes Harvey "experienced a whirlwind 24 hours surrounding his start" at last night's All-Star Game. It would be a "memorable night for Harvey, a night that seemed certain to raise his profile." During player introductions, Harvey "received the loudest ovation -- even louder, it seemed, than the one David Wright received moments earlier." Harvey's "anonymity may be fading" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/17). In Newark, Steve Politi writes if the Harvey "phenomena hadn’t quite left the city before this -- and, if his appearance on 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon' this week is any indication, he hasn’t quite penetrated all five boroughs here -- this was a first glimpse for the casual fan of his arsenal." And Harvey "wants the attention" (Newark STAR LEDGER, 7/17). In S.F., Bruce Jenkins writes Harvey has a "way about him, a natural-born celebrity without the ego" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/17). In N.Y., Kevin Kernan writes Harvey, like Wright, has been "an Amazin’ ambassador for this game and shot the Fallon video Monday morning." MLB VP/Business PR Matt Bourne said of Harvey, "He’s great to work with. He really connects with the people. That is the No. 1 video on YouTube right now." Kernan writes Harvey is a "new age social media star, glowing in the 24-hour spotlight that is New York City." In some ways he "reminds of a modern version of Broadway Joe Namath" (N.Y. POST, 7/17).
FACE OF THE NATION: ESPN.com's Jayson Stark examined the question of who is currently the "Face of Baseball." While many people inside MLB believe “the game comes first,” that is “NOT how those on the outside see it.” Angels CF Mike Trout and Nationals CF Bryce Harper came into MLB on the same day last April and they “were going to do for baseball what Larry Bird and Magic Johnson once did for the NBA.” While both players won the Rookie of the Year, Stark questioned whether they have “truly turned into the Face of Baseball.” He wondered if MLB has ever launched the “sort of eyeball-grabbing Trout-Harper How Can You Miss THIS? Parade that seemed ready to bust out any minute last summer.” Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Dir Paul Swangard said, “It starts with the athletes and works backwards. If they’re willing and able, Major League Baseball should do everything in its power to hitch its wagon to these two guys.” But Stark noted even if MLB “wanted to ride the Trout-Harper wave … the dynamics within their own teams, and the keep-your-helmet-on culture that pervades every clubhouse, make that tougher than you’d think.” Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera, who last year won the first Triple Crown since ’67, “would make a spectacular Face of Baseball in a million ways,” but he also “presents many of the same issues.” Cabrera is “surrounded in his clubhouse by some of the biggest names in his sport.” Tigers President & GM Dave Dombrowski noted Cabrera also “is really not looking for a lot of press exposure.” Dombrowski also admitted that there is the “language barrier, which, unfortunately, is impossible to ignore” (ESPN.com, 7/16).
LOOKING FOR MLB'S LEBRON: MLB Network's Chris Rose asked, "Who's the face of baseball moving forward? I don't think its 39-year-old Derek Jeter anymore. It's obviously not Alex Rodriguez or any of those guys. So a guy like Bryce Harper, a guy like Mike Trout can take the mantle right now. You have to have cross-section appeal to be the face of an entire sport. It's why LeBron James can sell so much merchandise ... he is the face of basketball. There are a couple guys that are the faces of the NFL, and I think there are a bunch of guys wrestling for that honor in our sport right now." MLB Net's Kevin Millar: "The faces of this game are the young bloods coming up -- your Trouts and your Harpers and Harveys. ... You're almost seeing a changing of the guard" ("Intentional Talk," MLBN, 7/16).