The MLB All-Star Game pregame ceremony was "knocked out of the park during a celebration of baseball and patriotism," according to La Velle Neal III of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. A group of local choirs "dressed in red, white and blue robes and formed a human flag." Additionally, a total of 29 Medal of Honor recipients "lined up across the infield and received thunderous applause." A military flyover "topped it all off" as the crowd "roared with delight" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/18). YAHOO SPORTS' Mike Oz notes James McCloughan, a "combat medic who risked his life on nine separate occasions in a 48-hour span to rescue wounded soldiers," was one of the Medal of Honor winners honored and he threw out the first pitch. It served as an "exclamation point on a stunningly patriotic pregame ceremony" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/18). Fox' Joe Buck said, "For one night in our nation's capital, it doesn't matter if you are liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat -- everyone comes together to celebrate our national pastime" ("MLB All-Star Game," Fox, 7/17).
STRONG REACTION ON TWITTER: Presidential author/journalist Paul Brandus tweeted, "Plenty of patriotism at #AllStarGame. ... Baseball is a unifying force in this divided city." MASN's Pete Kerzel: "Very moving tribute to Medal of Honor winners." Boston Herald's Steve Buckley: "The real All-Stars: 29 Medal of Honor recipients." Topps Editor-in-Chief Chris Vaccaro: "Goosebumps. ... No greater country or game in the world" (TWITTER.com, 7/17).
CARRY A BIG STICK: In N.Y., Ken Davidoff notes the AL's 8-6 extra-inning win in the All-Star Game was a "seesaw battle that symbolized its time: Homers galore, and strikeouts for everyone, too." Ten home runs were hit by 10 different players, which "destroyed the previous Midsummer Classic record of six." Meanwhile, a total of 25 batters "struck out, to boot" (N.Y. POST, 7/18). In Boston, Peter Abraham writes last night's game was "befitting how baseball is played" in '18 (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/18). It was a "very appropriate reflection of the state of the game" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/18). Last night's game "played out like a miniature, full-speed home run derby" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/18). Fox' John Smoltz said, "We definitely saw the them of baseball: power, power, power. A lot of home runs, a lot of strikeouts" ("MLB All-Star Game," Fox, 7/17). AL manager A.J. Hinch: "Standard operations nowadays, right? We're going to homer and punch out as an industry" (USA TODAY, 7/18).
GOING YARD: MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince notes last night was the "first game in MLB history -- regular season, postseason or All-Star -- in which five different players homered for each team." Blue Jays P J.A. Happ said, "It was like a regular-season game with the home runs accounting for pretty much everything" (MLB.com, 7/18). In Philadelphia, Scott Lauber notes 13 of the 14 runs were "driven in by homers" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/18). Giants SS Brandon Crawford: "There were some big arms on both sides, and a few guys connected. That’s going to happen when you have a lot of power arms and power bats" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/18). With the possibility there will be "more strikeouts than hits in the league this season for the first time," last night's developments "weren’t surprising." Twins P Jose Berrios: "That’s the All-Star Game. That’s what everyone wants to see" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/18).
DERBY DEFENDERS: In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck notes MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark yesterday countered the idea that the Home Run Derby is "waning in popularity among the players" despite the fact that just two of MLB's top 10 home run hitters at the break "agreed to take part in it." He said, "Before the Home Run Derby (last year), did fans know who Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge were? The answer is yes. After the Derby (this year), more people are going to know Rhys Hoskins, Max Muncy, Jesus Aguilar, any of those guys. The event was phenomenal.” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said of the Derby, "It was really a lot of different guys putting on a great show ... It was a great show, really good for the sport." Schmuck: "All that said, MLB needs to find a way to make it more attractive to the game's elite power guys" (BALTIMORE SUN, 7/18). ESPN's Mark Teixeira said, "Everybody in the stadium was standing up during Harper's at-bat. Every single person. In the World Series Gave 7, you don't have people standing up like that" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 7/17).