The 29th Home Run Derby and the 84th Mid-Summer Classic is in the books, and all around MLB today the “re-openers” are kicking off the second half of the season…and I was there!
The first half gave way to “Puig-mania,” the 2013 version of “Fernando-mania” that swept over L.A. in the 80’s, the hapless Pirates who secured the fact that they WILL finish above .500 for the first time in over 2 decades, and that the pitchers were back on their game, giving batters in both league fits! Whiffs have been on the rise… 19.8% of the outs so far have been of the swing and miss variety…not to mention there was a near “Perfect” game (Darvish) just two games into this years campaign and two “no-no’s” thrown just 17 days apart! (Bailey, Lincecum)
New York, the city that never sleeps was hosting their 9th ever All-Star game, this installment was only the Mets second (1964 was the first) in their franchise history.
The Home Run Derby was Monday’s Main Event and was won by the least likely of players, a player who didn’t make the All-Star roster, and wasn’t even the first replacement for the Derby, Yocensis Cespedas. Cespedas who only 2 years ago was playing ball in Cuba took Citi Field by storm knocking out 17 “dingers” in the first round, while his eventual counter part Bryce Harper was driving his dad’s “cut fast balls” over the fence in dramatic fashion. The two met in the final round, with 5 outs left, Yocensis hit his 9th and winning home run of the third round… number 32 on the night (6 shy of his 2 year career total).
I woke up Tuesday to the same HOT HUMID STICKY weather as the day before, and took a walk to Times Square which most people consider the “Center of the Universe.” It was only 8am but things were definitely popping, there was a buzz in the air…the city was awake, and ready for the 84th All-Star Game…
At the pitcher friendly Citi Field the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife… two of the best so far this season were set to toe the rubber and kick off this game “chuck” full of superstars. The National League wheeled out Matt Harvey of the Mets, he became only the 3rd Met to start an All-Star Game (Seaver, and Gooden). The American League countered with Tiger, Max Scherzer who at the break was 13-1. The game certainly lived up to its low scoring expectations, the National League’s power house line up only managed 3 hits and no runs, while the American League spread out 9 hits, and scored 3 times.
In the night of the “pitcher,” came the highlight of the evening … Mariano Rivera’s 13th and final All-Star game appearance (only second to Warren Spahn for appearances by a pitcher). With the score 3-0 in his favor, American League skipper Jim Leyland brought in the “Sandman” (Rivera) in the bottom of the 8th to assure the future Hall of Famer a chance to get in the game, and put his final mark on the Mid-Summer Classic.
If you’re a Mariano fan, a fan of the Yankees, or the American League…that’s exactly what he did. The inning was “storybook,” and the hero walked off into the sunset unscathed, maintaining his 0.00 lifetime ERA in the All-Star Game. If you were a fan of the Brewers, Mo was the LAST person you wanted to see in that inning, because the Dominican Duo were scheduled to hit. As it turned out Jean Segura hit into 4-3 ground out to start the inning, while the Carlos Gomez finished the 1-2-3 inning with a 6-3 ground out.
The ninth was uneventful even though the N.L. got their third (and last) hit of the game, a double by Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt. The Senior Circuit was still unable to score. The American League won 3-0 and notched their first win since 2009, giving them home field advantage in this years World Series…maybe Mariano will get one last hurrah at Yankee Stadium…