Baseball returns to its roots at Cleveland’s All-Star Weekend
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Photo courtesy of news5cleveland.com
By Eduardo Harari
TORONTO. – Cleveland might be “The heart of Rock n Roll” as Huey Lewis and the News eloquently said it in their # 1 song of the 1980’s but this past week they touched all baseball fans with a tremendous display of old time Baseball.
This all-star week started with the star filled celebrity softball game with Cleveland stars such as Allie LaForce – Turner Sports broadcaster, Carlos Baerga – Three-time All-Star, Dr. Oz – Television Host, Drew Carey – Comedian, Jim Thome – Hall of Famer, Joe Thomas – Former Cleveland Brown, J.R. Smith – Cleveland Cavalier, Kenny Lofton – Six-time All-Star, Machine Gun Kelly – Musician/Actor, Mike “The Miz” Mizanin – WWE superstar, Quavo – Member of Migos, Rapper/Producer, Simone Biles – Olympic Gold Medalist, Stephanie Beatriz – Actress, Brooklyn 99, Stipe Miocic – MMA Fighter, Travis Hafner – Former Indian, Travis Kelce – KC Chiefs Tight End and as if these were not enough they added Anthony Mackie – Actor, Avengers, Anuel AA – Reggaeton recording artist, Colton Underwood – Former NFLer & TV Personality, Bernie Williams – World Series Champion, Daddy Yankee – Reggaeton recording artist, Dascha Polanco – Actress, Orange is the New Black, Jamie Foxx – Academy Award-winning actor, Jennie Finch – Softball Olympian, Jerry Lorenzo - Fashion/Sneaker Designer, Johnny Bananas – MTV Challenge, Max Greenfield – Actor, New Girl, Priah Ferguson – Actress, Stranger Things, Quincy – Actor, Star, Ryan Howard – World Series Champion, Scott Rogowsky – Comedian & DAZN Host.
The game as usual was full of fun and bloopers but it also brought great moments like when Landon Thome hit an RBI double while his dad Cleveland Hall of Famer Jim Thome sat in the bench. And although the showstopper was performed by former Cleveland cavalier “Shirtless” JR Smith when he tore his shirt after smashing a home run of Olympic Gold Medalist Jane Finch, it was the World Team that came out victorious beating the Cleveland Faithfull 21-16.
This would be the start to a record setting All-Star week in which the Home Run Derby would mesmerize a worldwide audience of Baseball fans for years to come. The Vladimir Guerrero Show was a masterful display of finesse, power and just great natural talent. He started by breaking the previous home run record by 4 with 29 home runs in the first round and then if that wasn’t enough, he battled Joc Pederson and beat him by smashing 40 in the second round. In the third round he smashed another 22 but Pete Alonso outlasted him to beat him with 23 in the final round. When all was set and done Vladdy Jr. had tipped the scales by smashing 91 home runs in the process of 20 minutes. This finally put to rest the questions about his enigma and people got to see why he was the # 1 prospect in Baseball.
The All-Star game was another great showing of the essence of the game of old. Yankees 2nd baseman D.J. LeMahieu reminded us of the fundamental skills of our game by bunting to move the runner forward something not seen in the All-Star game since 1991 when it was executed by Ozzie Guillen.
There was also a show of control and precision by a trio of American league pitchers that combined for 16 strikeouts that reminded everyone of the purity of the game, we learned to love. Then there was the double steal by Paul DeJong and Pete Alonso that brought the memories of the great games of the 60’s and 70’s.
This was also a game to remember those who left us great memories in the game. First we got to see a tribute to excellence and dedication from the past as Cleveland paid tribute to the late Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who became the first African American manager in MLB in 1975 with the Indians.
Then there was the show of solidarity with the family of the recently departed Tyler Skaggs. MLB paid tribute to him by placing a # 45 patch in the uniforms worn by the participating players. Both Mike Trout and Tommy LaStella wore 45 in their uniforms to honor their late teammate.
“I felt him out there with me,’’ said Trout. “In order to represent him, what he meant to us in a stage like this, it’s unbelievable.
“He always wanted to be an All-Star, and tonight he was.’’
There was also a stand of solidarity for Cancer in the 5th inning and Carlos Carrasco stood outside in the 3rd base coach box accompanied by four of his All-Star Teammates and manager Terry Francona holding a sign that said “I Stand” as he currently was diagnosed with a form of Leukemia.
“It was a message to let him know we stand up for you, we all stand next to you,’’ Cleveland All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “We all next to you. We are all right there for you. We all believe in you.
Then there was the farewell tribute to one of the best pitchers in the history of the game, C.C. Sabathia, who played for 10 years in a Cleveland uniform and will be retiring after this season. He was made the All-Star game ambassador and was given the honor of throwing the ceremonial first pitch of the game to his old teammate and All-Star catcher Sandy Alomar.
“This place will always be special, a place where I grew up,’’ said Sabathia, who gave a pre-game speech to the AL All-Star team, one that he called “terrible.’’ “I came here 17 years old as a boy, and left here 27 years old with three kids and a grown man. It will always be a special place for me.
“The one regret in my career is not winning a championship here.’’
It was a game where records were broken by Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman who saved the game for Yankee starter Masahiro Tanaka, the first victory by a Yankee pitcher since Vic Raschi in 1948.
And there was Bieber, who was added to the All-Star Game just four days ago, and pitching in the minors 13 months ago, only to become only the third player in All-Star history to win the MVP in his own ballpark.
“I didn’t really know what to think,’’ Bieber said. “Kind of lost all feeling in my body.’’
Many commented in what this weekend meant and felt.
“I thought the city of Cleveland did a fantastic job,’’ NL manager Dave Roberts said. “The logistics, the city, the weather, the fans [during] the parade, during the game, attentive, cheering for past and present Indians and they were just really engaged.
“So Major League Baseball and the city of Cleveland got it right.’’