The Major League Baseball All-Star Game returned to my current hometown last night, and while the stadium was the same, the staging and the stagers changed.
Instead of Pete Rose, the Phillies were repped by Kyle Schwarber. Instead of George Brett, the Royals were represented by Andrew Benintendi. On the other hand, instead of Rick Honeycutt, the Mariners were represented by Julio Rodridguez. Instead of John Stearns, the Mets were represented by Pete Alonso. So lets call that 50-50.
For consistency, both the ’80 game and last night featured an awful lot of Yankees and Dodgers.
For “progress”, the teams were clad uniformly and drab colors of white, black and gold, with the American League black looking more like athleisure wear than baseball garb. Improving a bit on last year, they at least incorporated the team’s logos and wordmarks, but I for one don’t associate the soutache and Bosox font with these colors, and I doubt I ever will.
As far as the telecast, FOX unveiled some new wrinkles aimed at reaching a younger audience, including the debut of Joe Davis as its new play-by-play announcer and David Ortiz wandering the dugouts during the game for “interviews”, which involved little else than camera mugging by the attention-starved Big Papi. Several players also agreed to be miked for audio on the field, including Yankee battery Nestor Cortes, Junior and Jose Trevino. FOX’s argument was that this allowed for fans to get a lens into on-field strategy. Older fans who have blogs similar to this considered in blasphemy. Judging by the overnights, not a lot of younger ones seemed to watch or care enough to offer this own public opinion.
So summing it up it looks like all lands around the middle, which is exactly where I am, and where the schedule should be, although with each team already playing in the range of 90-95 games we’re a bit further more than halfway done. My fantasy team is 8-7 and tied for the final wild card spot, so even in alternative reality I’m–literally–Even Steven.
I’d be lying if I didn’t offer I’m a bit nervous about the balance of the season. As a Mets fan coming off an eerily similar 2021 start that ultimately saw them blow a large early season lead to Atlanta, and with 12 games still left between the two, their fortunes could go either way. As a lifelong Mets fan, I’m a pessimist by nurture (nature would have made me a Dodgers fan).
But there is a LOT to look forward to. There is now renewed possibility that Juan Soto, effectively the 21st century Ted Williams and Shohei Ohtani, unprecedented as a two-way player in any century, could both be switching teams within the next fortnight. While many of the playoff participants are in great position to advance, there’s no question the balance of power could be shifted by either or both of these superstars.
What happens next? Ahh…that’s the beauty of a marathon. We’ll be guessing for a while, and there’s still a lot of season left.
The exhibitions are done. On with the regular season.