2017 All-Star Game
The 2017 All-Star Game, the 88th edition of the Mid-summer Classic, took place on Tuesday July 11, 2017 at Marlins Park in Miami, FL. It was the first time the game was played in the state of Florida, even though it is home to two major league teams: ballpark concerns had prevented the awarding of the game to either franchise until the opening of Marlins Park in 2012. It was also be the third consecutive time that the game was played in a National League park, an unprecedented development that will be furthered in 2018 when the game is scheduled to take place a Nationals Park in Washington, DC.
The American League won the game over the National League, 2-1, in 10 innings, thanks to a homer by Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners who was named the recipient of the Ted Williams Award as the game's MVP as a result. Prior to the homer, the game had been dominated by pitching, except for each league scoring once in the middle innings. The AL's win evened the all-time record in the game to 43 wins for each league, with two ties.
As a result of the Collective Bargaining Agreement reached before the season, the result of the game no longer determined home field advantage for the World Series. Other changes included smaller rosters for both leagues, with 32 spots in total for each team, or two fewer than in previous years. The squads were composed of 20 position players and 12 pitchers, with the starters (9 in the American League and 8 in the National League) voted by fans as in previous years, but reserves and pitchers - except for the winners of the Final Man Vote - being picked by a vote of players and by the Commissioner's office, the two managers no longer having a say in the matter. The Commissioner's role was largely to ensure that the principle of every major league team being represented by at least one player at the game was respected. The managers still got to select a starting pitcher, but from among the rosters selected by others. The Sunday Starter rule was also loosened, to provide some leeway for limited usage of pitchers falling under the rule's scope with the consent of the pitchers and their team.
The viewership ratings for the game on FOX were up slightly following the previous year's all-time low, with a 5.5 national rating, an 11 share and an estimated 9.28 million viewers.
Brad Mills, bench coach of the Cleveland Indians, subbing for hospitalized manager Terry Francona, managed the American League team, assisted by coach Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays and other members of the Indians coaching staff.
The game was a low-scoring affair with plenty of strikeouts and dominant pitching performances, but as was characteristic in a year in which a number of home run records were set, two of the three runs, including the deciding one, were the result of longs balls, albeit not from the most likely sources. The game went to extra innings for the first time since 2008, but in the end, the AL squeezed out a win, its 5th straight and 17th in the last 21 contests (with one tie). As a result, the two leagues were now equal in all-time victories, with 43 each and two ties. Even more, the two leagues were equal on runs too, each having scored 361!
The pre-game ceremonies featured a tribute to Latin-American members of the Hall of Fame, with all living Latin members being present to throw the ceremonial first pitch, including Panamanian Rod Carew, just six months removed from a heart and kidney transplant, but looking fine nonetheless. The family of the late Roberto Clemente was also present, and tribute was also paid to the early Latin American pioneers of the game who are members in the Hall of Fame - Martin Dihigo, Jose Mendez and Cristobal Torriente. For the second straight year, there was a controversy around the playing of the Canadian national anthem, as the pop singer selected to interpret it inexplicably began to giggle in the middle of one of the verses.
When the game began, starting pitchers Max Scherzer and Chris Sale were both expeditive, with Scherzer allowing a one-out single to José Ramírez before striking out the next two batters. Sale was the only AL pitcher to go two innings; he gave up a two-out single to Bryce Harper in the 1st, then the NL threatened to do something in the 2nd as Daniel Murphy and Nolan Arenado led off with back-to-back singles. However, Sale forced Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a double play and struck out Marcell Ozuna swinging to end a fine outing. Meanwhile, Pat Neshek worked around a sharply-hit single by Justin Smoak in the top of the 2nd and Carlos Martinez followed him with the only extended mound presence by a National League hurler. The St. Louis Cardinals' ace allowed a two-out single to Ramírez in the 3rd, but struck out Aaron Judge to end the inning after Ramírez had stolen second base. In the 4th, he walked Smoak with two outs, but struck out Corey Dickerson for the last out. There was a nice play to end the 2nd inning, as RF Harper made a diving catch to deny Salvador Perez a possible double.
The NL threatened again against Dellin Betances in the bottom of the 3rd as the New York Yankees' set-up man allowed a lead-off single to Zack Cozart, then after a pair of strikeouts, uncorked a wild pitch to move Cozart to second. He walked Harper and let another wild pitch loose, moving the two runners to scoring position. However, he got Murphy to ground out to Ramírez at third to end the threat. In the bottom of the 4th, as the first defensive substitutes came into play, Jason Vargas pitched the first 1-2-3 inning of the game to keep it scoreless.
The AL got on the board first in the 5th: after Alex Wood had got two quick outs, Jonathan Schoop doubled past Nolan Arenado's reach down the third base line and Miguel Sano followed by blooping a ball among a trio of Washington Nationals players down the first base line, with neither RF Harper, 2B Murphy or 1B Zimmerman able to reach it. Schoop scored easily, but Sano, who was jogging lazily thinking the ball would land foul, stopped at first base. It did not matter though as Judge hit a fly ball to CF Charlie Blackmon for the final out. Brandon Kintzler was next on the mound, and he made quick work of the NL in the bottom of the 5th, with three ground ball outs. After the inning, Major League Baseball payed tribute to cancer victims with all fans, players and umpires holding a sign in support of the "Stand Up to Cancer" initiative; for the umps, it was an occasion to pay tribute to former colleague and supervisor Steve Palermo, a recent victim of the disease. The NL then changed almost its entire team before the top of the 6th, with Zack Greinke coming to pitch. He allowed a single to Yonder Alonso after two outs, but got pinch-hitter Nelson Cruz to fly out to center. In an amusing aside, Cruz pulled a smart phone out of his back pocket as he stepped to the plate and had C Yadier Molina take a picture of him standing with home plate umpire Joe West; it was clearly a tribute to West having recently reached the impressive total of 5,000 career games as an umpire, and the usually gruff arbiter cracked a rare smile.
In the bottom of the 6th, Molina hit a home run to the opposite filed off Ervin Santana with one out. Of all the sluggers in the game, it was one of the least likely power sources who hit the first long ball, as Yadier had only 21 homers over the past two and a half seasons, less than a lot of participants had hit in the first half of 2017 alone. The game then remained tied at one-all until the end of regulation innings. In the 7th, Brad Hand was the first NL hurler to post a 1-2-3 inning, then in the 8th Roberto Osuna allowed a one-out single to Michael Conforto but immediately induced Corey Seager to ground into a double play. Greg Holland allowed only a two-out single in the 8th, then Chris Devenski retired the NL in order in the bottom of the inning. Just like it looked like all the bats had gone to sleep, there were significant scoring chances for both sides in the 9th, in spite of top-notch closers being on the mound. Kenley Jansen allowed a lead-off single to Alonso, and the slow-footed first baseman caught him completely off-guard by stealing second. Jansen recovered by getting Cruz and Gary Sanchez to strike out, but while facing Avisail Garcia, committed a balk, a rarity in an All-Star Game, to move Alonso to third. He recovered by striking out Garcia. Craig Kimbrel came in to pitch the bottom of the 9th and he got into immediate trouble as well by walking Molina. Josh Harrison struck out, but C Sanchez then failed to handle a high fastball, allowing Molina to reach second on the passed ball. Jake Lamb then drew another walk and Paul Goldschmidt got some good wood on the ball, hitting a fly ball to deep center, where it was caught by Garcia. Even Molina, no speed merchant, could take third on the long out, and Lamb followed suit on the next pitch by moving to second on defensive indifference. Kimbrel was concentrating on the batter, Michael Conforto, however, and struck him out to end the threat.
It was in that context, with fans bracing for a possible long evening - the 2008 game had gone 15 innings - that Robinson Cano took his star turn after having been named a late replacement to the AL squad when Starlin Castro had to bow out because of an injury. On the very first pitch from Wade Davis, he parked a ball beyond the right field fence for a no-doubt homer, and the AL had a 2-1 lead. Davis struck out Mike Moustakas but then gave up a single to Justin Upton. He seemed rattled, until he made a nice play on a comebacker by Michael Brantley, turning it into an inning-ending double play. Brad Mills, the Cleveland Indians' bench coach subbing for manager Terry Francona, who had just been hospitalized with heart trouble, called on his own pitcher, Andrew Miller, to end the game. He got three-ball counts on both Seager and Ender Inciarte, but retired them both, with the help of a great catch by RF Upton to get Seager, before Joey Votto was able to coax a walk. Up stepped sensational rookie Cody Bellinger, but he was not to be the hero tonight: Miller struck him out to end the game. Cano was named the winner of the Ted Williams Award as the game's MVP, his home run having been the deciding blow. One bad note was that the stands were noticeably half-empty by the time Cano hit his decisive homer, something that would likely contribute to Miami's reputation as an indifferent baseball town.
|American League|| Batting
|Jose Altuve||2B||Houston Astros||1||Charlie Blackmon||CF||Colorado Rockies|
|José Ramírez||3B||Cleveland Indians||2||Giancarlo Stanton||DH||Miami Marlins|
|Aaron Judge||RF||New York Yankees||3||Bryce Harper||RF||Washington Nationals|
|George Springer||LF||Houston Astros||4||Buster Posey||C||San Francisco Giants|
|Carlos Correa||SS||Houston Astros||5||Daniel Murphy||2B||Washington Nationals|
|Justin Smoak||1B||Toronto Blue Jays||6||Nolan Arenado||3B||Colorado Rockies|
|Corey Dickerson||DH||Tampa Bay Rays||7||Ryan Zimmerman||1B||Washington Nationals|
|Salvador Perez||C||Kansas City Royals||8||Marcell Ozuna||LF||Miami Marlins|
|Mookie Betts||CF||Boston Red Sox||9||Zack Cozart||SS||Cincinnati Reds|
|Chris Sale||P||Boston Red Sox||SP||Max Scherzer||P||Washington Nationals|
American: Chris Sale, Dellin Betances, Jason Vargas, Brandon Kintzler, Ervin Santana, Roberto Osuna, Chris Devenski, Craig Kimbrel (W), Andrew Miller (SV)
National: Max Scherzer, Pat Neshek, Carlos Martinez, Alex Wood, Zack Greinke, Brad Hand, Greg Holland, Kenley Jansen, Wade Davis (L)
Joe West's nomination to work home plate came in the wake of his becoming only the third umpire in history to have worked 5,000 major league games a few weeks earlier, while Angel Hernandez was named a few days after a lawsuit he had filed against Major League Baseball alleging racial discrimination had been made public.
- Anthony Castrovince: "FAQ: All you need to know about ASG rosters", mlb.com, June 30, 2017. 
- Michael Clair: "The 10 best moments from the 2017 All-Star Game", "Cut4", mlb.com, July 12, 2017. 
- Alyson Footer: "Latin-American players honored before ASG", mlb.com, July 11, 2017. 
- Joe Frisaro: "Marlins unveil 2017 All-Star Game logo: Next year's Midsummer Classic to be played at Marlins Park in Miami", mlb.com, July 27, 2016. 
- Joe Frisaro: "Miami ASG drama: It ain't Cano-ver until 10th!", mlb.com, July 12, 2017. 
- Steve Gardner: "Robinson Cano's 10th inning home run lifts American League to All-Star Game victory", USA Today Sports, Juy 12, 2017. 
- Bob Nightengale: "With All-Star Game result no longer tied to World Series, there's a new incentive to win", USA Today Sports, July 2, 2017. 
- Bob Nightengale: "MLB All-Star Game gets silly with little on the line", USA Today Sports, July 12, 2017. 
- Jorge L. Ortiz: "MLB All-Star Game: Selections show modern game is in constant state of flux", USA Today Sports, July 3, 2017. 
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