MLB All-Star Game hints at possible Dodgers vs. Yankees showdown

Baseball’s All-Star Game was a sweet treat, a refreshingly icy blast on a hot July afternoon, a nod to the tradition of the game that had enough new folds and fresh personalities to make it entertaining and help shape the universe -Keep star format alive for years to come.

This year’s version might even have given a taste of a possible matchup between the Dodgers and the New York Yankees World Series in October. How nice would it be to see Clayton Kershaw beat Aaron Judge again and Tony Gonsolin get another chance against Panorama City native Giancarlo Stanton after the Yankees outfielder tagged him for a two-run home run in the fourth inning on Tuesday ?

The result of the game – a 3-2 American League win over the National League – will quickly fade from memory. But it was a fun break from the excitement of division and wildcard racing, a happy couple of hours for fans to forget injuries and speculation about the August 2nd trade deadline and just enjoy the best players in the sport while a hot day passed a soft Tuesday twilight against the picturesque backdrop of Dodger Stadium.

The tribute to Rachel Robinson, widow of Dodgers great Jackie Robinson, was stylish and meaningful, maintaining a connection to the team’s rich history. The appointment of future Hall of Famers Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols to the AL and NL teams, respectively, drew the right note of respect from fans and players alike. The players were excited, involved. So were the fans.

“There was a lot of energy on the coaching bench. I was kind of surprised at how the guys got into it,” said Brian Snitker, National League manager. “The energy that came out of the dugout was good all night. It was fun. All of the players made the game fun and excited for us all with their energy and we had a lot of first-time All-Stars.

“You know, the fact that we got to watch Albert get a bat and be with him for the last few days was cool.”

Putting a camera on home plate umpire Bill Miller and providing microphones for Toronto pitcher Alek Manoah and New York Yankees catcher Jose Trevino were great uses of the technology. Manoah managed to hit the side in the second inning while speaking to Fox announcers Joe Davis and John Smoltz. Trevino said loudly, “I can’t believe I’m an all-star, man,” before reaching base and continuing the conversation, at one point asking the first base coach if he should run with two outs. Insights from players humanize them and keep fans engaged.

The game was also a reminder that even in a cynical world, it pays to dream big because sometimes those dreams do come true.

Stanton, who started at left field and was voted Most Valuable Player of the Game, was an All-CIF award winner in football, baseball and basketball at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High. As a kid, he would often make his way to Dodger Stadium to watch batting practice, chase foul balls, and beg anyone playing on left field to throw him a ball. “I need about 30 minutes with no traffic, but we all know LA. That’s two hours,” he said of the distance to his parents’ home.

New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton holds the All-Star MVP award after leading the American League to victory.

New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton holds the All-Star MVP award after leading the American League to victory in Tuesday night’s MLB All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

His favorites were Raul Mondesi, Mike Piazza and Hideo Nomo. But he did enjoy watching “Big Bops,” his name for Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds. “Even for two at-bats, just try to drive over here, get a ticket off the street and come and try to see what they can do in two at-bats,” Stanton said.

“It all goes in circles when I’m out there.”

AL manager Dusty Baker’s dream of playing in an All-Star game at Dodger Stadium has been long delayed but not denied. He had a strong season when the 1980 game was held here, but six other Dodgers were selected ahead of him. The pain he had carried all these years hurt a little less on Tuesday.

“Nothing makes playing worth it,” he said, “but I’ll tell you it was fun to sit in the dugout and see the lads how they were together, especially when everyone knew we were dating a couple.” Days as a team meets team, and now we’re going our own way.”

There is no perfect format for All-Star games, and what used to be a strong tradition has lost importance in professional sports.

The Pro Bowl, traditionally held the week before the Super Bowl, could reportedly disappear altogether, a victim of repeated star player failures and format obsolescence. Defense is little more than a rumor in the NBA’s All-Star competition: In last season’s game, Team LeBron earned a 163-160 win over Team Durant. NHL All-Star competitions became no-hitters long ago, and removing physicality also took away much of the game’s appeal. The NHL recently developed a division-based format in which teams compete in a three-on-three mini-tournament and play for a $1 million prize. That increased the intensity, but it’s still not ideal. It’s kind of hockey, but kind of not.

Major League Baseball got a lot of things right on Tuesday. It’s also fortunate because of a stellar location, the emergence of new personalities, and the promise of a repeat of those Dodger-Yankees matches in a couple of months when more than league pride is at stake.

“It’s been planned that way on paper for a couple of years, so now both sides have to take care of the deal and get it done,” Stanton said.

The Dodgers and Yankees have their jobs: get it done. So does Major League Baseball: Keep the All-Star Game fun and interesting for next year and beyond. MLB All-Star Game hints at possible Dodgers vs. Yankees showdown

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