Almanac Baseball: 2018 MLB All Star Game

The annual gala celebrating American exceptionalism to accompany July 4th came and went yesterday.


The MLB All Star Game is rich in pageantry and symbolism of the modern Rome. The coliseum was Nationals Ballpark. Considering the faltering of their Nero on the world stage, it was perhaps apt that the feel-good extravaganza took place in the great city by the Potomac (the New World’s Rubicon … but enough with the allegories to Rome).


From the first pitch, it was clear this was going to be a great game. The National League’s starter, Max Scherzer, is a wily competitor. Two of the best hitters in the game, Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve, were outfoxed and struck out. Next to the plate was Mike Trout, a genuine superstar of the game in recent years (but playing second fiddle to Mookie this year on many metrics). One thing Trout does exceptionally well is work the count. He played Max beautifully and drew a walk. Next up, it was J D Martinez. “Jumbo Dong”, as he has been christened by one of my favourite pundits, is the home run leader and a major factor in the Red Sox having their best season to date in half a century. He took Scherzer’s signature first pitch fastball and despatched it to centre field. Two on with two out, what would come next? Jose Ramirez popped out gently but it was game on.


Chris Sale was the starter for the American League. I have had so many Red Sox players that I have loved over the years but this guy is special. When the Sox won the World Series in 2013 it was because the whole rotation did their bit. That is true again this year with Porcello, Price and Rodriguez posting great numbers, but Sale is without question the X factor. If they are to go all the way this year it just feels like they will get there on his back.


But back to the ASG. His first pitch was a centre field hit by Javier Baez. Thereafter, he got the 3 outs fairly comfortably and showed that distinctive class. As is the case with these games, Sale was done for the night but he can be satisfied with a great cameo.


Other great pitchers stepped up and did their bit too – de Grom, Nola and Vaazquez for the NL, Severino and Morton for the AL. However, it would prove to be a night for the sluggers. Every scoring shot bar one was a homer, ten in all. This is the most dingers in the 89 year history of the ASG. In the end, the AL all stars took the chocolates in the 10th, 8-6, after Scooter Gennett tied it in the bottom of the 9th.


The baseball season is longer than any professional sport by a country mile. It has natural highs and lows throughout the year. Fans hope for some relief from the torment of following their teams over such a marathon season and look to the ASG to reflect what they love about the game. Yesterday’s edition delivered in spades.


American exceptionalism can often be a distorted caricature but on this night in DC it was indeed exceptional and quite beautiful.





Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.

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