The 10 best moments from the 2017 All-Star Game
Tuesday night saw the American League defeat the National League, 2-1, in the 88th Major League All-Star Game. With the best of the best coming together to play baseball, there was no doubt that the game would be special. But just as the All-Star Game elevates the best players from the other upper echelon of athletes, we have isolated 10 of the best moments from Tuesday's action:
1. Max Scherzer's max effort
If you ever thought that ballplayers don't care about the All-Star Game, Max Scherzer proved that belief wrong from the very outset. Before he even took the mound, he looked furious. He stomped and shouted like he had emerged to do battle to the death in the Coliseum:
Knowing that he would only be used for one inning, he dispensed with any idea of saving himself. Every pitch was max effort and his mighty grunts could be heard all across this great land as he struck out Aaron Judge and George Springer to complete his scoreless frame.
2. Terry Francona makes a very important "appearance"
Francona is perhaps the funniest and most likable Major League manager in the game. So, his absence was a tremendous loss for both the American League and the fans as he recuperated at home following a heart procedure. Fortunately, Indians bench coach and acting manager Brad Mills made sure that Francona got to bring a very special message to the clubhouse:
3. Bryce Harper's grab and All-Star hair flip
With two out and a runner on in the top of the second, Salvador Perez hit a liner to the right-center field gap that could have opened the scoring. But Bryce Harper had different ideas as he raced in and made a falling catch. Perhaps knowing that the cameras were carefully trained on him in the national spotlight, he punctuated the grab with an All-Star hair flip, too.
4. Mookie Betts' strong throw
With the quality of pitching on display, the two teams seemed to realize pretty early on that runs would be at a premium. So, in the bottom of the first inning, Nolan Arenado decided to tag up on a deep fly ball hit to Mookie Betts. Only problem: Betts can do literally anything (that includes flying a plane). Rather than a runner at second with one out, there were two down and no one on as Betts' throw was a laser-beam directly to the bag.
In an alternate reality, perhaps Arenado makes it to second and the entire game changes from there.
5. Miguel Sano breaks the scoreless tie
2017 is the year of the dinger. So, naturally, it was the runner-up in the Home Run Derby who got a pop fly to drop in just inside the right-field line as Harper and his flowing locks couldn't come up with it.
6. The fun
Yes, the players took it seriously, but just like when you play a pickup game, you're there to have fun, too. Before Francisco Lindor's at-bat, he took a minute out to hug the golden robot behind home plate. And then, when Nelson Cruz came to the plate, he needed a photo with Joe West. Best of all: Molina appeared to need help getting the camera open -- just like every passerby you ask while visiting Disney World.
He then took a mighty crack against Zack Greinke's offering and it went high, deep and ... landed right before the warning track. But can you imagine if it went out?
7. Yadier Molina is all style
But Molina wasn't merely a prop in Cruz's photo. Beyond wearing the shiniest catching gear you may ever see, he used his sixth-inning at-bat to tie the game with a solo homer. Racing the bases with a wide smile on his face -- having to avoid Lindor along the way -- he then reached the dugout and did his own version of the Harper hair flip. Yes, the story of 2017 is the hair flip.
8. Wind energy
If you are a fan of pitching -- or just want your own Little League career to be represented by big league batters -- then this was the All-Star Game for you. 23 batters struck out -- good for 38 percent of the outs recorded. The strikeouts themselves were plenty beautiful, too.
After getting Giancarlo Stanton to come up empty against a 100-mph fastball, Betances returned to bury an 88-mph slider that he could only wave at:
Chris Devenski pulled the string on Joey Votto:
And Kenley Jansen threw yet another cutter to set down Avisail Garcia and keep the game knotted at one:
9. Robinson Cano goes deep in extra innings
With a smaller roster in this year's All-Star game, there were surely some nervous people as the game went to extra innings. In his eighth All-Star Game, Cano went deep to break the tie and give the American League the lead, earning him MVP honors. It shouldn't be a surprise. After all, Cano won the 2011 Home Run Derby, so he's used to going deep when he's needed.
10. 10th-inning defense
When Andrew Miller came on to face a series of left-handed batters, most fans probably figured things were going to be wrapped up with ease. Miller did finish it off, but he needed a little help from his American League friends. Justin Upton raced to close down Corey Seager's liner that was searching for outfield dirt and then Lindor ranged up the middle to take a base hit away from Ender Inciarte. Rather than runners on the corners (at the very least), there were now two outs and no one on.
Without the glovework, perhaps we're still watching the All-Star Game at this very minute. Which, actually, sounds pretty great. Thanks for nothing, guys.