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MLB All-Star Game 2018

It was about 4:50pm, I had just parked my car in the WMATA Metro parking garage and started walking to the Metro Entrance.  The regular stampede of 9 to 5ers hurriedly scattered out of the metro station as they do on any other Tuesday in Washington.  An older man, probably between 60 and 70 years old passed me with his Nationals’ hat and yellow poncho in his back pocket, wisely anticipating possible thunderstorms.  Down the steps I went to the metro platform. I looked up, it was 2 minutes wait until the Orange Line to New Carrollton to arrive. The anticipation was building…

2 minutes seemed more like 10 minutes on this extra hot and humid Washington evening.  As I got on the next metro train to arrive, a father and his young son, wearing their Nationals’ jerseys and hats greeted me, or rather looked at me with less than welcoming eyes, as they glanced at my Cooperstown Cal Ripken Jr. Jersey and Orioles hat. The two stalwarts of baseball in the area were the sole representatives of Major League Baseball, at least for the moment, on the metro car.

At each stop, fans representing the Phillies, Astros, Cubs and the Dominican National Team slowly began to fill the train. As we got off the train to transfer to another Metro line, we were greeted by more fans representing the Giants, Yankees, and Dodgers.  The hometown fans, despite varied criticisms and talks of a Stanley Cup hangover, were out in force. Bryce Harper jerseys being the most visible on the backs of the young, middle aged and old. Followed by handfuls of the Yankee’s Aaron Judge Jersey’s.

Even though I’ve lived in Washington my entire life and had taken the metro all weekend to work at MLB Fanfest, I still managed to get on the wrong Metro car.  Luckily, a nice gentleman asked us if we were going to the game and directed us to get off at the next station. He was wearing an orange dress shirt, so I can only presume he shared an affinity for the orioles. *shrugs* Back on track, we make it to the Navy Yard around 6pm.  There’s a festive feel at the station as everyone is dressed for a baseball game and all the signage and advertisements are All-Star Game centric.

We made our way up the escalator, to street level, and began the couple blocks walk to Nationals’ Park main gate.  Every Single bar, restaurant, and hotel lobby was packed with people. In true Washington fashion we were met with a political protest and a man handing out pamphlets for the cause.  In the distance, you could hear other activists on loud speakers with their message about –insert cause here. Welcome to Washington. The mood and atmosphere, however, remained upbeat.  

After taking the obligatory couple selfie, in front of the National Park sign, we stumbled upon Fox Sports TV set beyond Center Field. AROD, David Ortiz and Frank Thomas interacted with the crowd while they waited to go on air.  Even in later stages of their life, David Ortiz and Frank Thomas were larger than life. Like any once $300M man, AROD remained dapper.

Someone behind me asks where Manny Machado is going.  One guy says the Phillies, another guy mentions the Yankees.  I’m sitting here asking myself: has nobody gotten the recent update saying the Dodgers were the front runner?  That is what happens when you offer your organizations No. 1 prospect with a few other pieces. It’s close to 730 at this point.

The player introductions begin.  Former Nationals’ Blake Treinen (Athletics), and Wilson Ramos (Rays) receive a rousing round of applause along with the current crop of Nationals.  Many Orioles Fans stood and applauded Manny Machado in what was to be his last game in an Orioles Jersey. Dodgers fans also clapped pointing out Manny’s blue hat indicating he won’t be an Oriole after this game.  Since the first time All-Star had spent most of his career in Baltimore, Nick Markakis also received a rather significant round of applause from both Braves and Orioles fans. Everyone that wasn’t cheering for the Yankees seemed to boo the Yankees.   Yankees fans booed the Red Sox players. Yankees and Nationals fans booed the Mets. There was a lot of historical loathing being thrown around despite the fact that this exhibition has Yankees, Red Sox, Nationals and Mets players on the same team.

Major League Baseball and the Nationals made this event an homage to the Veterans, past and present, and to America as a whole. Children in red, white and blow gowns formed the American Flag in the Outfield, as Medal of Honor recipients gathered in the Infield.  A heartfelt video narrated by Bradley Cooper highlighted all of this. The players went around and graciously shook the hands of all the vets. Bryce Harper ceremoniously signed a ball for a representative of the entire group—a cross section representation of America and the military: young, old, disabled, wounded, Lieutenants, Captains, Majors, Colonels, Generals, Admirals.  There was also a reunion of an active duty veteran and his family behind home plate. Topped off by an USAF flyover.

Home runs, home runs, home runs! This All-Star Game broke a record for the most home runs.  Aaron Judge got it started with a blast off Max Scherzer in the 1st.  Yankees fans went crazy! Even a few Orioles fans joined them, while others were confused or just simply booed.  The nuances of an All-Star Game…some people were still trying to figure it out.

You could see the hard push to appeal to the next generation of baseball fans in a bunch of different areas.  There was an LED DJ booth on top of the Red Porch, a bar in the Outfield at Nationals Park. Two young kids opened the game with the ceremonial “play ball” announcement. Each batter had a simulated introduction which featured his likeness from the “MLB the Show 18” video game.  Later in the game there was even a kid PA announcer, who performed admirably.

More home runs! Mike Trout teed off on Jacob De Grom in the Top of the 3rd with a solo homerun to Left Field. 2-0 AL.

Even an NFL presence could be seen.  There was a guy wearing a Fouts Jersey, and a Redskins fan proudly showing off his jersey on the big screen.  The current, most popular American sport, at the Midsummer Classic.

More homeruns…Wilson Contrearas hits a solo homerun to Left Field in the bottom of the 3rd. 1 to 2 American League.

Then, there were more reminders for the Orioles fans that the Manny Machado era was ending in Baltimore as the Dodgers started a Dodgers cheer in the Top of the 4th as Manny Machado came up.  Machado popped up to 3rd base, no runs or hits for the American League this inning.  

Most in the audience, including players and media, held up placards with the names of those affected by cancer during a touching tribute to Cancer victims, survivors and those currently battling the disease.

We noticed the pilots who did the pre-game fly over sitting in the Upper Deck in section 230.  Two rows of airmen in their green flight suits were hard to miss. They should have been given a pass to a luxury box or suite.  Maybe Major League Baseball had tried to give them a box and were turned down by the airmen. Either way, I just hope they weren’t paying for beers. Regardless, they seemed to be enjoying themselves from the looks on their faces.

More home runs! A 3 run shot by Jean Segura in the Top of the 8th off the local product Josh Hader as the American League took a 5-2 lead.  

Another homerun! Christian Yelich homers to deep left in the bottom of the 8th.  

We currently stand at 6 total homeruns at the top of the 9th, tying the MLB record in an All-Star Game.  

Another homerun in the bottom of the 9th to tie it up, 7 in the game now! and a new MLB record.  Jesus Aguilar is up to bat trying to win it for the National League.  He hits it deep to Center Field. Deep, deeper and while the crowd is going wild… it turns out to just be a deep fly ball out.

We are going to the 10th inning? Huh? Seriously?

Alex Bergman up to the plate, home run!

George Springer up to bat next. Another home run!

Back to back home runs by the American League. Is someone throwing meat balls and wants to go home? I always feel as though professional players are always going to try their hardest to win no matter the stakes, but there are instances where this hasn’t been true. This last hit makes it 9 home runs in an All-Star Game.  A new record. Did the National League really stop playing? Do they want to go home?

The mostly Nationals Fan dominated crowd boos, as another run comes in for the American League off a sacrifice fly to left field. 8-5 American League extends the lead.

Maybe not? Joey Votto leads off the bottom of the 10th with a homerun, 8-6 National League. I hope they don’t have to change ASG rules again.  Extra innings in an exhibition seems exactly like what club managers don’t want.

That’s a wrap, 3 hours and 34 minutes later the American League wins 8-6.  What a game.

We walked down to the 1B line as MLB Network was building their TV set. With a click of a button the roof popped open on the set like a convertible top on a Mercedez Benz.  Representatives from Chevy position a new car and truck in the middle of the field for the All-Star Game MVP to select. As we are waiting, we see what appears to be a family, all in Christian Yelich Jerseys heading closer to the field.  Across the way, Christian Yelich was hanging outside the dugout, on the field, waiting for an interview, talking to a Nationals Park employee. Just chatting it up, nonchalantly. Reminiscent of kids meeting up with their parents to receive congratulatory embraces, Yelich walked towards the family sporting his jersey after he finished with the Nationals employee.  

As we make our way out of the park, I notice a man in a bright orange jersey.  It wasn’t an Orioles jersey, it was a Marlins jersey: it was the Marlins Man! I quietly explain to my girlfriend who he is as we make our way up to him.  I approached him, asked if he would take a picture with me and he obliged. Unsolicited he asked me my thoughts on Manny Machado and the Orioles. We talk for a minute then go our separate ways.  

About an hour later, I was back at my car.  It was 1:30am, a man and his daughter, in their baseball attire, waved in acknowledgement to a fellow baseball fan in the early parts of a new day.

 

~Joel

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