The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is an absurd concept. Imagine the best pitcher available in the league facing the best available batter in the other league. Then repeat that for a whole nine innings, and you've got the All-Star Game.
In addition, this year's contest was fundamentally different from past All-Star Game. Major League Baseball scrapped the All-Star Game's postseason consequences—World Series home field advantage will now be decided by whichever team owned the better record during the regular season—and so Fox and MLB were able to do whatever they wanted with the contest.
Mostly, that meant that the vast majority of All-Star rosters were installed into the game at some point. But removing the forced importance of the World Series home field advantage liberated the All-Star Game to be a pure exhibition, and as a result the game felt extraordinarily chill.
So chill the game was, in fact, that Nelson Cruz took his phone with him to the plate and asked Yadier Molina to take a picture of him and home plate umpire Joe West. Molina and West obliged. Cruz then plunked his phone into his back pocket like a packet of sunflower seeds and proceeded to take his plate appearance.
So chill the game was that Alex Rodriguez wandered around the infield between innings, interviewing Daniel Murphy, Zack Cozart, and Nolan Arenado whilst gleefully quipping that the walk from shortstop to third base reminded him of his career.
So chill the game was that Molina cosplayed as C-3PO.
So chill the game was that Joe Buck interviewed outfielders George Springer and Bryce Harper via earpiece while they were standing on the outfield grass between pitches. During the game. Harper nonchalantly asked Buck how he felt about Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
So chill the game was that Fox legitimately and cheekily ran a graphic titled 'Things Are Brewing' in regards to the Milwaukee Brewers' surprise first place position in the National League Central.
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MLB's best bet in making the All-Star Game a Thing again is giving a unique experience and unique access to a ridiculously talent-packed baseball extravaganza. MLB and Fox deserve credit for creating exactly what they attempted to do.
If you loved pitching, tonight's contest was for you. If you don't, then tonight's contest was a painful drag for eight and a half innings. The collection of aces and lockdown relievers did their work, allowing some singles but bearing down when they needed to and continually preventing legitimate scoring chances.
With two outs in the fifth inning, Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop doubled off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood. Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano blooped a pitch into the no-man's land between right field, second base, and first base, which a trio of Washington Nationals players could not reach. The lazily arcing ball gave Schoop enough time to score and make it 1-0, American League.
Then, in the sixth inning, Molina responded by cracking a solo home run to right field against Twins righty and former Kansas City Royal Ervin Santana. The game was thusly tied at 1-1.
The Royals themselves were mostly forgettable, which for an All-Star Game is generally a good thing. Jason Vargas tossed a scoreless fourth inning, a hilarious departure from the upper-90s strikeout artists surrounding him. Salvador Perez played half the game at catcher and went 0-2. Mike Moustakas was installed at third base in the seventh inning and almost smashed a home run in his first at bat, but the fly ball died at the warning track and was caught.
After Craig Kimbrel wormed his way out of the bottom of the ninth, an inning in which he could not find the strike zone and walked Molina to lead off the frame, National League and Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon turned to his own closer. That closer was former Royal Wade Davis, placed onto the mound to churn through the top of the tenth and give a loaded All-Star squad another chance at a walkoff.
But it turned out that the Cubs had not yet fully updated Davis' firmware, and the unintentional double agent cyborg, still thinking himself a member of the American League, hung a curveball to Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano to lead off the top of the tenth. Cano clobbered it into right field to give the American League a 2-1 lead, where the score would stand. Cleveland Indians fireman Andrew Miller closed out the game with the assistance of a nice diving catch from Detroit Tigers right fielder Justin Upton.
Robinson Cano won the All-Star MVP award due to his go-ahead, extra innings blast. It is Cano's first All-Star MVP award, coming in his seventh appearance in the summer classic.