The 2014 All-Star Game wasn't the greatest edition of the Midsummer Classic, but it delivered in almost every respect.
The American League beat the National League 5-3 and earned home-field advantage in the World Series and presumably control of Greek Council (or some other reward that makes the game matter). Major League Baseball has tried to make the All-Star Game a meaningful pursuit, but it remains a glorified exhibition game.
The night wasn't without its enjoyable moments, though.
Derek Jeter's Retiring, You Know
All of this Derek Jeter stuff is getting a bit tedious. But if anybody deserves a send-off like this, it's No. 2. He's one of the best shortstops to ever play the game, and you want to see the legends getting handled right on the way out.
Jeter had a nice ovation to start the game and then managed to lead off the bottom of the first with a double. He singled in his next at-bat to finish the game 2-for-2, thus finishing with a career .481 batting average in the Midsummer Classic, good for second all-time, per SportsCenter:
John Farrell's decision to bring Jeter out in the top of the fourth allowed the 40-year-old to bask in the glory of one more All-Star Game appearance.
As Mike Matheny said after the game, Tuesday night was what the legend deserved, per MLB:
“I think the people here in Minneapolis and fans all over the world showed the kind of respect that he deserves.” – Matheny on Jeter. #ASG— #ASG (@MLB) July 16, 2014
Mike Trout. Full Stop.
Don't ever change, Mike Trout.
Baseball Prospectus' Sam Miller put it best on Twitter. Trout is already one of the most talented baseball players ever. The only drama left is how his career unfolds:
Time will not tell if Mike Trout is one of the best players ever. Time will tell if he has one of the best careers ever.— Sam Miller (@SamMillerBP) July 16, 2014
The 22-year-old took home MVP honors after going 2-for-3 with two runs batted in, per MLB. His triple in the bottom of the first inning plated Derek Jeter for the first run of the game and set the stage for a fun All-Star Game:
Trout is one of the most entertaining players to watch in the major leagues. The five-tool player is more and more becoming a rarity, but Trout is working with a full toolbox.
Also, some made this All-Star Game a passing of the torch from Jeter to Trout. With all due respect to the New York Yankees shortstop, Trout is already better than the Yankees star ever was:
Mike Trout didn’t take Jeter’s torch. He took Barry Bonds’s torch.— ihateprospects (@ihateprospects) July 16, 2014
Freddie Freeman Makes Men Everywhere Cringe
Figuring out the more impressive part of this play is kinda tough.
Dee Gordon covers a ton of ground effortlessly then quickly pops to his feet and throws out Michael Brantley with a ton of time. Brantley's stolen 10 bases this year, so he's no slowpoke. Gordon made a tough grounder look routine.
Then there's Freddie Freeman. For most guys, that's easily a torn groin and months of rehab. Freeman, on the other hand, does the splits and acts like it's no big deal. It's as if he stays in that position just to bask in the moment.
Instead of picking a winner, we'll go ahead and salute both guys. Good job and good effort, you two.
Glen Perkins Finishes It at Home
This All-Star Game was really all about Glen Perkins, wasn't it? Thank goodness he had his moment.
Fans have probably already forgotten that the Minnesota Twins closer finished the game, becoming only the third pitcher to save the game at his home stadium in All-Star Game history, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Glen Perkins: 3rd pitcher to get an All-Star Game save in his home ballpark, joining Mickey Lolich (1971) and Kaz Sasaki (2001) (via ELIAS)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 16, 2014
The event is partly about entertaining the fans, which is why one player from every team is involved. Kurt Suzuki didn't really do all that much, so without Perkins, the home crowd wouldn't have had a lot to cheer for.
In the end, Twins fans watched on as their All-Star closer got Miguel Montero to fly out, struck out Josh Harrison and forced Charlie Blackmon into a groundout, preserving the AL's 5-3 win.