In a perfect world, Major League Baseball's All-Star week would always look like the 2014 version. It started on Sunday with Joey Gallo showing the world why his power is so lauded, then culminated on Tuesday with a fantastic sendoff for Derek Jeter and more proof Mike Trout isn't human.
Oh, in case you were interested, the American League did defeat the National League, 5-3, but the result almost seems like an afterthought because of the spectacle at Target Field. Even though the game did give the junior circuit home-field advantage in the World Series, no one will remember that aspect when talking about this All-Star Game in the future.
Thanks to the memorable nature of the 2014 Midsummer Classic, we need to discuss the top storylines from the game. Before we get ahead of ourselves, here's a look at the box score from Tuesday's matchup.
|Andrew McCutchen, CF||1-3||0||0||0-0|
|-Charlie Blackmon, CF||0-2||0||0||1-0|
|Yasiel Puig, RF||0-3||0||0||3-0|
|-Hunter Pence, RF||0-1||0||0||0-0|
|Troy Tulowitzki, SS||1-3||0||0||1-0|
|-Starlin Castro, SS||0-1||0||0||1-0|
|Paul Goldschmidt, 1B||0-3||0||0||1-0|
|-Freddie Freeman, 1B||1-1||0||0||0-0|
|Giancarlo Stanton, DH||0-3||0||0||1-0|
|-Anthony Rizzo, DH||0-1||0||0||1-0|
|Aramis Ramirez, 3B||2-3||0||1||0-0|
|-Todd Frazier, 3B||0-0||0||0||0-1|
|Chase Utley, 2B||1-1||1||1||0-0|
|-Dee Gordon, 2B||0-1||0||1||0-0|
|--Daniel Murphy, 2B||0-1||0||0||1-0|
|Jonathan Lucroy, C||2-2||2||0||0-0|
|-Devin Mesoraco, C||0-1||0||0||1-0|
|--Miguel Montero, C||0-1||0||0||0-0|
|Carlos Gomez, LF||0-2||0||0||1-0|
|-Josh Harrison, LF||0-2||0||0||1-0|
|Derek Jeter, SS||2-2||0||1||0-0|
|-Alexei Ramirez, SS||1-2||0||1||0-0|
|--Erick Aybar, SS||0-0||0||0||0-0|
|Mike Trout, LF||2-3||2||1||0-0|
|-Brandon Moss, RF||0-1||0||0||1-0|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||0-2||0||0||2-0|
|-Jose Altuve, 2B||0-0||1||0||0-0|
|--Ian Kinsler, 2B||0-1||0||0||1-0|
|Miguel Cabrera, 1B||1-3||2||1||0-0|
|-Jose Abreu, 1B||0-1||0||0||0-0|
|Jose Bautista, RF||0-2||0||0||1-0|
|-Yoenis Cespedes, LF||0-2||0||0||0-0|
|Nelson Cruz, DH||0-2||0||0||1-0|
|-Kyle Seager, DH||0-2||0||0||0-0|
|Adam Jones, CF||0-2||0||0||1-0|
|-Adrian Beltre, 3B||0-0||0||0||0-1|
|Josh Donaldson, 3B||0-2||0||0||1-0|
|-Michael Brantley, CF||0-1||0||0||0-0|
|Salvador Perez, C||0-1||0||0||0-0|
|-Derek Norris, C||1-2||0||1||1-0|
|--Kurt Suzuki, C||0-0||0||0||0-0|
Derek Jeter Goes Out in the Most Derek Jeter Way
Fans and analysts who follow stats closely have long scoffed at the notion Jeter is a good defensive shortstop. There have been single seasons where he's rated above average, but overall, New York's captain has cost his team more runs in the field than saved by FanGraphs.com metrics.
It was only fitting, then, that the first play of the game was a smash off the bat of Andrew McCutchen to Jeter's left. The Yankees superstar went into a full-extension dive, grabbed the ball and came within an eyelash of getting the speedy Cutch at first base.
There's never been any question about Jeter's bat. He's built a Hall of Fame resume going to the opposite field, so how appropriate that his two hits went to right.
We can debate forever whether Adam Wainwright "grooved" a pitch for Jeter's first hit, a double, to give him a proper sendoff. The St. Louis starter told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports that he wanted to give him something hittable.
Waino: “I was gonna give him a couple pipe shots. He deserved it. I didn’t know he was gonna hit a double or I might have changed my mind.”— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 16, 2014
Wainwright tried to backtrack during an in-game interview with Erin Andrews, via Drew Silva of HardballTalk.com, claiming he wasn't giving anyone anything:
I’m very competitive. I think I said yesterday that I didn’t want Derek Jeter to get a hit. I think I said it today, even, before I pitched. So I don’t know. It’s a distraction and I do not want to be a distraction. I wanted it to be all for Derek. If anything is taking away from his moment then I sincerely apologize. At no point in my career have I gone out and intentionally given up hits.
At this point, who cares whether the pitches were right there? Did anyone raise their arms and cry foul when Chan Ho Park gave Cal Ripken a batting-practice fastball down the middle of the plate in 2001?
All that matters is Jeter got his big moment on the All-Star stage and took advantage of it the same way he has throughout his career.
The Symbolic Passing of the Torch
What will you remember most from the 2014 All-Star Game?
Similar to Jeter's opposite-field hits, how appropriate was it that during his final All-Star game, Mike Trout was named MVP of the game?
The Los Angeles Angels superstar has been the best player in baseball since 2012, should have two AL MVP trophies on his mantle already and continues to defy all expectations by getting better every year, including a .310/.400/.606 line in 2014.
This All-Star game was a microcosm of everything Trout does well on a baseball field. He tripled off the wall following Jeter's leadoff double, had an RBI double in the fifth and made a few nice plays in the outfield.
Trout's performance with the bat was one for the record books, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info on Twitter:
Mike Trout - 2nd player in All-Star Game history with 3B, 2B and 2+ RBI, joining Earl Averill of the 1934 Indians— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 16, 2014
If there's any justice in the baseball world, which isn't often the case with the Baseball Writers' Association, it won't be the only MVP award Trout wins this season.
At the very least, Jeter knows that he's walking away from the sport and leaving it in Trout's very capable hands to lead the next generation of superstars.
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