My baseball loving cousin was born in 1997. Now, for the first time in his Cubs loving life, he can say he saw the National League win the All-Star game.
The win didn't come easy for the NL. It took the things that so many apply to National League baseball. Namely: great pitching, alert fielding, and timely hitting.
Among the gaggle of ultra-talented players there were ten All-Stars who shined brighter than the others.
Not all of them played for the winning side, but they all stood out as All-Stars among All-Stars
Continuing to rebound from last season, David Wright went 2-2 on only 3 pitches!
The third baseman from the Mets might not be the most heralded guy at his position in the Big Apple, but on this night, in this game, he stood out.
Maybe it's the game itself? Wright now has a hit in five consecutive All-Stars games.
The combination of power, speed, and fielding that Wright possesses and displayed on Tuesday night in Anaheim were impressive even when compared to his All-Star peers.
There are guys who throw 98 MPH and look like it takes all of their effort to do it.
Then there are guys like Josh Johnson who do it with ease.
By now baseball fans should be familiar with Johnson, he has nine wins at the break and the best ERA in the NL....yes even better than Ubaldo. Not to mention the 15 wins and sub-3.50 ERA he sported last season.
In Tuesday's game, Johnson made all six of the AL hitters he faced all look like they should be wearing Astros uniforms.
He retired the six AL batters on just 29 pitches. These are All-Stars we're talking about and Johnson breezed through them.
There's no doubt that Ubaldo deserved to start the game, but there's also no question of who the best NL pitcher was - Mr. Johnson.
4 and 2/3 innings, 1 hit, 1 walk, and 6 K's 0 ER.
These are the combined numbers of the six closers that pitched in the All-Star game.
Impressive? You better believe it.
If the general consensus around the league right now is that pitching is winning the battle over hitting, then among pitchers the closers are setting the tone.
Sure, the closers that pitched last night all displayed similar arsenals. A large helping of HEAT, with a side order of devastating off speed pitches. But their similar styles do nothing to downplay how impressive they are.
Take Jose Valverde for example. He's had an unbelievable first half of the year for the Tigers. He has 19 saves, 0.82 WHIP and a 0.92 ERA. That's right zero-point-nine-two!
Valverde backed up those regular season number by posting a line of 1 IP, 0 H, and striking out three All-star's. Wowza.
Starting pitchers get much of the acclaim during the year, but at this year's ASG it was the closers who stood out.
Oh to be young and uber-talented.
That's the life of Evan Longoria.
While sure, he has to deal with getting his hat stolen, he makes up for it by mashing the ball and still being a plus defender.
In this year's ASG Longoria went 1-1 with one walk and a run scored. Not bad for a guy who is in just his third major league season.
Longoria's sweet swing and ability to take the ball to the opposite field are impressive enough. But his patience as a young hitter is just as impressive.
That was on full display last night as he saw 11 ptches in just two AB's and drew a walk off of a guy who has only issued eight free passes all year! (Hong-Chih Kuo)
Longoria has all the tools any third baseman could want, and he displayed them all last night.
You think Charlie Manuel doesn't know how important the All-star game is?
He's managed the Phillies to the World Series both of the last two seasons and yet because of the National League's failures in the ASG he's goie into those two World Series match ups at a disadvantage.
That's probably why he gave an impassioned speech before last nights game.
"I don't think I can say exactly what he said," Charlie Manuel's hitting coach, Milt Thompson, reported afterward. "It was all about kicking somebody's butt, though."
"He was very genuine and motivational," Rolen said of his manager for a day. "In his way, he kept it light, and he kept it honest, and he got some guys laughing. And it was a good feel. There were no TV cameras in the room. It wasn't for show. You know, it was him talking to guys and just saying what he felt."
Genuine. Honest. Motivational.
In a battle of young vs old, Yankees vs Phillies, Girardi vs Manuel, it was Charlie who was the obvious All-Star.
Often with the ASG we as fans focus only on the players, but the NL couldn't have snapped it's historic ASG slump with the managing and motivational talents of Charlie Manuel.