The All-Star game marks the halfway point in the season. Honestly, for the past few years I had very little interest in the game. As a Yankee fan, this year I really looked forward to seeing Mariano Rivera pitch in his last All-Star game. I was also intrigued by the thought of the Mets young pitching phenom Matt Harvey facing one of the best hitting lineups ever in an All-Star game. I enjoyed the pregame ceremony when the People Magazine military heroes were honored and lined up on the first and third base foul lines where in past games the players would line up during their introductions. Harvey, after issuing a double to Trout on his first pitch and then hitting Cano on the side of his knee with a fastball, was untouchable striking out three in two innings. Yes, Harvey is the real deal and could be the next Tom Seaver for the Mets. Tom Seaver threw out the first ball to the Mets current franchise David Wright making it a Mets love fest at Citi Field. Pitching clearly dominated the game with the NL getting only three hits. But for me the highlight of the game was what happened in the top of the eighth inning. Mariano entered the game to his song Sandman.When he reached the mound only the umpires were on the field as all the AL players remained in the dugout. Fans, players, and media people clapped as one for this role model of what a professional baseball player should be. The AL won 3-0 and will have home field advantage in the World Series.
There were many player highlights in the first half of 2013. On the fielding side there were great leaping and diving catches in the outfield. But the fielding play that stands out in my mind as the best occurred against my Yankees. Third baseman Manny Machado stabbed at a ball hit behind third base by the Yankee’s Cruz and deflected it into foul territory. Reaching out with his bare hand he grabbed the rolling ball and in one motion threw it across his body to first base nipping Cruz. Maybe the Orioles have their next Brooks Robinson. As an on core the young Machado made two sparkling plays in the All-Star game. He can hit also and leads MLB with 39 doubles. The Orioles also are seeing the emergence of a new superstar in Chris Davis. Chris Davis is currently batting .315 with 37 home runs (tying the AL record for most HRs before an All-Star game) and 93 RBI. His power may stop Miguel Cabrera from repeating his Triple Crown. Cabrera is currently batting .362 with 30 home runs and 95 RBI. Cabrera’s 2013 numbers are far ahead of his Triple Crown pace of 2012. Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in MLB today. For the first time in All-Star history two players, Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera had 30+ home runs and 90+ RBIs before the All-Star game. The emergence of the Cuban import Yasiel Puig as a five tool player energized the floundering LA Dodgers, who are now a serious threat to win the NL West division. After only a little over a month in the big leagues, Puig is batting .391 with an OPS of .1038. Even though Puig is getting all the publicity, don’t overlook the return of Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers. His numbers in 39 games are amazing. He is batting .386. By the way his OPS of.1137 exceeds both Davis’ OPS of .1109 and Cabrera’s OPS of .1132. As the late Mel Allen, the original voice of the Yankees would say, “how about that.” Finally on May 21, the five tool player Mike Trout became the youngest player ever to hit for the cycle.
Moving on to pitching, the first half of 2013 produced two no-hitters. On July 2, Homer Bailey of Cincinnati pitched his second career no-hitter against Tim Lincecum of the Giants. He duplicated Nolan Ryan’s feat of throwing one no-hitter and then a second no-hitter before anyone else. Amazingly, 11 days later Tim Lincecum threw a no-hitter against the Padres. Surprisingly, Bailey has a 5-8 record and Lincecum has a 5-9 record in the first half.