Kids are alright
Trout, Harper, Cole, fresh All-Stars highlight the changing face of the game
Not too long ago, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Gerrit Cole were the ones picking up the extra balls and getting pranked into paying the pricey checks.
Now, along with the likes of Kris Bryant, Matt Harvey and many others, they’ve become the face of the All-Star Game and the future of the major leagues.
“The Derek Jeter generation in the last few years came to the end of their careers. We have a great new crop of young players,” new Commissioner Rob Manfred said.
This is an age when The Kids are All Right — a record 20 of the 76 All-Stars for Tuesday night’s game are 25 or younger, according to STATS.
“I think the young talent in baseball is better than it’s been in years,” said Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, one of the older All-Stars at 35. “These are exciting players, players that kids can look up to.”
His former teammates — baseball royalty, in the form of Mariano Rivera and Jeter — are gone.
The brash bats who rule the new era belong to Giancarlo Stanton, Yasiel Puig and Manny Machado, trying to solve bold arms led by Chris Archer, Cole and Harvey.
Major League Baseball, which often relies on the nostalgia of its 19th-century roots, is striving to connect with 21st-century youth more familiar with Reddit and Tinder than Josh Reddick and Branden Pinder.
“We’re working very hard to give our fans the kind of access to those players and others in order to raise their awareness of these players,” Manfred said. “We do realize we have a challenge in that regard because of what I characterize as generational change.”
How different it was in 2011, when Trout was 19 and arrived at his first big league camp. Some Los Angeles Angels veterans invited him to dinner Mastro’s City Hall Steakhouse in Scottsdale, Arizona. A waiter brought the check, which came to $1,800, and ace pitcher Jeff Weaver handed it to Trout and told him the bill was his to pay.
When Trout arrived at Tempe Diablo Stadium a few days later, he found a toy truck in front of his locker. Inside were 7,200 quarters. And Weaver punked the newbie outfielder later in spring training with a message on the right-field scoreboard, urging fans to call “Mike Trout directly with your baseball questions” during an exhibition game — with his actual cellphone number, of course.
At 23, Bryant looks more high school student than big-time ballplayer. Face of the game? He doesn’t think so.
“It is pretty cool to be mentioned in the same sentence as those guys,” he said.
National League’s Kris Bryant, of the Chicago Cubs, during batting practice Monday for the MLB All-Star game in Cincinnati.