Youth rules, no strings attached
MIAMI — This time it doesn’t count.
That is, unless you’re a millionaire ballplayer motivated by the allure of an extra $20,000.
Major League Baseball scrapped using the AllStar Game to determine home- field advantage in the World Series after doing so for 14 years.
So today’s 88th Midsummer Classic at Marlins Park, the first in South Florida, is back to being an exhibition.
And that’s fine with National League Manager Joe Maddon.
Maddon, who managed the AL in 2009, said the change back to the game being played as an exhibition will alter his approach.
“Under these circumstances I’m attempting to choreograph it in advance
who is going to play when, position players as well as pitchers,” said Maddon, who guided the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years last season. “Of course, the object is always to really to win the game and get that National League pride going regarding winning for the sake of winning, which is a wonderful method.
“But entirely different thought process for me coming into this game than the last one. I’m pleased with it.”
The National League starting lineup includes two members of the host 41-46 Miami Marlins, the third-place team from the NL East.
Marcell Ozuna, voted in by fans, will be in left field batting eighth for the National League. Giancarlo Stanton, selected as a reserve, was Maddon’s choice as designated hitter and will bat second.
“It’s going to be cool to be announced in the starting lineup here at home, and I’m looking forward to it,” said Stanton, a four-time All-Star but unable to play in two of the years he was selected due to injury. He was also the starting DH in 2014 at Minnesota.
Stanton, who was knocked out in the first round of Monday night’s Home Run Derby, losing to Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, said he is glad that the All-Star Game winner won’t factor into the World Series seeding (that will go to the team with the best regular-season record), saying the objective should be “have fun, have a good time with the fans.”
Members of the winning team will collect $ 20,000 apiece, something that hasn’t been done before.
The game will provide a showcase of MLB’s impressive influx of young talent rapidly ascending to All-Star level. There are 12 first-time All-Stars, the most since 1970.
The rosters include 33 players age 27 or younger.
Most notable will be the debuts of home run-hammering upstarts Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees and Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Rookie of the Year front-runners in their respective leagues.
Judge, 25, the top All-Star vote-getter in the American League, leads the majors with 30 home runs, many of them moonshots at Yankee Stadium. Bellinger, the youngest in the game at 21, hit 25 home runs in 257 at-bats since being summoned to the majors in late April.
“I think when young guys get called up you kind of see the success that the guys had in the past,” Bellinger said Monday. “Watching them, it makes you want to be even
One young face notably missing is Jose Fernandez, the Marlins ace killed in a boat crash in September, two months after making his second All-Star appearance. He could have been a popular choice to start in the ballpark he dominated in his brief career.
The start for the NL goes to Max Scherzer, the Nationals’ reigning Cy Young Award winner. Scherzer becomes the fifth pitcher to start All-Star games in both leagues (2013).
Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale starts for the American League. Sale is one of nine AllStars who played for Florida high schools, the most of any state.
Judge was a prime magnet of attention during Monday’s media session. Other first-time stars in the starting lineup are Justin Smoak (Blue Jays), Carlos Correa ( Astros), Jose Ramirez (Indians), George Springer ( Astros), Corey Dickerson (Rays) and Zack Cozart (Reds).
“I think what we’re most excited about is just the depth we have among young great players,” said Tony Petitti, chief operating officer of MLB. “It’s probably never been rivaled in the game. We feel really good about what we’re seeing with young players.”
The emergence of so much young talent in the majors has brought considerable turnover in recent All-Star Games. Kris Bryant, the NL Most Valuable Player last season at age 24, didn’t make the team this year.