Los Angeles Times

Longtime dreams come true at MLB All-Star Game


we got to watch Albert get an at-bat and be with him the whole last couple of days was cool.”

Putting a camera on plate umpire Bill Miller and equipping Toronto pitcher Alek Manoah and New York Yankees catcher Jose Trevino with microphone­s were terrific uses of technology. Manoah managed to strike out the side in the second inning while chatting with Fox announcers Joe Davis and John Smoltz.

Trevino said aloud, “I can’t believe I’m an All-Star, man,” before he reached base and continued the conversati­on, at one point asking the first base coach whether he was supposed to run with two out. Insights from players humanize them and keep fans engaged.

The game was a reminder, too, that even in a cynical world it’s worthwhile to dream big because sometimes those dreams come true.

Stanton, who started in left field and was voted the game’s most valuable player, was All-Southern Section in football, baseball and basketball at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High. As a kid he’d often make the trip to Dodger Stadium to watch batting practice, chasing foul balls and begging whomever was playing left field to throw a ball to him. “I’m like 30 minutes with no traffic, but we all know L.A. That’s two hours,” he said of the distance to his childhood home.

His favorites were Raul Mondesi, Mike Piazza and Hideo Nomo. But he liked to watch the “big bops,” his name for Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. “Even for two at-bats, just try to drive down here, get a ticket off the street and come try to see what they can do in two at-bats,” Stanton said.

“All of that wraps around in full circle when I’m out there.”

AL manager Dusty Baker’s dream of playing in an All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium was long delayed but not denied. He was having a strong season when the game was held here in 1980 but six other Dodgers were selected ahead of him. The hurt he carried all those years ached a little less Tuesday.

“Nothing makes up for playing,” he said, “but I tell you, it was fun sitting in the dugout and seeing the guys, how together they were, especially when everybody knew that we were getting together for a couple of days as a team, and now we go our own direction.”

There’s no perfect format for All-Star Games, and what used to be a strong tradition has faded in relevance across profession­al sports.

The Pro Bowl, traditiona­lly held the week before the Super Bowl, reportedly might vanish altogether, a victim of repeated pullouts by star players and format staleness. Defense is little more than a rumor in the NBA’s All-Star competitio­n: Last season’s game featured Team LeBron earning a 163-160 victory over Team Durant. NHL All-Star contests long ago became no-hitters, and removing the physicalit­y also removed much of the game’s appeal. The NHL most recently created a division-based format that features teams facing off in a three-on-three mini tournament and playing for a $1-million prize. That increased the intensity, but it’s still not ideal. It’s kind of hockey but kind of not.

Major League Baseball did a lot of things right Tuesday. It also got lucky because of a superb location, the emergence of new personalit­ies, and the promise of a repeat of those Dodgers-Yankees matchups a few months from now, when more than league pride will be at stake.

“On paper, it’s lined up that way for a few years, so now both sides need to take care of business and get it done,” Stanton said.

The Dodgers and Yankees have their assignment­s: Get it done. So does Major League Baseball: Keep the All-Star Game fun and interestin­g next year, and beyond.

 ?? Wally Skalij Los Angeles Times ?? MAGIC JOHNSON greets AL manager Dusty Baker, left, and coach Gary Pettis.
Wally Skalij Los Angeles Times MAGIC JOHNSON greets AL manager Dusty Baker, left, and coach Gary Pettis.

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