By any account, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was a bit of a snooze. Not only was it low scoring but it was very low action. The American League had 8 hits, which isn’t too bad, but the National League had all of five hits. The American League had no extra base hits and the National League had one double by Braves Ronald Acuna Jr. Three homeruns is kind of fun, but it only led to a 3-2 score and a ninth consecutive American League win. The National League scored right away in the first, the American League scored in the fourth, and that was it. Goose eggs for the rest of the game. The TV rating was the lowest ever at a 4.5. In 1980, it was 26.8.
However, the mic up’s were fun and definitely the best part of the game. Getting to talk to the catcher and pitcher in real-time was new and was probably the highlight of the game. New York Yankees catcher, Jose Trevino, even took the mic up to bat with him which is a daredevil move.
One thing is for sure, not only did the American League win the game, they won the personality contest as well. Apparently, the National League players are so boring, FOX didn’t even want to give them a microphone. The lone mic up from the National League was Max Fried, and, even then, he shared the stage with the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole. I can testify that Cubs outfielder Ian Happ can put on a show given an opportunity. But FOX didn’t give him a shot.
Here are the All-Star mic-ups ranked by entertainment value:
7. Julio Rodriguez
Rodriguez is a rookie All-Star with a mighty bat and he clearly has a personality. However, that personality needs to mature a little as he gains more confidence and gets out of his comfort zone. His bat exploded after April, which he credited to increased confidence. By the end of the season, this guy will be a lot of fun, but just not yet. To his credit, he did catch a ball while on the mic which doesn’t happen too often.
6. Aaron Judge/Giancarlo Stanton
It was a fun concept to have the left fielder and right fielder mic’d up at the same time and able to talk to each other, but the execution didn’t play out. In general, I think Judge is usually kind of a dud. So when his microphone actually glitched out, it didn’t really even matter. Stanton tried to carry the conversation, like he carried the entire AL team with his 2-run blast to tie the game. The conversation about what Judge and Stanton do during warmups to keep things light and where Stanton used to sit in Dodgers Stadium as a kid was kind of interesting, but other interviews blew them away.
5. Gerrit Cole/Max Fried
FOX had Cole and Fried talk to each other across the dugouts during an inning. Fried was so quiet you could barely hear him, so Cole stole the show. Cole was loud, high energy, and had great stories. But unlike most of the interviews, the booth (Jon Smoltz), finally asked a good question to break the ice. The discussion between Fried and Cole about the designated hitter and not hitting any longer was interesting and funny. Cole mentioned he has three home runs and Fried has a walk-off to his credit.
Fried said that he hated when, after finally getting the third out, the worst thing in the world is having to lead off the inning. Cole made fun of Fried for not having a complete game while he batted because he always got pinch hit for sooner than later. Cole also told a story of running from first to home on a triple and then having to get out on the mound right away, completely gassed after having to actually run 270 feet. Cole said, “I couldn’t compete.”
4. Liam Hendriks
Hendriks literally bounces off the walls. When mic’d up he is so high energy, it is hard to follow the game and what he is saying. He didn’t even wait for an interview question, he just started talking, he was so excited. You could also feel the tension in his voice when his first two pitches were out of the strike zone, falling behind 2-0. He got the fly out to Rodriguez, though. The ensuing begging by Hendriks to receive the ball from Rodriguez instead of letting him throw it into the crowd was a great time.
3. Jose Trevino
After being mic’d up while Nestor Cortes was pitching, Trevino didn’t take off the mic and brought it up to bat with him. The booth was clearly surprised, confused, and then elated that he was going to bat with the mic on. Smoltz asked him what he was looking for and he replied, “I can’t tell you that.” He followed that up with a muffled, “Slider!”. He chatted NL catcher, Travis d’Arnaud, up after his first take talking about what a great pitch it was. The real treat was that he actually got a hit down the right field line. He was so busy trying to talk to the audience and the booth, he forgot to go to second on an easy double.
2. Jose Trevino/Nestor Cortes
Trevino and Cortes quickly realized that the catcher can’t say the pitches, even with a glove over your mouth, with the batter standing a foot away. So, Cortes made the suggestions and Trevino gave a “Yes” or “No” and maybe a sly suggestion. Cortes’ reaction when he missed his spot a couple of times (usually the exact opposite of where it was supposed to go) was priceless. Cortes calls his quirky timing mix ups (which were ridiculously, fantastically exaggerated at the All-Star game) and let Trevino know that it was coming in sidearm. Unfortunately, Cortes missed badly on both those pitches and walked the batter. It was a happy end, with Cortes striking out two, and giving up 0 runs.
- Alek Manoah
Shane McClanahan started for the American League and quickly allowed the National League to get ahead. In walked Alek Manoah in the second inning, pitching to his Blue Jay catcher Alejandro Kirk, who he called Kirky on the mic. Manoah actually took requests from the booth on what they wanted to see him throw. Sometimes he acquiesced and sometimes he told them why that was a bad idea. “I am thinking slider, too, but if I execute a good heater up.” And when Smoltz asked for a back foot slider, Manoah promptly hit the batter on the back foot with a slider. Without being asked, he explained each of his pitches and why he was throwing them. “He has seen the sinker twice, so I am thinking something that stays true might cross him up a bit.” After a particularly wicked two-seam fastball, he yelled at the batter, “Don’t flinch.” After each strike out, he rounded the mound with, “Here we go, there is 1 (then 2 after the second strikeout)”. He seemed particular amazed at his velocity, “95, Wow”. And he finished the inning yelling, “Three punchies Let’s Go” as he struck out the side.