Mike Trout

Mike Matheny

Here’s an idea for a new and fun tweak to the All-Star Game


source: Getty Images

Everyone has an “improve the All-Star Game” idea. I have a bunch. Most of them, however, tend to deal with roster construction or player use patterns. Here’s an idea from one of my readers — Ian Neilly — that may not have any immediate change on the game itself but which (a) adds an element of drama and P.R. opportunities in the runup to the game; and (b) in the long run may bring about some sort of change in how the game is approached.

The idea: instead of making the previous year’s pennant-winners the managers, put the manager of the teams with the best first half record in charge. Here’s Ian’s rationale:

1. With the game determining home field advantage in the World Series, there would be more incentive for the manager of a team with the best record in the AL or NL to approach the game as more of a real game, or a playoff game, and less of an exhibition game (e.g., in 2014, Boston was out of the pennant race at the break, so there was less personal incentive for the AL manager, Farrell, than there would’ve been for Showalter, or the manager with the best record in the AL);

2. For people who like the added juice of the game determining home field advantage, it will continue to do so, and for people who believe the team with the best record should have home field advantage in the WS, it would represent a bit of a compromise as the managers of teams with the best record each league will play a significant role in the game that determines home field advantage; and

3. There would be some day-to-day “drama” in the first weeks of July as managers come closer to “clinching” management of the AS game, and more drama in the game itself (e.g., in 2015, with St. Louis having the best record in baseball, there would have been slightly more drama with Matheny managing for home field advantage than Bochy).

Now, to be fair, if asked Bruce Bochy would never say that he has no designs on the World Series this year and it’d be silly to count the Giants out now given what they’ve done in the past several years. And, to be sure, it still would’ve been Ned Yost for the AL this year.

But it’s worth noting that Yost used his best player, Mike Trout, more than any All-Star player has been used in a game in seven or eight years. And in some seasons, such as last year with Ferrell, there really is a manager who, at least privately, likely realizes that, for him, home field advantage in the World Series is a lot more theoretical than anything else. Maybe this changes little immediately but maybe, over time, we’d see more best-player-usage if we had managers with slightly more vested interests.

In any event, the run-up idea — “who will clinch the manager job?” — could lead to some excitement too. Maybe you put a cutoff on it for logistical reasons, like a week before the All-Star Game, but it could be a fun late-June, early-July topic of conversation.

Anyway, I rather like this idea. What say you, commenters?

Mike Trout shines as the American League beats the National League 6-3 in the All-Star Game

Mike Trout

CINCINNATI — Mike Trout is the best baseball player in the game today. You can doubt this if you wish, but you’d be wrong to do so.

No matter what you think about that, Trout led the charge for the American League on Tuesday night, reaching base three times, scoring twice, launching a home run and showing off some serious speed as the American League beat the National League 6-3. It was the American League’s 16th win in the past 19 All-Star Games and ensures that the AL representative will have home field advantage in the World Series.

After the game Trout was named the All-Star Game MVP for the second straight year. It’s the first time any player has won the MVP Award in back-to-back years and the fifth time a player has won the MVP Award more than once. As part of a sponsor tie-in, he got to choose between a brand new Chevy Silverado truck or a Camaro for winning it. He picked the truck this year, after taking a Corvette last time around. He doesn’t turn 24 for a couple of weeks. He’s gonna have a lot of trucks by the time his career is over.

Trout, batting leadoff, came to the plate four times on Tuesday night, making him the first player to have four plate appearances in an All-Star Game since Jose Reyes did in 2007 and the first AL player to do so since Ichiro did in 2004. But of course, when you’re the best player in baseball you should get to play more than anyone else. And he had a good night, homering in the first inning, beating out what should’ve been a sure double play in the fifth and eventually coming around to score. In the seventh he drew a walk and his pinch runner, Brock Holt, came around to score. He finished the night 1-for-3 with a walk, a homer and two runs scored.

The American League had other heroes of course. Brian Dozier homered. Manny Machado doubled in Holt. Prince Fielder singled in a run. Lorenzo Cain doubled one in. But on the offensive side of things, it was the Mike Trout show.

The National League wasn’t totally silent on this night, but their biggest highlights were more sound and fury than anything else. Jacob deGrom struck out the AL side in the sixth on ten pitches. Aroldis Chapman did the same in the top of the ninth on fourteen pitches, hitting triple digits over and over and over again. The AL hitters had no idea what to make of him. If an AL team picks him up at the trade deadline, it’s gonna be trouble for that team’s opponents in the late innings.

On the offensive side the Senior Circuit scored on a Jhonny Peralta single in the second, an Andrew McCutchen homer in the sixth and a Ryan Braun triple plus a sac fly in the ninth. But that was all they’d get.

The winning pitcher: David Price, not that a pitcher’s win matters much in a game in which no pitcher threw more than two innings and most only pitched a single frame. The loser: Clayton Kershaw, who gave up two runs in the fifth. This game didn’t matter too much and the NL’s loss had many helpers, but I’m sure someone will still try to hang the “can’t win the big one” label on Kershaw as a result. It’s a shame, but that seems to be his lot in life lately, at least in the minds of people who like contrived narratives more than actually analyzing baseball.

Whatever the case, that’s it from the Mid-Summer Classic, folks. See you in the American League pennant winner’s home park for Game One of the 2015 World Series. And in San Diego for the 2016 All-Star Game when we’ll do this silly thing once again.

Video: Mike Trout goes second to home in 6.8 seconds

trout getty

Watch as Mike Trout races home in 6.8 seconds on a fifth-inning RBI single by Prince Fielder …

Trout homered in the first inning and drew a walk in the seventh. He was eventually lifted for Brock Holt.

Mike Trout’s power scored the first run, his legs help score the second. AL leads 3-1.


Mike Trout got things going in this game with his power. He kept them going with his legs.

Clayton Kershaw came on for the NL and gave up a single to Alcides Escobar. Trout grounded into what would’ve been a double play for anyone else running, but he bolted down the line like nobody’s business and beat the throw. I can’t recall seeing anyone with that kind of hustle in an All-Star Game, at least not lately. Trout safe at first, one out.

After another out Albert Pujols walked, putting Trout on second. Then Prince Fielder came in as a pinch hitter for Nelson Cruz and singled to left. Despite a strong, strong throw from Joc Pederson, there was no getting Trout who slid home for the American League’s second run. Next up was Lorenzo Cain, who doubled to left plating Pujols. Kershaw buckled down and struck out Brett Gardner, ending the inning.

It’s now 3-1, A.L. at the end of five.

Video: Mike Trout opens the All-Star Game with a homer

Mike Trout
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Mike Trout kicked off Tuesday night’s 2015 All-Star Game with a home run off Zack Greinke …

Trout led off his first All-Star Game with a single, his second with a double, and his third with a triple. That’s a cycle of some sort. He’s pretty good — named a member of the Angels’ Franchise Four at age 23.