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

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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.

Justin Verlander laughed at after saying Astros were “technologically and analytically advanced”

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Justin Verlander was at the annual Baseball Writers Association of America banquet last night, on hand to accept the 2019 Cy Young Award. Normally such things are pretty routine events, but nothing is routine with the Houston Astros these days.

During his acceptance speech, Verlander made some comments about the Astros’ “technological and analytical advancements.” The comments were greeted by some laughter in the room as well as some groans. At least one person on hand claimed that other players present were visibly angry.

It’s hard to tell the context of it all without a full video — maybe Verlander meant it as a joke, maybe the reactions were more varied than is being described — but here’s how reporters on hand for it last night are describing it:

If it was a joke it was ill-timed, as not many around the game think the sign-stealing stuff is funny at the moment. Especially in light of the fact that, despite having several opportunities to do so, Astros players have failed to show any accountability for their cheating.

And yes, that includes former Astros Dallas Keuchel, who was praised for “apologizing” at a White Sox fan event on Friday, but whose “apology” was couched in a lot of deflection and excuse-making about how it was just something that was done at the time and about how technology was to blame. Keuchel also tried to minimize it, saying that the Astros didn’t do it all the time. Which is rich given that the most prominent video evidence of their trash can-banging scheme came from a blowout Astros win in a meaningless August game against a losing team. If they were doing it in that situation, please, do not tell me they weren’t doing it when games really mattered.

Anyway, I’d like to think Verlander was just trying to take a stab at a joke here, because Verlander is the wrong guy to be sending to be sending any kind of messages diminishing the cheating given that he has a pretty solid track record of holding other players’ feet to the fire when they get busted.

For example, here he was in 2018 after Robinson Canó got busted for PEDs:

Of course, consistency can be a problem for Verlander when his teammates are on the ones who are on the hook. Here was his response to Tigers infielder Jhonny Peralta being suspended in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal:

“Everybody makes mistakes. He’s my brother. We fight and bleed and sweat together on the baseball field. If my brother makes a mistake, especially if he owns up to it and serves his time, I don’t see how you can hold a grudge or anything like that. “It’s one thing to step up and be a man and own up to his mistake.”

Verlander, it should also be noted, was very outspoken about teams engaging in advanced sign-stealing schemes once upon a time. here he was in 2017, while still with the Tigers, talking about such things in a June 2017 interview with MLive.com.

“We don’t have somebody, but I’m sure teams have a person that can break down signals and codes and they’ll have the signs before you even get out there on the mound.  It’s not about gamesmanship anymore. It used to be, ‘Hey, if you can get my signs, good for you.’ In the past, if a guy on second (base) was able to decipher it on a few pitches, I guess that was kind of part of the game. I think it’s a different level now. It’s not good.”

Which makes me wonder how he felt when he landed on the Astros two months later and realized they had a sophisticated cheating operation underway. If the feelings were mixed, he was able to bury the part of them which had a problem with it, because he’s said jack about it since this all blew up in November. And, of course, has happily accepted the accolades and the hardware he he has received since joining Houston, some of which was no doubt acquired by virtue of a little extra, ill-gotten run support.

Anyway, wake me up when someone — anyone — associated with the Astros shows some genuine accountability about this.