2021 MLB All-Star Game starters announced

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — The sons are coming out for the All-Star Game in Denver.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. joined his father as an All-Star and Fernando Tatis Jr. accomplished a feat his dad never achieved.

Toronto’s first baseman and San Diego’s shortstop were among nine first-time All-Stars elected Thursday to start the July 13 game at Colorado’s Coors Field.

Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien and outfielder Teoscar Hernandez also were first-time All-Stars chosen in fan voting, joined by Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, picked as the American League’s designated hitter; Boston third baseman Rafael Devers, Cincinnati outfielders Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker, and Pittsburgh second baseman Adam Frazier.

Injured Angels outfielder Mike Trout was elected to start for the eighth straight time, his ninth overall selection, and Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez was voted in for the fourth time and seventh appearance.

St. Louis third baseman Nolan Arenado was voted to his fourth straight start and sixth appearance, in his first season after he was traded by Colorado. He’ll be making his second visit to Coors Field after playing there this weekend with the Cardinals.

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge was selected for the third time, and Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts gained his second election to start and third appearance.

San Francisco catcher Buster Posey is set for his fifth start and seventh appearance, his first since 2018. Posey sat out the 2020 season due to health concerns for his family after he and his wife adopted prematurely born twins.

Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman was elected to his third start and fifth appearance, and Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. to his second start.

The All-Star Game returns this year following the cancellation of last year’s showcase at Dodger Stadium due to the coronavirus pandemic, which caused the start of the season to be delayed until late July. This year’s game was moved to Denver from Atlanta by Major League Baseball in response to election law changes enacted by Georgia. Critics have condemned the changes as being too restrictive.

Guerrero and Tatis are 22-year-old sons of former big leaguers.

Vladimir Guerrero was a nine-time All-Star from 1996-2011 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. Fernando Tatis was a third baseman, outfielder and first baseman who played in the major leagues from 1997-2010.

The Guerreros are the fifth father-son pair chosen to the game as starters, joining Ray and Bob Boone, Bob and Bret Boone, Bobby and Barry Bonds, and Cecil and Prince Fielder.

Ohtani, Mets slugger Pete Alonso, Orioles fan-favorite Trey Mancini and Rockies shortstop Trevor Story have been confirmed for this year’s All-Star Home Run Derby. Alonso won the previous event in 2019 at Cleveland.

Phase one of voting ran from June 3-24 and phase two from Monday to Thursday this week.

Hernandez beat Minnesota outfielder Byron Buxton by less than 5,000 votes for the final AL outfield spot in the closest race.

Trout matched Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Ryne Sandberg with eight consecutive fan elections, trailing only Hall of Famers Rod Carew (15), George Brett and Ken Griffey Jr. (11 each), Wade Boggs and Ozzie Smith (10 apiece), and Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez (9 each).

Eleven teams had players elected, led by Toronto with three, and Boston, Atlanta and Cincinnati with two each. The Blue Jays have been away from home since 2019 due to Canadian government coronavirus restrictions.

Pitchers and reserves determined by player voting and the commissioner’s office will be announced Sunday. Each All-Star team has 32 players

In relatively close votes, Winker edged the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts 16% to 13%, Arenado beat the Dodgers’ Justin Turner 40% to 30% and Bogaerts defeated the Blue Jays’ Bo Bichette 42% to 37%.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. He joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Biden supported Major League Baseball’s decision to pull this summer’s All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law that critics contend is too restrictive.