In Seattle, the stars of the MLB came together to play in the annual All-Star game, a halfway marker for the season being over, and a halfway marker for all Rockies fans that the suffering has just two and a half more months to go. The All-Star game has been criticized in the past, from being boring, to the odd stretch from 2003 to 2016 when the outcome of the game determined home field advantage for the World Series.
Now, the All-Star game feels more relaxed, as an All-Star game typically should. It’s about fanfare and representation. Players get an opportunity to reveal their personality, and for some players like Pete Alonso, fans get to see how some players can on the rare occasion be absolute psychopaths, but that’s besides the point.
Representation. Major League Baseball makes sure every team has at least one player representing their club on the day of the game. Fair is fair. And while this feels like a participation trophy for many of the teams scraping the bottom of the standings, fans often forget that every team has at least one player in attendance. A lone soul not allowed to relax and kick back for the bountiful four day break in the middle of a grueling 162-game season.
Can you really blame fans for forgetting these players are there?
As far as the Rockies season has gone, there have only been a handful of players worth of All-Star consideration.
- Ezequiel Tovar has been a pleasure to watch. He’s young. He gives us hope for the future, but he’s not an All-Star, yet.
- Ryan McMahon has had a great year, especially for the laughable Rockies. What’s holding him back from an All-Star appearance is his position at third base, the hot plate where so many perennial all-stars live.
- And then we have 32-year-old catcher Elias Díaz. Díaz is having a career-best year. His batting average is healthy, he’s on pace to set personal records for the number of games played and RBIs. He’s a veteran leader on a young, terrible team that desperately needs leadership.
So, when Díaz was selected as a National League reserve player, there wasn’t much of a surprise. Someone had to go, and clearly, Díaz was the man for the job.
My apologies to the Díaz family and the vacation they probably had planned. (They’ll have a great opportunity to take a well-deserved vacation the day the Rockies play their last game.)
In the All-Star game, the managers of each league actively strive to win. They keep those starting stars in the game for as long as they can, mostly because they give them the best chance to win, and because they are the ones the fans want to see on the field. Those reserve players like Díaz, will typically earn a plate appearance or two. They aren’t expected to do much, after all, they’re just the backups.
So, a Rockies player isn’t expected to do much at all in the All-Star game.
Represent the team, wave to fans, smile, play only if you have to. Those feel like the instructions given to a player of insignificance over the course of the two days events actually occur.
But how amazing would it be if a Rockies player not only got in the game, but in his first at-bat, in the bottom of the eighth inning, with a man on second, pinch-hitting for Jorge Soler with no outs, the National League trailing 2-1, stepped up in a 2-2 count and hit a 360 foot homer to left field? It would be cool, like really really cool, right?
Elias Díaz did two things with one swing.
First: he drove in the tying and go-ahead run for the National League All-Star team, a team that hasn’t won the All-Star game in 9 years.
Second: he became the first Rockies player to win the All-Star game MVP.
It was great, and clearly the Venezuelan catcher, with his family in the crowd, was incredibly emotional over what he’d just done.
The Rockies definitely didn’t have much of a right to send any player to the All-Star game, but if anyone really has a problem with it, blame the commissioner.
Elias Díaz made a boring game pretty awesome and he deserved the moment. As a Rockies player, I’m sure there isn’t much to cheer for throughout the course of the season. And yet, winning the All-Star game may have been the vacation Díaz deserved after all.
He deserves the recognition. He deserves that weird, crystal trophy shaped like a bat given to the MVP. At least something cool happened to the Rockies over the weekend.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette