On July 16, Citi Field played host to Major League Baseball’s 84th annual All-Star Game.
By Michael Gilbert
On July 16, Citi Field played host to Major League Baseball’s 84th annual All-Star Game. The mid-season classic brings with it some other fan-driven events, including the Home-Run Derby, to create what is known as All-Star weekend.
For the baseball junkie, All-Star Weekend is three days of paradise. For me, it brought a little of everything, including near heat stroke and some father-son bonding time.
All-Star Fanfest, held at cavernous Jacob K. Javits Center on the Manhattan’s West Side, was just about what you would expect: Masses of people walking through a convention center while companies tryto sell them things. If that type of attraction did not pique your interest, there was always the option of standing in lines that sometimes lasted hours, waiting for an autograph. No thanks.
The next day’s events were better. The MLB Futures Game at Citi Field was an all-star game for the top minor leaguers. The prospects took batting practice and interacted with fans before the game, then played nine highly competitive innings in the brutal 96- degree heat. Yes, I had to get up and walk around in the inner portion of the stadium because of the heat, and yes, many a kid got pushed out of the way by grown men to get autographs and catch batting practice balls, but overall it was an incredibly fun event.
Immediately following the game, the grounds crew began setting up the field for the Taco Bell Legends and Celebrities Softball Game. Somehow, the thought of seeing George Lopez and Kevin James play after watching some of the best prospects in baseball did not appeal to me.
Monday night was the Home-Run Derby, one of my favorite events in all of sports. Eight players are selected to try and crush a baseball as far as they possibly can. Hometown stars David Wright of the Mets, and Robinson Cano of the Yankees were named captains of the National and American league teams, and each was allowed to pick three players.
Both captains flamed out early, but Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland A’s, put on a show, hitting 17 home runs in the first round, some of which left my mouth hanging open. Cespedes beat out 20 year-old phenom Bryce Harper of the Nationals in the final round to take home the crown.
Tuesday was the big night. Needless to say I was excited. But as a Yankee fan, it really wasn’t my night, which belonged to Mets fans.
After years of misery, including the first half of this season, they came to a sold out Citi Field to see the future of their team, Matt Harvey, and franchise player David Wright. Mets legend Tom Seaver threw out the ceremonial first pitch; Harvey started on the mound for the National League. Many fans saw it as a changing of the guard.
Fast forward to the eighth inning, because it was a pretty non-eventful game until then, aside from Harvey bouncing a fastball off Robinson Cano’s knee. The American League put up three runs, while absolutely shutting out the National League.
Then “Enter Sandman” by Metallica sounded, as Mariano Rivera, in his last All Star game, ran to the mound to a sustained standing ovation from fans, players and coaches. It was a special moment. Then baseball’s last remaining number 42 pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and the American League got the victory, 3-0.
Driving home, my dad and I reminisced about all of the baseball memories we’ve shared and all the games we have been to together. That was the best part of All-Star Weekend. It was a chance to remember some great memories and form some new ones. After all, that’s what sports are all about.