“I went out there, showed what I had,” Helsley said. “It was a cool environment being in this game.”
Seattle’s Ty France, greeted by Dodger Stadium organist Dieter Ruehle with “La Vie en Rose” when he pinch hit for his All-Star debut, fouled off a Helsley fastball, then struck out when he chased a low outside slider.
“The way game is now, everybody’s throwing that hard. It’s not fun to face, but it’s just how the game is,” France said. “To be able to step in the box on this stage, it was pretty cool.”
Clase, a 24-year-old Cleveland right-hander, threw 10 pitches ranging from 97.7 mph to 100.3 mph.
“Every time that bullpen door swings open, it’s velocity,” NL manager Brian Snitker said. “The guys, they weren’t like that. The closers weren’t throwing like they are now. But it’s kind of the way they are growing up and now they are trained — and amazing to me, the number of them, too. It’s like they just keep coming.”
Defensive positioning designed by Joe Espada, Dusty Baker’s bench coach in Houston, led to outs on balls that used to be hits.
Juan Soto’s third-inning grounder was gloved by second baseman Andrés Giménez 20 feet into right field. Kyle Schwarber’s bouncer in the seventh was picked up in the center of the diamond by shortstop Corey Seager, who started to the right of second, and Jake Cronenworth’s hopper went directly to second baseman Santiago Espinal 10 feet into right field.
“The shift giveth and the shift taketh away,” Baker said. “But still, I think it giveth more than it takes away.”
The batter’s eye in center field offered a vivid display of what has overtaken baseball — an array of high-speed cameras and radar equipment that track every ball’s spin, every player’s sprint and stumble.
Behinds the scenes, many teams consider their quants All-Stars, too. Houston’s front office includes a quantitative developer, plus two senior architects.
The NL did all its scoring during Shane McClanahan’s first 13 pitches of the first inning, getting Ronald Acuña Jr’s leadoff double, Mookie Betts’ RBI single and Paul Goldschmidt’s homer.
AL offense was even more condensed. Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer in the fourth off Tony Gonsolin, and Byron Buxton went deep four pitches later.
Not a surprise in a season that has been the big league batting average dip to .242, its lowest since 1967.
Baseball’s competition committee is considering changes for next season that some purists consider revolutionary and some conclude necessary. A pitch clock is almost certain after testing throughout the minors this year. Shift limits also have been proposed.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is gung-ho for change, but players appear less enthusiastic for change. Still, the union agreed to let a committee with a management majority make changes starting with next season.
“Our players have been, unsurprisingly, very much engaged in the process,” union head Tony Clark said, “more than willing to offer their thoughts on what makes sense, what may not make sense, what may need to be adjusted and tweaked.”
Is it the best team in baseball history or just media hype in the Twitter age? The Yankees are on pace for 115 wins, but they’re 2-3 against the Houston Astros, the team they should face in the American League Championship Series.
Eric Christian Smith
Dusty Baker’s ninth life might be his best managing job yet. The hated Astros remain America’s best bet to save us from a Yankees-Mets World Series.
Nam Y. Huh
No wonder White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf didn’t want Steve Cohen buying the Mets. Spending tons of money apparently works, and hiring a wise, old man in Buck Showalter was the correct move to take the Mets to the next level.
The tracks of Freddie Freeman’s tears took on a life of their own, but the former MVP made the best lineup in baseball even stronger. With so many current and former All-Stars on the roster, the Dodgers can cruise into the postseason without adding on. But they will anyway because they’re the Dodgers.
They woke up four games under .500 on June 1 and suddenly remembered they were the world champions. The Braves went on a 14-game winning streak and entered the final weekend of the first half winning 31 of 41 games and challenging the Mets in the NL East.
Starter Shane Baz this week became the 17th Rays player — and 12th pitcher — on the injured list. But you don’t hear manager Kevin Cash complaining about it because the Rays have an abundance of depth and play through injuries.
The Brewers have no real stars in their lineup outside of Christian Yelich, yet they’re fourth in baseball in home runs and getting enough starting pitching to lead the majors’ weakest division. How long can this last? At least until 2023.
Replacing manager Joe Girardi with Rob Thomson proved to be the right move by GM Sam Fuld. But they’re 3-9 against the Mets, and Bryce Harper is out with a fractured thumb, leaving it all on Kyle Schwarber to carry the load. So far, so good.
The “meh” contender in the “meh” division. The Cardinals should be running away with the NL Central with sluggers Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, but they’re still treading water at the halfway mark under first-year manager Oliver Marmol.
Frank Franklin II
They have nothing to play for but a wild-card spot, and losing two of three to the Cubs sent them into a tailspin in July. Ace Chris Sale came back hoping to lift the Red Sox but lasted only one inning in his second start before suffering his next deflating injury, a broken left pinkie after getting hit on the hand by a line drive.
Their latecollapse last year is fresh in everyone’s minds, so skepticism remains after another strong start. Bob Melvin replaced Jayce Tingler, but it could be 2021 was the players’ fault after all. Padres fans are piling on President A.J. Preller.
Give peace a chance? No thanks. A disappointing season turned around after their epic brawl with the Angels. The M’s went 11-1 during the player suspensions and roared into the weekend with 14 wins in 15 games.
Still living off their potential instead of living up to it, which led to Charlie Montoya’s firing Wednesday. Like the White Sox, the Jays still have hope that their talent will make a difference in the long run. What else is there?
The Marlins posted a 2.56 ERA in 15 games from June 29 through Thursday, and Sandy Alcantara might be the best starter in baseball. But all that pitching is being wasted on a young team that’s always a couple players short of turning the corner.
Give the Twins credit for staying in first place this long. But they had better hang on because Carlos Correa probably will opt out for more money after the season. Then it’s back to the rebuild.
Brandon Hyde should be AL Manager of the Year if the Orioles finish above .500 after a 110-loss season. Even the weakest link in the AL East is better than some contenders with superior records.
Baseball’s biggest bust in the first half? Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa is taking a beating on Twitter, sports-talk radio and the Sox postgame show. GM Rick Hahn can’t be happy with the way his team has played.
New name, same old team. The Guardians are a young bunch accidentally contending in a bad division. When the players get better, they’ll be dealt for more prospects. It’s a vicious cycle in Cleveland.
The Rangers went big this offseason, setting a record by spending more than a half-billion dollars on players, notably signing Corey Seager and Marcus Semien to long-term deals. They still suck, and their longest winning streak is four games.
They won 107 games last season but will be lucky to finish .500 the way they’ve been playing since June. Defensively inept is a polite way of putting it.
Kris Bryant playing third base appears to be history, but his back issues aren’t, so the Rockies have some explaining to do if he doesn’t revert to form.
Javier Báez needed an audience to perform to but somehow wound up in Detroit. This was supposed to be the year they turned the corner, but it’s still the same old Lions ... I mean Tigers.
Their No. 5 starters combined for a 7.93 ERA, so they called up Dallas Keuchel to stop the bleeding. Should we tell them? Nah.
Firing manager Joe Maddon for Phil Nevin was like replacing Steve McQueen with Don Knotts. The Angels hitters have a strikeout rate of over 26%, which is worse than many T-ball teams.
Nam Y. Huh
The rebuild that can’t be called a rebuild looks a lot like a rebuild that’s going the wrong way. But Cubs fans are leading the league in beer-cup snakes, so there’s that.
The Bucs lost to the Cubs 21-0 and it still wasn’t their low point of the season.
Frank Franklin II
At least Joey Votto seems to be having fun while the Titanic sinks. The Reds’ only saving grace is getting to play in the same division as the Cubs and Pirates.
Ten players couldn’t make the trip to Toronto because they were unvaccinated, which should be embarrassing to baseball and the Royals front office. But GM Dayton Moore and manager Mike Matheny are embarrass-proof.
Juan Soto reportedly turned down a $440 million, 15-year contract offer to remain with the Nationals that would have been the most lucrative in baseball history. And that’s a shame, because he’s the only player worth watching on that team.
Eric Christian Smith
Four fans at an A’s game reportedly were injured by bullet fragments from people in Oakland shooting bullets in the air to celebrate the Fourth of July. One more reason to avoid going to an A’s game.
Jae C. Hong
American League outfielder Julio Rodriguez, of the Seattle Mariners, interacts with fans in the outfield during the eighth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game against the National League, Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong )