Back from a break just in time for All-Star break

Back from a break just in time for All-Star break

A few thoughts from the week in sports …

I returned from vacation in time to write an All-Star edition of my week in sports column.

Major League Baseball’s All-Star break is always a fun time. It’s a celebration of my favorite sport, a time to watch the game’s best current players and recall past games.

The break for the Mid-Summer Classic is always a good time to take a close look at our Cleveland baseball team’s first half and debate whether it’s a pretender or contender (more on that below).

The American League defeated the National League 3-2 at legendary Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

The first Cleveland All-Stars to wear the new Guardians moniker played well in the game: Jose Ramirez, Andres Gimenez and Emmanuel Clase.

MLB showed once again why its All-Star Game is easily the best in sports.

For starters, it actually looks like a real game, other than having a multitude of pitching changes and substitutions.

Defense is an afterthought in the NBA and NHL All-Star Games. The NBA doesn’t even break the teams up by conference anymore.

The NFL Pro Bowl is the worst of all. I doubt if the players even like it.

Why even play a game that’s based around big hits, intensity and aggression without those traits?

The MLB All-Star Game lost some of its allure after Interleague play was introduced in 1997, but it’s still been fun to watch the game’s biggest stars on the same field.

The most magical All-Star Games for me were played when I was a kid in the 1970s and 1980s. I still remember hoping one of the Indians’ representatives — someone like Andre Thornton or Brook Jacoby — would get into the game and do something special. Yeah, those were pretty lean years.

Cleveland hosted the 1981 All-Star Game, and one of the greatest moments of my childhood was my dad taking me to see that game.

In the heyday of the 1990s, the Indians seemingly had All-Stars in at least half the positions on the diamond. Three times they had six All-Stars (1995, 1998, 1999).

Cleveland also hosted All-Star Games in 1997 and 2019, and both times a Tribe player was named MVP: Sandy Alomar and then Shane Bieber.

Buyers or sellers?

It will be interesting to see what the Guardians do before the Aug. 2 trade deadline.

Cleveland entered the All-Star Break with a 46-44 record and in second place in the AL Central, trailing the Twins by two games. The expanded playoffs will include six teams from each league.

The Guardians have been surprisingly competitive and fun to watch, especially considering they’ve used 11 players who have made their big league debut this season.

Paul Dolan is an unpopular owner, but he’s done a good job of hiring smart people in the front office.

Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff brought in some quality players in the likes of second baseman Gimenez (.296, 10 HR, 43 RBI), left fielder Steven Kwan (.279, second hardest AL player to strike out) and first baseman-DH Josh Naylor (.277, 13 HR, 47 RBI) to team up with veteran All-Star Ramirez (.288, 19 HR, 75 RBI).

A pitching staff that features Bieber (4-5, 3.24 ERA), Triston McKenize (7-6, 3.20) and Clase (2-2, 1.41 ERA, 19 saves) has second-half potential.

Cleveland badly needs another big bat and a relief pitcher or two. Hopefully, the front office can work some magic.

Wooster soccer alumni game

The Wooster Generals soccer program has some of the most impressive alumni support in the state.

Coach JP Lytle, a 2007 graduate who will enter his fifth year leading the varsity team, said he’s expecting a record turnout of 140 or more former players to attend the 40th annual WHS Alumni Soccer Game at Follis Field on July 30.

The game will go from 8 a.m. to noon. They’ll need that much time to let all of the alums see action.

“We will have all of our hall of fame guys there, including the ones being inducted this year,” Lytle said. “All of our coaches from the past will be there. Guys from the first team in 1979 to guys who graduated just last year are coming.

“I don’t believe any other team in Wooster, Wayne County or the state has that many come back for alumni games. We’re really looking forward to it.”

Fans are invited to attend.

Parting shots

My family was blessed to enjoy a great vacation to Seattle last week, where we visited my brother and his family.

Two of the highlights were hiking on Mount Rainier and attending a Blue Jays at Mariners game on July 9. Seattle won 2-1, thanks to a Carlos Santana home run (we brought some good Cleveland karma to the former Indian).

Seattle’s T-Mobile Park, formerly Safeco Field, seats 47,943, has a retractable roof and a great view of Puget Sound.

The Guardians could really use a retractable roof — they’ve had nine home games postponed by weather. Cleveland has had to endure playing eight doubleheaders, with two more scheduled for the second half.

Seattle will be the site of the 2023 MLB All-Star Game, which will be more enjoyable to watch having been there and gotten a feel for the ballpark and surrounding area.

—It’s always fun to see games in different MLB stadiums. I’ve now been to four MLB parks outside of Cleveland: Seattle, Colorado, St. Louis and the old Tiger Stadium in Detroit. I know that’s not a lot by some other people’s standards, and it’s hard to believe I haven’t been to nearby Cincinnati or Pittsburgh.

I’m interested to hear some of our readers’ out-of-town baseball experiences. If you’ve been to a lot of different stadiums or have some unique out-of-town baseball tales, drop me an email for possible inclusion in a future column.

And I’m always interested to hear local sports or news story tips.

Aaron Dorksen can be emailed at aarondorksen24@gmail.com.