Tuesday night’s MLB All-Star Game started slowly. It was a 2–2 game headed into the eighth inning, and the most memorable part of the game, to that point, had been the broadcast team prompting Mike Trout on two separate occasions to discuss the weather. All four runs had been scored on solo dingers, the crowd was quiet, and Joe Buck had been reduced to unsuccessfully begging Matt Kemp to stay mic’d up during an at-bat, whole innings earlier, when the game was still remotely fresh.
Jean Segura crushed a three-run no-doubter in the top of the eighth off of Josh Hader, who had the most eventful evening of all, to give the American League what seemed like it would for sure be an insurmountable three-run lead:
The game could’ve coasted along to a tidy 5-2 AL win, allowing everyone to go to bed at a reasonable hour, but noooooooooo. Rather than accept the AL’s superiority and let an arena full of tired people go on home, the National League rallied for a late comeback, behind a Christian Yelich solo dong in the bottom of the eighth inning, and a clutch game-tying two-run tater from Scooter Gennett with one down in the bottom of the ninth:
The game proceeded to extra innings, with visions of the disastrous 2002 tie swirling in everyone’s memory. Thankfully, the American League wasted no time in reestablishing a little daylight between the two teams, on a pair of back-to-back blasts from Alex Bregman and George Springer, and then a Michael Brantley sac-fly to plate the game’s only non-dinger run. The Nationals are in the National League, the crowd seemed mostly to want the National League to pull through, but when a meaningless exhibition is creeping towards the three-and-a-half-hour mark, enough is enough. The three-run spurt in the top of the 10th was a welcome development, period.
A whopping 10 of the game’s 20 total hits were home runs, and eight of those were solo shots. The previous high for dingers in an All-Star game was six; seven dingers were hit Tuesday night after the sixth inning. Possibly I had dinger fatigue after such a thrilling Home Run Derby Monday night, but the parade of strikeouts and solo shots felt excruciatingly long and tedious well before the game ever made it to extras, and the National League’s late rally felt more like an unwelcome second helping of a lousy casserole than a moment of high drama. What I’m saying is baseball in 2018 is beginning to test the true entertainment value of the long ball.