All-Star events are about showcasing the best the game has to offer. Aaron Judge was a star before he made his first appearance, but he became a superstar after his Home Run Derby victory.
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Ted Williams was thought of as one of the best in baseball but his legend began to take shape when he hit a walk-off three-run homer as a 22-year-old off of Claude Passeau in 1941 to win the All-Star Game. To this day it is the only walk-off homer in the history of the Midsummer Classic.
So, why did reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts never step to the plate Tuesday in the AL’s 4-3 win over the NL at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio?
It’s because the AL manager – Betts’ everyday manager with the Red Sox – Alex Cora planned it that way.
Cora told Masslive.com he wanted to give players making their first All-Star Game appearance a chance to play rather than prioritizing getting his best player an at-bat.
When Cora put Betts in the game in right field in the eighth inning, he did so after getting Royals utilityman Whit Merrifield and Rays outfielder Austin Meadows into the game. This was their first All-Star Game appearances and they got at-bats because Cora decided not to give his own player one.
So, while it may have seemed like a snub to Betts, it really was just giving other players chances. This was Betts’ fourth All-Star selection and it likely will not be his last.
The MLB All-Star Game may be more competitive than most and still has drama and intensity to it every year, but it is still just an exhibition and Cora did not lose sight of that.