CLEVELAND — Cleveland last was the baseball epicenter in the fall of 2016 when the Indians hosted the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.
The atmosphere was different back then. That was more regionalized as more Indians and Cubs were invested. There was also more on the line.
From Friday until today, the baseball world has been tuned back into Cleveland for the 2019 All-Star Game and surrounding activities.
There was the Home Run Derby Monday and the game tonight, but a whole bunch of other features to keep even the modest baseball fan interested and having fun along the way.
Play Ball Park, at the Huntington Convention Center in downtown Cleveland, has been a popular destination for fans, especially those who might not attend the game. There are are baseball-themed activities, photo chances and interactive displays.
Walking around Cleveland between Progressive Field and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (the home of the of the Cleveland Cavaliers) Monday, I saw plenty of people milling around. There was rock music blaring and fans of just about every team in the Majors sporting some sort of gear of their own choosing.
I even saw jerseys worn of the Browns’ Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr., as well as a LeBron Lakers No. 23. But I digress.
Cleveland is hosting the All-Star Game for the sixth time and first since 1997.
Jason Patric (not the actor) made the trek from New York City to watch the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game tonight. He sported a New York Yankees hat.
He was looking forward to seeing the younger players.
“The game is in good hands with (L.A. Angels Mike) Trout, (Milwaukee Brewers Christian) Yelich and (Los Angeles Dodgers Cody) Bellinger,” Patric said prior to the Home Run Derby. “This is a great group of All-Stars.”
He was looking forward to watching New York Mets rookie sensation Pete Alonso compete in the Home Run Derby. Alonso is one of three major leaguers with 30 homers on the season.
“With the way the ball are, the taxi cabs better watch out,” Patric said.
Patric has plans to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Sitting outside of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Joe Brode was decked out in his Boston Red Sox gear.
“There’s a good vibe here,” the Ravenna resident said. “It’s great for the community.”
Brode was looking to see the young players compete.
“Vlad (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays) and Peter Alonso,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing great baseball players. It's great to see great baseball”
Brode is a fan of the Red Sox, especially former big-leaguer David Ortiz.
Even though the Indians are 5.5 games out of first place in the American League Central Division behind the Minnesota Twins, Brode thinks Cleveland can catch Minnesota.
The teams will play a big three-game series at Progressive Field this weekend.
“There are rumors circulating about (Indians starter Trevor) Bauer being traded,” Brode said. “Maybe they can add a piece or two and put a run together.”
The Indians are seeking a fourth-straight AL Central title.
The All-Star Game is one of a slew of significant events on the horizon in Cleveland for the future, including the 2020 first and second rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, 2021 National Football League Draft, 2022 National Basketball Association All-Star Game and 2024 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four.
“It’s a huge attraction for young players,” Brode said.
But, before those events happen, Cleveland has a baseball show to put on. The Indians are well represented with American League starting first baseman Carlos Santana, as well as teammates Francisco Lindor, Brad Hand and Shane Bieber.
Not surprisingly, Santana received the loudest ovation when introduced at the start of the Home Run Derby.
He ended up with 13 homers in the opening round, falling to Alonso, who had 14. The majority of the fans were not happy with that result.
Guerrero and Joc Pederson, of the L.A. Dodgers, stole the show with an epic semifinal showdown. Guerrero finally prevailed 40-39 in three tiebreakers.
Concerning the game itself, I don't know the motivation in each player's head, but have a feeling they're going to want to put on a good show for the fans and also have desire to win. I would imagine the folks putting on the All-Star festivities have the same goals.