2017 MLB All-Star Game: Veterans steal All-Star spotlight from rookies

By Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange  |  July 12, 2017 at 1:23 AM
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MIAMI -- To hear the talk this week, Aaron Judge is 8 feet tall and can walk on the heavenly waters of South Beach.

And the hype wasn't reserved only for the New York Yankees slugger, who is actually 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds. Fellow rookie Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers and 26 more first-time All-Stars were selected for the Tuesday game at Marlins Park.

Judge, who leads the majors with 30 homers, won the Home Run Derby on Monday, and Bellinger has 25 bombs. They were the story all week, and there is no doubt -- the kids are more than just all right.

But guess what?

It was the old guys who stole the show on Tuesday night, including 37-year-old Nelson Cruz and a pair of 34-year-olds, Robinson Cano and Yadier Molina.

Cano, the Seattle Mariners second baseman, was chosen as the Most Valuable Player after leading off the top of the 10th inning with what became the game-winning solo homer as the American League defeated the National League 2-1.

"I was just trying to swing hard and see if I could hit one out," said Cano, who revealed that he was determined to swing at the first strike he saw from Chicago Cubs closer Wade Davis. "I was lucky to hit one out."

Cano has already had an incredible career. He is an eight-time All-Star, a five-time Silver Slugger winner and a two-time Gold Glove fielder. He has also won one World Series, one World Baseball Classic and one Home Run Derby.

But something was missing.

"I was dreaming for a long time to win All-Star Game MVP," said Cano, who was only chosen to this year's AL team after Yankees infielder Starlin Castro was injured. "I wanted to know how it felt."

Now he knows, and he did it on a night in which Judge and Bellinger both went 0-for-3.

Meanwhile, Molina, the St. Louis Cardinals catcher who has won eight Gold Gloves and is an eight-time All-Star and a two-time World Series champ, went 1-for-1 with a solo home run and a walk.

Molina and Cruz were also involved in the game's most unusual situation.

In the top of the sixth inning, Cruz, the Mariners designated hitter, paused before taking his at-bat and asked Molina to take a photo of himself with veteran umpire Joe West.

After a brief lesson on how to use Cruz's phone, Molina snapped the photograph. Cruz then stuffed the phone in his back pocket, and he proceeded to fly out.

Molina said it was a "weird moment" before also calling it funny and great.

Cruz said he just wanted to pay homage to West, who recently called the 5,000th game of his career.

"Joe is one of the more popular umpires," Cruz said. "I'm a fan of his. He's a legend. I will frame that picture."

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