Cleveland has proven then and again that they are a great host. The city did when the Cavaliers made four straight NBA Finals appearances from 2015-18. They did again when the Republican National Convention came to the shores of Lake Erie in 2016. Then came late 2016, when The Land was once again a great host for the World Series. The city may get a bad rep from people that just don’t like Cleveland, but northeast Ohio has proven to be a great host every time they have been given the chance to in recent memory. That trend continued the past days when the MLB All-Star Game and all of the festivities it entails made its way to Cleveland.
First things first, could the weather have been any more perfect? It was almost like someone called Mother Nature and ordered to have the best weather possible with people from around the country (and even the world) in Cleveland. It was such good weather that there might even be some tourists that wonder why some Clevelanders always complain about the weather.1 But seriously, the weather throughout all of the All-Star festivities could not have been any better.
From Play Ball Park to the red carpet and parade to the Home Run Derby, Celebrity Game, and the All-Star Game, everything seemed to go so smoothly and fans seemed to love all of it. While I, unfortunately, didn’t attend any of the main events at Progressive Field, I did go downtown to enjoy the atmosphere and all of the free (or cheap) All-Star festivities Sunday afternoon. The Play Ball Park was not only packed but was so fan-friendly. Everything in and around the Convention Center was not only used but was so well done and looked excellent. The concerts as well.
Then came the Celebrity Game. Cleveland Against The World was such a smart decision for the rosters. JR Smith playing the game shirtless was not only a reminder that the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 series lead, but I mean, it proved Swish’s legendary status even more.
I’m surprised it took me this long to talk about the Home Run Derby. What a show. Given the number of home runs that have been hit across all of the MLB so far this season, it was expected to be quite a night but it would be tough for you to find anyone that thought the derby would be that awesome. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. put on quite a show, to put it lightly. His monster home runs were a treat. Pete Alonso may have won the derby, but Vladdy won the night and no one will argue against that. The raw power, the number of dingers, the distance the 312 home runs that were hit Monday night. All of it was awesome. Oh, and that distance was 24.5 miles, to be exact. Incredible.
Many consider it the best Home Run Derby ever. I agree. Although I would have liked for Carlos Santana to get past the first round, he inevitably lost to the champion, so he got quite a tough matchup. Monday night’s events will definitely be some that I will never forget. It was a record-breaking night in Cleveland.
Going into tonight, the most home runs ever hit in a single Home Run Derby was 61 (Giancarlo Stanton, 2016).
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. hit 91 home runs tonight….and lost.
— Josh Poloha (@JorshP) July 9, 2019
— Josh Poloha (@JorshP) July 9, 2019
Let’s be honest, given the fact that Pete Alonso is such a lover of the state of Ohio, outside of Santana and Vladdy, could we have wanted another guy to win it the derby? Not me, at least.
— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) July 8, 2019
Then came the actual All-Star Game. I mean, does it get much more beautiful than this?
Hey now, you’re an All-Star pic.twitter.com/DYxQY8ctgl
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) July 10, 2019
The four Indians’ All-Stars — Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor, Brad Hand, and Shane Bieber — got the biggest ovations during introductions. Former Indians outfielder (and current Houston Astro) Michael Brantley also received a well-deserved standing ovation and loud applause. The fact that Aroldis Chapman and Cubs players received the biggest boos tells you all you need to know about the Cleveland crowd. All of that was so well done. Add in the fact that the MLB mic’ed up different players every single inning, including Lindor, and it was an awesome game all around.2
Brantley getting the game’s first RBI on an RBI double was poetic. Outside of Santana, you couldn’t have wanted another player to give the American League their first lead of the game. Then in the fifth inning, Shane Bieber not only went 1-2-3 but struck out the side in his first All-Star appearance. Prior to that third strikeout, chants of “Let’s go, Bieber!” were shouted throughout Progressive Field. It was one heckuva moment. Santana and Lindor may have gone 0-fer and Hand may have given up two runs in the eighth inning, but Bieber’s performance somewhat made up for the rest of the Indians. Oh, and with the American League beating the National League, 4-3, that performance led Bieber to be named the All-Star Game MVP. What a night for the first-time All-Star.
Also, with two outs in the ninth inning, CC Sabathia — who will retire at the end of the season and was allowed to attend the All-Star festivities even though he wasn’t on the roster — was sent out for a “mound visit”. It gave Cleveland one last time to give the future Hall of Famer a standing ovation. A cool moment, again.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t hear a single bad thing said about the city over the past week. From out-of-town reporters to fans and players, everyone seemed to enjoy their time here. The perfect weather sure helped that, too. There’s a reason Cleveland is set to host the 2021 NFL Draft, 2022 NBA All-Star Game, and 2014 Women’s NCAA Basketball Final Four. Time in and time out, northeast Ohio has proven to be a great host and the rest of the country has taken notice. It was nice to see that trend continue over the past few days.
Kudos to you, Cleveland, and everyone involved with making the 2019 MLB All-Star Game and its festivities ones we will never forget.