“There’s no crying in baseball.”
Those were the words once said by Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own. Those words still reign true today, but there was an exception during Tuesday night’s MLB All-Star Game.
There were plenty of awesome moments in regards to the game itself. Specifically for the Cleveland Indians, those moments included the player introductions, Carlos Santana making his All-Star debut in his first year back in Cleveland, Francisco Lindor mic’d up, Shane Bieber being named the All-Star Game MVP, and even CC Sabathia returning to Progressive Field one last time, among other things.
While all of those were great and moments that many of us will always remember, especially given the fact that the All-Star Game took place in Cleveland, what happened in the fifth inning was likely the moment of the night. It not only put life and sports (specifically baseball) in perspective, but it also made all of us realize that, while we admire them and look up to them, professional athletes are people too, just like the rest of us.
Stand Up To Cancer, a non-profit, charitable organization was founded in 2008. Since 2011, they have taken a moment throughout every Midsummer Classic to allow each person in attendance — players, coaches, front office members, and fans alike — to either remember, pray for, and/or dedicate the moment to a person (or even multiple people), honoring someone that means the most to them. They do so by writing down a name(s) on a sign like this one.
That moment alone makes all of us realize how much cancer legitimately affects every single person one way or another. But Tuesday night’s was even more special. On June 5, it was announced that Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco was battling a blood disease, something that would keep him off the field indefinitely. Then this past Friday, it was revealed that he was batting CML, a treatable form of leukemia.
During the Stand Up To Cancer placard moment Tuesday night, Cleveland took the opportunity to honor Carrasco. The five members of the Indians — Terry Francona, Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor, Shane Bieber, Brad Hand, and Carlos Carrasco — stood in front of the home-team dugout. The first four had placards that said “Cookie”, while Cookie’s said “I stand”. It was a tear-jerking, gut-wrenching, chill- and goosebump-making moment for those in attendance and watching on TV.
We all stand united against cancer.
Who do you stand up for? pic.twitter.com/XnnN8Gjz4R
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 10, 2019
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 10, 2019
Hometown favorites Santana, Lindor, Bieber, Hand, Tito, and Michael Brantley received overwhelming and loud ovations, but nothing compared to the moment Carrasco and the rest of the Indians were shown on both the TV and jumbotron during that moment. It was something that Carrasco will remember forever, one in which he struggled to fight back tears. Here’s what members of the AL All-Star team had to say about it, according to MLB.com’s Mandy Bell:
“It’s a message to let him know we stand up for you, we’re all next to you,” Lindor said. “As a team, as a family, we’re all next to you and we’re right there for you. It doesn’t matter. We all believe in him. We all believe he’s going to kick cancer’s butt and he’ll be fine. At the end of the day, let him know, ‘We’re here for you, bro.’ He said, ‘Thank you, guys. I love you,'” Lindor said. “We told him, ‘We love you brother. We’re here for you. No matter what happens, we’re here for you because you’ve been there for us in the past.'”
“Yeah, it’s tough. He’s one of our teammates and one of the big guys in the clubhouse,” Hand said. “You don’t wish that upon anybody. We just got to support him any way we can.”
“It’s a great memory,” Santana said. “I’m going to cry thinking about. I know he’s sad. For him, for the teammates, for the fans. I mean, he’s strong. He’s strong. And I hope he’ll be fine.”
“I think it was extremely special for me, for him, for our teammates, for Terry, and the city of Cleveland as a whole,” Bieber said. “I think that was a really special moment. And for him to be doing what he’s doing and kind of turning it over on its head into a positive light and spending more time at the Children’s Hospital and spending time with kids, it’s something only he would do. And he’s a really special person. I’ve only known him for a year, year-plus … but he’s one of the best people I’ve ever met in my life. Nothing but respect for him and we’re standing with him and love him.”
“He knows that he’s got a lot of extended family that’ll be with him. … It’s not just talk. He knows he’s got a lot of people that care about him,” Francona said.
“When I saw him, it puts everything in perspective,” AL manager Alex Cora said. “We get caught up in wins and losses and pennant races and all that stuff … and then that happens. And there’s more than baseball in life. And we’re thinking and praying for him, his family and hopefully he can be back on the field sooner rather than later.”
There’s a very good chance that all of us have had to deal with cancer and everything surrounding the horrible disease one way or another, whether it’s you personally having it, a family member, a loved one, or even a friend. It sucks. There’s really no other easy way to put it. Personally, I’ve lost a handful of people — both family members and friends — to cancer. It’s one of the main reasons the Stand Up To Cancer tribute during every MLB All-Star Game always hits home for me. I also know people that have beaten cancer, which deserves to be celebrated as well. But that moment during every MLB All-Star Game since 2011 makes me stop and put life and sports in perspective. While Tuesday night’s Stand Up To Cancer tribute did all of that again, the specific on-field tribute to Carrasco gave me goosebumps. I’d be lying if it didn’t make me a little teary-eyed.
Remarkably, Carrasco has stated then and again that he hopes (and expects) to pitch again this season. That would be an incredible feat if he does. I just hope that he is fully healthy and cancer-free. Could care less if he pitches any time soon. All of that would just be an added bonus. From here on out though, we’re all #CookieStrong.
Thank you, MLB, for Standing Up To Cancer. While all of us will continue to do so, it’s nice to give us all a remember about how valuable life is as well. Carrasco’s moment during Tuesday night’s MLB All-Star Game will be one that I will never forget. A moment that gave me chills, goosebumps, and wondered who cut the onions all at the same time.
Kudos to you, MLB. Here’s to hoping we find a cure for cancer sooner rather than later.