Chris Sale and Jose Quintana came away from the All-Star Game with objectives complete: They had fun, they stayed safe, and they didn't cost the American League home-field advantage in the World Series.
(You may remember that last part being a concern in 2010, when Matt Thornton gave up a bases-clearing double to Brian McCann with two outs in the seventh inning. That accounted for the National League's run total in its 3-1 victory, but the White Sox never got to test the aftereffects, as they missed the playoffs with an 88-74 record.
An All-Star veteran, Chris Sale said he loved watching Quintana experience the event. Sale was on the top row of the dugout when Quintana pitched in the fifth inning. A five-time All-Star, Sale said his mother took pictures of he and Quintana pitching and sent them to him.
Stars: They’re just like us!
The game as a whole went off without a hitch, with the exception of the Canadian National Anthem, which showed us such a thing as a "lone wolf tenor" is possible.
Tony Gwynn Jr. appreciated Sale's unprompted comments about about his father and the dangers of chewing tobacco:
"Coming from him, it’s powerful because he didn’t meet my dad," said Gwynn Jr., who also played for the San Diego Padres. "Here he is, a multi-time All-Star, and he brings up my dad without being asked about it and its kind of emotional."
Well, I wouldn't say MLBPA head Tony Clark addressed the lawsuit over minor league player compensation. He basically used the same dodge they always use -- "We legally don't have the ability to negotiate on their behalf" -- even though they've continually negotiated away rights of future members.
Rob Manfred wasn't much better, belittling the notion that minor league players are underpaid with blanket statements and scare tactics before abruptly ending that thread. The stink from MLB labeling minor league players as "short-term seasonal apprentices" is still all over all the other talking points.
We won't get to see the natural arc of Tyler Flowers' resurgent season with the Braves. He had fractured a bone in his hand with an HBP on July 1, and he aggravated it with a checked swing during Saturday's game against the White Sox. He's out for six weeks, so apparently A.J. Pierzynski will take back the starting job in what could be his swan song.
This story reminded me of a couple other stories I saw about former Sox from the end of the first half...
Marcus Semien started all of Oakland's 89 games during the first half and hit 19 homers despite playing through a sore right shoulder. That's a 34-homer pace, which along with an aversion to doubles and a fair share of strikeouts give him a surprisingly similar profile to that of Todd Frazier.
- Semien: .242/.307/.477, 11 2B, 19 HR, 29 BB, 78 K, 109 OPS+
- Frazier: .213/.305/.476, 9 2B, 25 HR, 40 BB, 85 K, 110 OPS+
Semien's development is ultimately a plus for the Sox' amateur scouting and development, even if the trade is less than flattering to other aspects of the organization. They identified his talent in the sixth round, and he hasn't spent a day in the minors since leaving the Sox, so the organization can say they provided him the tools. Semien and Oakland's staff have done a great job in refining them. Now I want to see whether Semien's shoulder soreness means he actually isn't playing over his head at all.
Semien's teammate at Cal, Erik Johnson hasn't experienced the same kind of boost from returning to the West Coast. Instead, he's on the disabled list for several weeks with a flexor muscle strain in his elbow. He said he felt discomfort in his elbow during the final inning of his last start, but it looked no different from his other ones. His consistency is kinda impressive.