Sports, Thrill of Victory

MLB Midsummer Classic will have distinct Mid-state feel

The Major League Baseball season has reached its halfway point, and with that means the annual All-Star game. This year’s game is taking place at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, and aside from MLB’s ridiculous assertion to pin home field advantage of the World Series to an exhibition game, the night should be filled with excitement – especially for fans from the Nashville area.

Smyrna native and Oakland Athletics' pitcher Sonny Gray is a first-time MLB All-Star. PHOTO COURTESY MLB

Smyrna native and Oakland Athletics’ pitcher Sonny Gray is a first-time MLB All-Star. PHOTO COURTESY MLB

A pair of American League pitchers who grew up in the Nashville area and then played collegiate ball at Vanderbilt, Sonny Gray and David Price, will be taking the mound in Cincinnati. For Gray, this will be his first appearance in the Midsummer Classic, while the veteran Price has become a staple in the game in which he will be appearing for a fifth time.

Gray pitched for his Oakland A’s last night, tossing 107 pitches in a 2-0 shutout that moved his record to 10-3 on the year. With the All-Star game being played Tuesday night, I wouldn’t expect to see a whole lot of Gray – if at all – given he’ll be on only two days’ rest. On the year Gray has certainly earned his way in the conversation among the MLB’s elite pitchers. He leads the A’s in wins, ERA and strikeouts by a wide margin and ranks among the MLB’s leaders in each category as well.

However, National League batters could see a heavy dose of Price. His last appearance for the Detroit Tigers was last Thursday (A 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins), and with the break he is not slated to be back on the mound for Detroit until Saturday vs. Baltimore.

Murfreesboro native and Detroit Tigers ace David Price will make his fifth MLB All-Star appearance. PHOTO COURTESY MLB

Murfreesboro native and Detroit Tigers ace David Price will make his fifth MLB All-Star appearance. PHOTO COURTESY MLB

Familiar faces in the All-Star game won’t be limited to local Vandy alums though; a pair of players who spent the early part of their careers at Greer Stadium with the Nashville Sounds will also be making an appearance. The Milwaukee Brewers Ryan Braun returns to the game for the National League after having made five consecutive appearances from 2008-2012. That was of course prior to his well-publicized Performance Enhancing Drug suspension and thumb injury. The Braun that returned from those set backs and time off has been on a mission to regain a spot among the game’s elite and his return to the All-Star is a big indication he has.

Also on the field for the National League will be another familiar face from his days with the Sounds, Prince Fielder. This will be Fielder’s sixth appearance in the All-Star game, however this might be his most impressive selection yet as it comes after the worst season of his career in 2014.

Tomorrow night’s All-Star game starts at 6:00 p.m. and will be shown on FOX. The festivities begin tonight with the annual Home Run Derby. This year’s event will use a new bracket format over three rounds with the top eight seeds squaring off against each other – including Fielder.

The MLB’s All-Stars aren’t the only ones on display in Cincinnati either. The top prospects of the Minor League ranks also played their version of the All-Star game, called the Futures Game, Sunday and a pair of Vanderbilt alums, Tony Kemp and Tyler Beede played for the American team. Kemp scored a run in the game to help the Americans pull out a 10-1 win.