WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on baseball’s All-Star Game (all times local):
A combat medic who received the Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam has thrown out the ceremonial first pitch for the All-Star Game at Nationals Park.
James McCloughan was one of 30 Medal of Honor recipients to be honored before the game. After serving in Vietnam, McCloughan spent 38 years as a high school baseball coach in Michigan.
In choosing McCloughan, Major League Baseball stayed away from political controversy during the first All-Star game in 49 years in Washington. President Donald Trump did not attend the game a day after he drew bipartisan criticism for siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy threw out the first pitch at All-Star games in Washington during their terms. Dwight D. Eisenhower declined because he was recovering from surgery, while Richard M. Nixon had to delegate the responsibility to Vice President Spiro Agnew because the 1969 game was postponed one day by rain.
Some Cubs fans – and gamblers – are claiming on social media that Bryce Harper “cheated” during the Home Run Derby to beat Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber.
Harper hit 19 homers in the final round of Monday night’s competition at Nationals Park to beat Schwarber by one. Hitting in front his hometown fans with his father pitching, Harper appeared to be running out of time to catch the Cubs slugger before he hit nine homers in his final 10 swings to tie him. Because he hit two homers over 440 feet in the round, Harper earned 30 seconds of extra time that he used to hit the decisive long ball.
The competition rules state that the pitcher has to wait until the previous ball has landed before throwing another one. Video from the event shows Harper’s father, Ron, apparently breaking that rule. Umpires on the field did not intervene.
But that didn’t stop Cubs fans from complaining that Harper cheated or that the event was rigged. The result was also bitter for bettors who put money on Schwarber to win, a population that has increased with expanded legal sports gambling in the United States.
Severe thunderstorms that blew through Washington in the afternoon soaked the field at Nationals Park, but players hope the conditions are safe and playable for the All-Star Game.
The rain stopped in time for the NL and AL to take abbreviated batting practice
“You have to deal with elements,” NL starter Max Scherzer of the host Nationals said. “You have to pitch when it’s cold, you have to pitch when it’s hot, when it’s windy, when it’s rainy. This is just another element of baseball that a pitcher just has to deal with.”
With the storms over, there was not much concern about delaying or postponing the game as much as how the water on the field could affect play. Nearby Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport took more than 2 inches of rain, and there was standing water in the NL dugout.
“Hopefully it’s dry and everybody’s safe and nobody gets injury,” Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz said. “That’s the goal.”
If Manny Machado is heading to Los Angeles, the Dodgers would be thrilled to have him.
USA Today reported Tuesday that the Orioles were expected to trade their All-Star shortstop to the Dodgers on Wednesday, barring a last-minute snag. Machado says he hasn’t heard anything from his agent and he refused to answer a hypothetical question about going to the Dodgers.
Dodgers right-hander Ross Stripling says: “Things are getting serious now. That’s the kind of bat and the kind of player that you want in your lineup.”
Stripling says it’s good to be on a team that’s buying instead of selling at the trade deadline. He also credited the Dodgers for making midseason moves while hanging onto big league-ready prospects.
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp says he’s good friends with Machado but hasn’t heard anything. He says Machado would bring excitement to LA.
Cubs pitcher Jon Lester and Reds first baseman Joey Votto believe this offseason will be a test of whether last year’s free agent situation was a one-off or cause for concern.
Tony Clark, the head of the baseball players’ union, said earlier Tuesday he’d like to talk to the league about free agency after so many players were left unsigned for months last winter.
Lester said that with the free agent class that could be available – including Bryce Harper and Manny Machado – if the same situation occurs, it would present a problem.
With Clark broaching the possibility of a 2021 labor struggle, Votto told The Associated Press that previous generations of players set up the current tug of war between the sides, which he thinks is healthy for the game.
With trade rumors swirling, Manny Machado made a fashion statement as he arrived at Nationals Park for the All-Star Game.
Machado wore a gray double-breasted suit with no shirt underneath the jacket and an inch-wide gold chain during a red carpet interview with MLB Network. He sported bare ankles, white sneakers and tortoiseshell sunglasses.
As for where he’ll play next, Machado doesn’t know. He says it’s “tough” to think that the All-Star Game could be his last in a Baltimore Orioles uniform. But he also says he’s “blessed to be talked about. Blessed to know that people out there want me, they want me to go out there and help (the) team win.”
Machado played third base before this season, when he moved to shortstop, the position he’d played in childhood and throughout the minor leagues. He thinks he’d stay at short for any team that trades for him and says he would prefer not to move back to third.
The tarp is on the field and early arriving fans are seeking cover or wearing ponchos as a summer thunderstorm rolls through downtown Washington ahead of the All-Star Game.
Heavy rain and lightning started shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday at Nationals Park and were predicted to continue into the early evening. But if the forecast holds, it should be clear by the first pitch, which is scheduled for 8:18 p.m.
The last All-Star Game to be postponed by rain was the last one in Washington, 49 years ago. It was rescheduled for the next day and President Richard Nixon had to delegate first-pitch duties to Vice President Spiro Agnew.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is outlining concerns in the way the sport has changed and says owners want a broad conversation with players about rules changes.
Manfred says concerns include the time between putting balls in play, the increased number of strikeouts, an increase in home runs, the far greater use of infield shifts, the lessened length of starting pitcher outings and the increase in the use of relief pitchers.
He maintains the changes are the result of “smart people who want to win more” in front offices and says MLB and the players must decide “at what point do we want to step in, OK, and manage that organic change.”
Manfred says “this organic change may be driven by competition, but there’s lots of places in life where competition has to be bridled a little bit.”
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is defending teams’ reluctance to sign free agents last offseason and says union head Tony Clark has not responded to a pair of invitations to have a broad discussion about players’ concerns and changes in the way the game is played.
Manfred says “the only purposeful behavior that took place in the free-agent market last year is our clubs carefully analyzed the available players and made individual decisions as to what they thought those players were worth. … I’m pretty sure, based on what’s already in the books, you’re going to make the judgment that the clubs made sound decisions as to how those players should be valued. That’s how markets operate.
Players consider teams’ reluctance to sign free agents last offseason “a direct attack” on their rights, according to union head Tony Clark. He hinted that the sport’s quarter-century of labor peace could end if concerns are not addressed.
More than 100 free agents remained unsigned when spring training began. Many signed at a fraction of the price they thought they were worth and many received shorter deals than they expected.
Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1966-95 but has had labor peace since. The current labor contract runs through the 2021 season.
Asked whether he thought there could be a work stoppage at the end of the deal if players’ concerns are not addressed, Clark says that, “to the extent there are challenges to those rights, historically I would suggest those have manifested themselves a particular way.”
The head of the baseball players’ union favors expanding the wild-card playoff from one game to a series, but he says there are scheduling challenges.
Major League Baseball began winner-take-all, one-game playoffs in each league in 2012, when the postseason field was expanded from eight to 10.
In the AL East this year, the New York Yankees could wind up as a wild card with a record that currently projects to 106 wins.
Union head Tony Clark says “having series is always … better for a player in a lot of ways than a one-game playoff” and adds “it would be great if we can find a way in the future to have that first game be a series, but there are some challenges there.”
The schedule currently starts in the last week of March or the first week of April, and the World Series sometimes ends in November. But, the division winners might not like having an extended break before the playoffs.
The head of the baseball players’ union says conversations will take place with the commissioner’s office over whether prohibitions against legalized gambling among his members’ relatives may be needed.
Following a U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down a federal prohibition on sports gambling, New Jersey enacted a law allowing bets on games. Team employees including players are prohibited under baseball rules from betting on the sport, but there are no rules covering their families.
Union head Tony Clark said there will a wide discussion with management about legalized gambling that will include talk of “six degrees of separation” and where lines should be drawn. Clark also is concerned about player data in relation to gambling.
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