It has been 372 days since Coors Field hosted the 91st rendition of the MLB All-Star Game.
The time has come to continue the tradition, and Dodger Stadium is hours away from hosting act number 92.
Hosting duties for Dodger faithful have been more anticipated than perhaps any All-Star Game prior, but the post-COVID bar was set in Colorado — where anticipation soared with little advance warning.
The 2020 All-Star Game was originally cued for Los Angeles, surrendered only at the hands of COVID-19. The Dodgers were officially announced as the 2020 host in April 2018, allowing them a 27-month period of advanced planning had the game been played as scheduled. With respect to Dodger Stadium’s two year hosting delay, that means 51 months — more than 1,500 days — have passed since L.A.’s initial hosting bid was accepted.
Coors Field had 98 days from official announcement to All-Star first pitch.
Due to COVID, there was no blueprint from the year before.
On April 2, 2021, Major League Baseball ordered the Atlanta Braves and Truist Park to surrender hosting rights for that year, citing controversial voting legislation passed in the state of Georgia. The decision to pull out of Atlanta came just three months prior to the 2021 game itself, and early betting lines favored Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Milwaukee’s American Family Field, or Denver’s Coors Field as the inevitable replacement. Four days later, on April 6, a decision was made.
There was advanced structure, at least — Colorado had submitted a proposal to host an upcoming All-Star Game — but the decision to expedite the process meant the whole city of Denver would run ablaze with hosting strategy. There was no mild kindling of a slow look ahead, as many Rockies fans can animately attest.
49,184 fans gathered at the corner of 20th and Blake on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, witnessing the first All-Star Game in the Mountain time zone since the Arizona Diamondbacks hosted one decade prior.
Our attention now turns to the Pacific time zone; first pitch commences around three hours before the Los Angeles sun will set. A sellout crowd of approximately 56,000 fans is expected inside Southern California’s Chavez Ravine.
The hosting torch will complete a 829-mile trek across the Rocky Mountains and the San Andreas Fault, and as the stage is set in a new ballpark, Rockies fans everywhere will reminisce on one of Colorado’s most unforgettable baseball events.
Play Ball: All-Star Lineups and Landscape
Of the 20 starters in the 2021 game, only four of them have been named All-Star starters in consecutive seasons. All four of those players are the first four hitters in this year’s American League lineup:
The 2021 contest was headlined by the starting pitcher/leadoff hitter combo of Shohei Ohtani, making his first-career All-Star appearance unlike any player before. Coors Field welcomed back NL three-hitter Nolan Arenado with thunderous applause, a perhaps-honorary Rockie in an otherwise Colorado-absent starting lineup.
Also of note: The likely NL starter of the 2021 contest was Jacob deGrom, but he elected to skip the All-Star Game after missing select starts in the first half of 2021. This opened the door for NL/Rays manager Kevin Cash to award the honor to Max Scherzer, weeks before his eventual departure to the Dodgers (and another departure last winter to deGrom’s Mets).
There was no hometown welcome for Rockies players in the 2021 starting lineup, but in 2022, Dodgers fans will have both Mookie Betts and Trea Turner represented in the NL’s first five hitters. This ovation pales in comparison to an all-time franchise symbol taking the field in the top of the first, however:
(That’s right. Joc Pederson, returning to L.A. in San Francisco orange.)
Clayton Kershaw, a nine-time All-Star and all-but-elected Hall of Famer, has seen the festivities of the midsummer classic in Phoenix, Kansas City, New York (NL), Minneapolis, Cincinnati, San Diego, and most recently Cleveland in 2019. Never before has Kershaw actually started an All-Star Game, however, a streak that may have continued if the 2022 game wasn’t at Dodger Stadium. Miami’s Sandy Alcantara was an extreme candidate for the start, but the Marlins will instead miss out on the opportunity in place of the storied Dodgers narrative.
(AL/NL crossover aside: What if an Angels starter took away Ubaldo Jiménez’s start in 2010?)
Alcantara will likely pitch around the same time that 2021 featured Germán Márquez (assuming Kershaw gives the hometown crowd multiple innings).
Akin to the 2021 contest, there will again be one single player from the Colorado Rockies suiting up in 2022. C.J. Cron has earned his way in with a .298/.350/.552 batting slash and 21 home runs. He is on pace to post an OPS above .900 for just the second time in his nine-year career.
Despite the elevation advantages that exist in Colorado, Cron will look to showcase his power in an environment that has actually played better for dingers than Coors Field over the past three seasons (per Baseball Savant park factors).
Review and Reminisce
Enjoy this thing, with Colorado memories fresh in your mind.
Denver can await hosting duties again in another 29 years or so, and each All-Star Game until then will come with the memories, recollection and celebration of 2021. The minds of Rockies fans are understandably filled with Denver-favored bias, but an open mind toward a great event will ensure this event is rightfully celebrated — and joyously passed on.
92nd MLB All-Star Game - Dodger Stadium
First Pitch: 6:00 p.m. MDT
Radio: ESPN Radio
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Here we have a direct analysis on the entire festivities of All-Star Week, comparing L.A.’s hosting duties with the ones we saw in Denver. The area surrounding Coors Field and Dodger Stadium is far different, and each All-Star event can take on a different feel based on ballpark design alone.
Much like our own draft recaps at Purple Row, our friends at Rox Pile put together a comprehensive writeup on Colorado’s top selections. Noah Yingling includes some direct quotes from first-rounder Gabriel Hughes on this one, with further details on his familiarity to pitching at elevation.
★ ★ ★
On The Farm
All affiliates off until Friday, July 22
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