Jersey Boys take center stage at All-Star Game
CINCINNATI (AP) — As the Jersey Boys prepared to jet home from the All-Star Game for two days of R&R, Todd Frazier knew who was covering the cost of the charter flight, and it wasn’t him.
That honor, like many others these days, goes to Mike Trout.
"Oh, he’s definitely paying," Frazier said. "Two MVPs — for sure."
Trout became the first player in 38 years to homer leading off an All-Star Game, then became the first player to take home the Midsummer Classic’s MVP award in consecutive years.
A new-look All-Star Game finished with the same old result. The AL beat the NL 6-3 on Tuesday night and will open the World Series at home for the 10th time in 13 years.
"It’s obviously a humbling honor with the MVPs," Trout said in his usual understated, aw-shucks manner.
Trout grew up in Millville, New Jersey, about halfway between Philadelphia and Cape May.
Frazier, the Home Run Derby champion for the All-Star host Cincinnati Reds, lives about 90 minutes away in Toms River, on the Jersey shore.
"He called me about a month ago and said, you know, if we’re both in the All-Star Game, if I was getting a jet back home," Trout said after accepting the MVP prize at Great American Ball Park. "Me and Todd, you know, we go back a while. We’re always messing with each other."
Trout predicted "it’s going to be a fun flight home, for sure."
Frazier worried that Trout might need some Zzzs after the big night.
"Hopefully, he doesn’t fall asleep, because I’m going to get him," Frazier said.
On Monday night, Frazier was the center of attention when he beat Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson 15-14 in the final round for the Home Run Derby title.
"I get chills thinking about it," Trout said, "just the way he put on a show last night for his hometown, all the pressure and stuff."
Frazier, the NL’s starting third baseman, was 0 for 3 in the All-Star Game but was still on a high from fan adulation a day earlier.
"It’s tough to even put into words what I was going through yesterday," he said. "Just seeing my family get excited, having my kid on the field, that was one of the best moments I’ve had in baseball."
And then came Trout’s turn in the spotlight.
He sent Zack Greinke’s fourth pitch, a 94 mph fastball on the outer half of the plate, over the wall in right next to the visiting bullpen for an opposite-field homer that completed a career All-Star cycle in just his fifth big league season.
Then Prince Fielder delivered. He drove in two runs, sending Trout blazing home ahead of Pederson’s throw with the run off Clayton Kershaw that put the AL ahead for good.
Playing on the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels, Trout could add an even bigger honor this fall — his first World Series ring.
"He can do anything that anybody can do on a baseball field," AL manager Ned Yost said. "He can hit with power. He can run. He can drive the gap. He’s a great defender. He’s just special. When you look at Mike, you don’t look at a 23-year-old. You look at a guy that is one of the best baseball players on this planet."
A season after the retirement of Derek Jeter dropped the curtain on the turn-of-century greats, Trout was among six starting position players under 25 — the most since 1965. At last year’s game in Minneapolis, he hit a tiebreaking triple and later a go-ahead double.
Winner of his first season AL MVP award in 2014, the center fielder joined Willie Mays, Steve Garvey, Gary Carter and Cal Ripken, Jr. as the only two-time All-Star MVPs.
Pete Rose, Cincinnati’s hometown hero and baseball’s banned career hits leader, was given an 80-second ovation when he walked onto the field before the game to join Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Barry Larkin, elected by fans as the Reds’ greatest players. Bench returned a few minutes later with Hank Aaron, Mays and Sandy Koufax, voted baseball’s greatest living players by fans as part of the promotion.
NL manager Bruce Bochy thought ahead to some future ceremony involving Trout, perhaps at an All-Star Game or World Series, perhaps at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
"He’s going to be standing there, I think, with the guys we saw tonight," Bochy said.