As Derek Sanderson
Not contrived. Not manufactured. Not choreographed by a video board operator with his button on the oversized clapping hands, or by event planners with a budget fit for a royal wedding.
There will be time for all of that. The
"That was much better," Jeter said, "than if there was something that was scripted."
Jeter gets it. He gathered the players on the
Trout gets it too. "We should be thanking him," Trout said, "for what he brings to the game."
When the AL took the field,
Jeter doubled, matching his total of extra-base hits this month. Not long after, Wainwright told reporters he had given Jeter "a couple of pipe shots" — that is, grooved a couple of pitches.
That is a proud baseball tribute. Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, a Twins icon, grooved a batting practice fastball to Brian Downing in what was the final at-bat of Downing's 20-year career. Downing slapped a single, left for a pinch-runner, then rode off into retirement on his motorcycle.
This is an exhibition game.
Wainwright later said he "misspoke" and called himself an "idiot" for suggesting he grooved pitches to Jeter.
"If he grooved it, thank you," Jeter said, offering yet another lesson in defusing controversy. "I appreciate it."
In the fourth inning, after Jeter had taken the field, AL Manager
"It was a special moment," Jeter said, "and it was unscripted."
We were taken aback, too, when Jeter got two hits and Trout still was selected as the game's most valuable player. But Trout deserved it, and it certainly fit the designated story line, the passing of the torch from Jeter to the kid who grew up with Jeter posters on his bedroom walls.
"Let Mike be Mike," Jeter said. "I don't think people have to necessarily appoint someone to a particular position."
Trout is the second-youngest player to win All-Star MVP, behind
Jeter will retire with 27 All-Star at-bats and 13 hits, a .481 average. He left behind that standard for Trout, but not before a good ribbing. When Trout came out of the game in the sixth inning, Jeter asked him why a 22-year-old could not handle all nine innings.
"He was messing around with me," Trout said. "It's all for fun. It's special for me. Chills, goose bumps, you name it. Everything was running through my body."
Here's looking forward to the kid who says that about Trout at the 2031 All-Star game.