The Dodgers had three players in the All-Star game, another in the home run derby, and Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner watching from home.
Manny Machado, come on down!
The Dodgers have the best record in the National League over the past two months, with Chris Taylor playing a perfectly fine shortstop in place of the injured Corey Seager. The Dodgers blitzed the Chicago Cubs to advance to the World Series last year, and the ace of the Cubs stood before his All-Star locker Tuesday and pondered the addition of a stud shortstop to the Dodgers’ star-studded roster.
“That’s kind of the fantasy football question,” Jon Lester said. “If you had these guys on your team, what would you do?”
On the day of the All-Star game, the Dodgers’ all-but-done acquisition of Machado was a hotter topic than the game itself. Machado spoke politely but wearily to a pack of reporters before the game — 70 seconds in Spanish, 90 seconds in English — but gleefully whipped out a cell phone and snapped a picture with Matt Kemp at second base during the game.
Machado grinned. Kemp busted up laughing. Then again, Kemp had been laughing all day, particularly when a reporter asked if he admired Machado.
“I think he’s a horrible baseball player,” Kemp said of his friend and former workout partner, smiling widely as the crowd surrounding him cracked up. “Write it down. He’s horrible.”
Machado was long gone by the time the American League won, 8-6, in 10 innings. The Angels’ Mike Trout hit a home run — one of a record 10 in the game — to lift his career All-Star batting average to .467.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen did not pitch. The Dodgers told him he would rest through the break, a decision with which Jansen said he agreed.
“I think I’ll look back and think it was pretty (lousy),” he said of his first All-Star experience. “It was fun being in this group with these kind of guys, but it (stinks) to have it end like that. That’s what they’ll remember and that’s what I’ll remember, so I’m (ticked) about it.”
The Dodgers might lead the Arizona Diamondbacks by a mere half-game in the NL West, but Stripling sounded as giddy before the game as he might have been if his team had just clinched its sixth consecutive division championship. Then again, maybe it had.
“The Diamondbacks went and got arguably the best hitter in the game in J.D. Martinez last year, made a good run in September, but we still won,” Stripling said. “Now we’re going to turn around and maybe do it to them, and get arguably one of the best hitters in the game and put him right in the middle of our lineup.”
If the trade is finalized, Stripling already has his adjective selected for the Diamondbacks.
“I think it would be pretty demoralizing,” Stripling said, “something they would see and say, ‘Oh crap, that’s not going to be any fun.’ You’ve got to deal with Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta [Maeda] on the mound, and now you’ve got to deal with Justin Turner, Matt Kemp, Max Muncy, Machado, etc.
“That’s almost a superteam, I feel like, on paper.”
No one in a rival uniform went so far as to concede the division, or the league, to the Dodgers. But no one attempted to downplay Machado’s impact, either.
“He would be an impact player for any team,” San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford said. “He’s one of the best players in the game. Any team that gets him will get an immediate impact.”
And the Dodgers as that team?
“They’re already the team to beat,” he said.
Kemp seconded that, calling Machado “one of my favorite players in the world.” The two are so close, Kemp said, that Machado surely would have texted him if the trade truly were complete.
“I’m pretty sure he would,” Kemp said. “Let me check my phone.”
Nothing from Machado, at least not by 4:30 p.m. But, text or no, Kemp said Machado would make himself at home in Los Angeles.
“Did you see what he was wearing on the red carpet?” Kemp said. “That’s Hollywood right there. That’s super Hollywood. That fits. So he already has the style down.”
Machado wore a suit jacket, with no shirt beneath it. Perhaps he can have a red carpet face-off with L.A.’s other new star, LeBron James, who wore a suit jacket and shorts to the NBA Finals.
“LeBron and Machado?” Kemp said. “That would be a big couple weeks in L.A.”
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin