Like other curmudgeon baseball traditionalists, I'm supposed to loathe the home run derby. I confess that I found the event entertaining Monday night.
Watching Vladimir Guerrero Jr. crush home runs like a kid playing with a wiffle ball in the back yard was fun. So was Atlanta favorite Ronald Acuna Jr. swatting dingers to all fields. Sweet to see Braves manager Brian Snitker congratulate his young star on his thrilling performance.
Joc Pederson's interactions with his brother Champ were touching, as was the Paul Bunyan perseverance of the Mets' Pete Alonso, the eventual winner.
Now, the All-Star game, an anachronism in today's sports environment. I never watch the entire All-Star Game anymore, but my heart always stirs when the teams are announced at the start of the game and line up on the baselines.
When I was a kid, players like Willie Mays, Henry Aaron and Mickey Mantle tipped their hats to the crowd. The lineups changed, generation by generation. Over the years, I've witnessed the baseball life cycle spin out over and over.
Although the game's popularity has plummeted, it has a new infusion of young talent. Tonight, kids like Acuna and Alonso will take the field with established stars like Christian Yelich, Freddie Freeman and Mike Trout. Players heading toward the end of their careers, like American League starter Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw, will also appear.
The All-Star game has fewer older players these days. Hunter Pence would have been the type, but he's injured, replaced by the Red Sox' s Xander Bogaerts.
Too bad guys like the Braves' Brian McCann aren't having good enough years to be playing. I'd like to see a few more veterans, along with the youngsters. The baseball life cycle is turning faster these days.