All-Star Week is a heralded time for baseball fans, showcasing the best and brightest of what baseball has to offer for the entire world. It’s a time for existing fans to celebrate and for prospective baseball fans to get a glimpse at what awaits them. Although the game this year was on July 13, baseball teams get a full four or five days off.
The festivities began on July 11 with the All-Star Futures Game, an event showcasing the next stars of the baseball world. Every team is represented with their best and brightest up-and-comers. The Seattle Mariners sent two names familiar to Seattle baseball fans: Jarred Kelenic (number 4 overall prospect) and Julio Rodríguez (number 5 overall prospect). Kelenic even saw a brief stint with the major league team earlier this year. The two went a combined 0-4 in an 8-3 wash by the National League prospects. The Chicago Cubs’ Brennen Davis won the Larry Doby MVP award of the game with two home runs.
Another notable event on July 11: The MLB Draft. Teams place their bets on who will be ready to take over the league from the college and high school scenes. There were 20 rounds, but in summary, the Mariners picked up two catchers, two pitchers and a shortstop over the first five rounds. Notably, the Los Angeles Angels, in 20 picks, drafted 20 pitchers. All picks were college students, except for one high schooler.
With the All-Star Game still 24 hours away, the Home Run Derby stole the show on July 12. It had everything from nail-biting rounds to emotional storylines. Baltimore’s Trey Mancini took a narrow 24-23 win over Oakland’s Matt Olson in the first round in an upset that had fans ecstatic. Mancini had recovered from cancer and took the 2020 season off, but returned and captivated the fans from the get-go. Hometown Colorado’s Trevor Story took a 20-19 win over Texas’ Joey Gallo, but Gallo kept it fresh with an amazing string of home runs in his final minute to make it that close.
It was the Mets’ Pete Alonso who stole the show that day, putting up an astounding 35 home runs to take a victory against Kansas City’s Salvador Perez (who still hit 28 himself). Everyone held their breath for Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani in his first round against the Nationals’ Juan Soto, who pulled off a stunning double-overtime 31-28 victory.
Mancini beat Story 13-12 in the semi-finals, while Alonso unsurprisingly joined him after beating Soto 16-15. Then, in the final moments of the finals, Alonso clobbered six consecutive home runs to take the victory and defend his title as the Home Run Derby champion.
The All-Star game on July 13 capped off an All-Star Week to remember. Ohtani had the luxury of being both the starting pitcher and leadoff hitter for the American League, although he did very little at the plate. No, it was Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who stole the show. His 468-foot home run put the American League up 2-0 in the eventual 5-2 victory and earned him the MVP for the game. Ohtani got himself the win, pitching one scoreless in the first inning. Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes took the loss, pitching the second and third innings, allowing two runs on four hits. The White Sox’s Liam Hendriks got to curse on national television during his save because Fox made the poor decision to mic him up.
The 2021 All-Star Week highlighted the young, exciting stars of baseball in the most memorable ways in recent history. It was proof that we are living in an exciting era of baseball where players like Guerrero, Ohtani, Alonso, Perez and many others will dominate the MLB for years to come.