WASHINGTON D.C. — The baseball world had its eyes fixated on Manny Machado and he seized the moment with the type of the social-media savvy his generation knows best.
At Tuesday night’s MLB All-Star Game at Nationals Park, the question that was bigger than the game itself was what would happen with Machado — the for-now Baltimore Orioles All-Star shortstop and probably-soon-to-be Los Angeles Dodger. So when the opportunity presented itself to pour some gas on those trade rumors, Machado pulled out his phone and snapped away.
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp hit a double in the second inning, then Machado scootered over to second base, whipped out his phone and snapped a selfie with Kemp. If there was a moment that summed up the 2018 All-Star Game it wasn’t the extra-innings American League win or all those homers, it was Manny Machado showing off how strong his selfie game is.
Maybe this was the obvious result of last year’s All-Star Game, at which Nelson Cruz paused the action to take a selfie with umpire Joe West and the baseball-loving world pondered the possibility of an All-Star Game that’s strictly an exhibition. Last season was the first time the All-Star Game didn’t determine home-field advantage in the World Series, and so began an era of personality, fun and — as it turns out — a lot more selfies. Because it was hardly just Machado.
This year, Major League Baseball worked closely with players and the players’ union to relax rules regarding the use of cell phones on the field in hopes that it would encourage them to share their points of views and All-Star experiences.
“I was talking to [Mookie] Betts and [Aaron] Judge, it’s a pitching change and we’re out there taking selfies and talking to the fans,” said Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout. “When they’re introductions, going live on social media. I think fans want to see that.”
Among the things we saw:
• The aforementioned Trout selfie with fellow AL outfielders Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts. You can tell it’s in-game because Judge has dirt on his jersey.
Always something special #AllStarGame
Thank you for the hospitality DC!!! pic.twitter.com/F43MN0dZLQ
— Mike Trout (@MikeTrout) July 18, 2018
• Justin Verlander calling Judge’s homer on Instagram live:
Greatest prediction in ASG history? pic.twitter.com/pNye6NeBq0
— Cut4 (@Cut4) July 18, 2018
• Luis Severino taking an on-field selfie with Machado, Jose Altuve, Jose Abreu and Jose Ramirez.
“I love it,” Altuve said. “Every single player was taking selfies. I’m really happy they let us do that this year.”
MLB has happy with the results too.
“We were thrilled to see the greatest players in our game use their mobile devices tonight to share their All-Star experience with the world,” Barbara McHugh, MLB’s Sr. Vice President, Marketing told Yahoo Sports. “Fans love seeing the personalities of their favorite players come to life and tonight they were treated to just that.”
Perhaps the strongest endorsement of the night, though, came from Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who managed this selfie-snapping AL All-Star team and is smart enough to see what things like this mean for baseball’s image.
“There’s a ton of personality in our game, and sometimes our sport gets a little bit of a side-swipe at us, that we are this boring sport that methodically goes through the games,” Hinch said. “And yet if you see — if you allow the players to be themselves and you allow them to showcase themselves, this is the biggest showcase event, especially since the game competition side of it hasn’t mattered for a few years. You’re amazed what you find out about these guys.”
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