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Brantley singles, drives in run as AL wins again

By PAUL HOYNES • Jul 18, 2018 at 1:15 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tony Clark and Rob Manfred, who have opposing views on so many subjects, can agree on one thing — the talent in the big leagues is overflowing.

That was on display Tuesday night at Nationals Park for the 89th All-Star Game. The American League beat the National League, 8-6, in 10 innings on consecutive homers by Houston teammates Alex Bregman and George Springer and a sacrifice fly by Michael Brantley of the Indians.

The game featured an All-Star record 10 homers, five by each team. Cincinnati's Joey Votto started the 10th with the final homer of the game, but Toronto's J.A. Happ got through the rest of the inning without incident for the save.

The core of the debate between Clark and Manfred is how to best use the talent they see every day to help cure the problems that continue to dog the game.

Clark and Manfred, hours before the All-Star Game, said they liked the emotion (read: talent) Bryce Harper showed in winning the Home Run Derby on Monday night in front of his home crowd. The buttoned-down Manfred, baseball's commissioner, even cracked a smile over Harper's attire — a bat bearing the markings of the American flag, a red and white headband and red, white and blue elastic sleeve on his right arm.

Yes, MLB just may tell the fashion police to take a step back ... and wouldn't Mike Clevinger be happy about that? But, of course, Manfred added that the players had agreed to what a big-league uniform is supposed to look like in the latest basic agreement.

The two men talked about rule changes in the game - the slide rule into second base, the slide rule into home plate and instant replay.

It's clear that Manfred wants more changes and has the power to make them. A game with more strikeouts than hits and too much dead time worries him. Ditto for the shift.

Attendance is down about 5 percent. Manfred blames it on the cold weather in April and May, but it's nothing a pitch clock wouldn't cure, right?

Clark is the players' spokesman. It's clear they've told him that they are not in favor of rapid-fire changes. Clark says he doesn't want fans coming to the park and not recognizing the game they grew up watching.

He says the players are the stewards of the game. He says they are the ones who have to live with the changes being - some would say - forced upon them. Clark borrowed a line from Tribe manager Terry Francona when he talked about the "unintended consequences" of making too many changes in the game.

Instant replay, for instance, has made the dirt-kicking manager a thing of the past. There's nothing for them to argue about anymore.

There's still emotion and passion. If you need to be convinced of that just watch Francisco Lindor play or Jose Ramirez dive headfirst into home plate on a close play. But managers pretty much have become silent entities that sit in the dugout and tell the bench coach when to put on a double steal.

The only time you see most of them is when they come to the top step of the dugout and tell the umpires they want a play reviewed.

It seems the only thing Manfred and Clark could agree on was that they both like passionate players. On everything else, it was one saying night and the other saying day.

Clark said when he talks to players they are more and more in favor of having the the DH in both leagues. Recently Manfred was talking along the some lines. But on Tuesday afternoon he told the Baseball Writers Association of America at its All-Star luncheon that he did not see anything changing with the DH.

He said he was not in favor of seeing a brand of baseball — one of the few left that still lets the pitcher hit — become extinct. That would be extinct like the Dodo Bird, a flightless bird that resembles a pitcher with a bat in his hands unless we're talking about CC Sabathia.

The Indians brought six players to the All-Star Game. It took the PA announcer about 10 minutes to announce five of them as they lined up shoulder to shoulder along the third baseline with the rest of the AL reserves. Ramirez, who started at third, got his own introduction.

Ramirez, who went 2-for-2 in his first All-Star Game, went 0-for-2 Tuesday. Brantley, Lindor and Yan Gomes entered the game in the sixth. Brantley had a bloop single in the seventh for the second All-Star hit of his career. His sacrifice fly in the 10th made it 8-5.

Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer did not pitch in the game. Bauer, who threw seven innings Sunday, did warm up in the 10th inning.

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