The 2017 MLB All-Star Game is full of first-timers and that is great for baseball
Of the 68 players named to the All-Star Game, 28 were first-timers this season
MIAMI -- One of the themes of the 2017 All-Star Game, at least to this scribe, is how many players have made the game for the first time. Of the 68 players who made either team, 28 have never been before. Sure, there are always first-time All-Stars, but that's a pretty large number. Especially in looking at the AL starting lineup, it gets a bit glaring. Six of the nine AL starters are first-time All-Stars ().
That's pretty fun, no?
Something many don't realize about the players selected to the All-Star Game is just how crazy their schedules are. They generally get in Sunday night or even in the middle of the night or early Monday morning. Then they have media day, where they sit at a table and answer questions from annoying media folk like myself for a half hour. They then have an on-field workout for the fans followed by the Home Run Derby.
On Tuesday, there's a red carpet parade around the host city before they head straight to the ballpark. Then they switch in and out of their team uniforms and All-Star uniforms for several on-field team pictures before batting practice and the All-Star Game, after which they immediately head to the airport and fly out.
By no means would anyone ever complain, but it's gotta be a whirlwind for first-timers. And, oh by the way, it's also a dream come true to be a MLB All-Star.
"It's a pretty unreal feeling, just being here, meeting some of the guys that I've obviously played against, shaking their hand, hanging out a bit," said Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Jake Lamb . "It's a pretty awesome experience. I just wanna let this soak in and appreciate it for what it is."
That was a common sentiment, wanting to let it soak in.
"It's an incredible experience to be here and be the starting shortstop for the American League, it's special," said Houston Astros youngster Carlos Correa .
"I'm definitely enjoying it," said New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto . "It's all brand new to me. Being around these guys is pretty awesome. It's a dream come true. To be amongst these players, it's pretty special for me."
It's not all young players here for the first time. Some veterans said they reflected upon the roundabout way they got here, like Jason Vargas and Zack Cozart .
"At this point in my career, I'm 31 years old and had a bad knee injury two years ago, to be physically back and playing like I am right now, it feels really good that the hard work has paid off," Cincinnati Reds shortstop Cozart said.
Still, most of the new guys on the block here are youngsters.
"I saw a tweet yesterday about the number of first-time All-Stars and it just speaks to how much talent there is in the game today," said Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood . "There are so many good, young players and there are a lot of those good, young players who still aren't even here right now. It's pretty neat and it goes to show that baseball is in good hands for a long time."
A dream come true with a whirlwind attached, many turned to veterans of the process to see what to expect.
Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak said he spoke with Jose Bautista . Lamb and Robbie Ray mentioned Diamondbacks teammate and All-Star fixture Paul Goldschmidt .
"I talked to Ryan Braun and Stephen Vogt ," said Milwaukee Brewers closer Corey Knebel . "Basically all they said was get everything out of the way at the beginning and then enjoy it. Have fun. I'm just enjoying it right now."
Astros reliever Chris Devenski said he talked to fellow reliever Will Harris , who made the 2016 All-Star team. Oh, and of course: "Just being around Jose [Altuve] is really good because he knows his way around."
In all, it is really cool to see so many players here for the first time. Good for them.
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