Sights & Sounds from the Midwest League’s Mid-Season Classic

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is commonly referred to as the Midsummer Classic. In the case of the Midwest League, that moniker doesn’t quite work given that the league’s All-Star Game was played Tuesday night, while summer — technically — hasn’t begun yet (although you try telling that to Alice Cooper and kids everywhere).

With that said, the 49th edition of the Midwest League All-Star Game at Fifth Third Field in Dayton was indeed rather “classic,” as the East Division All-Stars won, 6-5, over the West Division All-Stars in walk-off fashion. Maybe the only drawback of being at the game, which featured both great play and great weather, was that it meant you missed most of a truly classic NBA Finals Game 6 between the Heat and Spurs. But then at least you have something in common with Heat fans

Luis Tejada, Dane Phillips, Roman Madrid, and Joe Ross represented the TinCaps together in the 2013 Midwest League All-Star Game.

Luis Tejada, Dane Phillips, Roman Madrid, and Joe Ross together on the field prior to the 2013 Midwest League All-Star Game. A fine representation of talent and character from Fort Wayne.

As we told you Tuesday, the TinCaps had four players make the drive to the Birthplace of Aviation. And although the TinCaps’ players didn’t have the individual performances that Fort Wayne fans have become accustomed to seeing from them so far in 2013, it was still a memorable experience for all involved.

Before Tuesday’s All-Star game, I caught up with all four Fort Wayne representatives. First, here’s a conversation with catcher Dane Phillips and first baseman Luis Tejada.

And here’s a chat with starting pitcher Joe Ross and reliever Roman Madrid.

TINCAPS All-STAR TAKEAWAYS

* As Dane discussed in the interview above, it was cool that his mom (Kay), dad (David), and younger sister (Deanna) got to see him in the All-Star Game after making the 14-hour drive from Nacogdoches, Texas. That’s love. And they’re staying in the Midwest for the week to see #9 at Parkview Field, too.

* Kudos to Luis Tejada for making his TinCaps Podcast Report debut with us. Luis, who’s from Constanza in the Dominican Republic, didn’t come to the United States until last year at the age of 19 when he played in the Arizona League. As someone who’s fluent in only one language and struggles mightily attempting to speak/understand Spanish, even after about five years of taking it, I think Luis’ progress with English is very impressive. Keep it up, Luis! And I’ll be tapping into you for some serious help with my Spanish.

* One of the biggest clichés in sports is mentioning how competitive athletes are, but, that’s exactly what I’ll do right now. The TinCaps All-Stars didn’t perform their best in Dayton. And who cares, right? It was an exhibition. Stats didn’t count. It was supposed to be an off-day anyway. Well, you couldn’t tell that to Luis, Dane, Roman, or Joe, who all were disappointed afterward. If you’re a TinCaps or Padres fan, that’s a good thing. These guys care. Not just about themselves individually, but for the team’s sake. And in this case, it wasn’t even really their team. It was an All-Star squad. Yet they cared. Apologies for the cliché, but it’s no coincidence that Luis, Dane, Roman, and Joe helped lead the TinCaps to the second-winningest first half in Fort Wayne’s 21-year history.

APPRECIATING THE MVP

Devon Travis’ West Michigan teammate Jeff Holm gave him the pie-to-the-face treatment after being named the All-Star Game MVP. (Photo Credit: Nick Falzerano, Midwest League)

You know how in school, there’s always that classmate who says s/he isn’t going to study for the test. “Oh, I’m just hoping to pass. I don’t really care how I do,  as long as I pass,” they say. Then they go out and get the highest grade in the class. Oops. Because even if they try to give off a nonchalant demeanor, they’re not wired like that. Well, I can’t speak to what kind of a student West Michigan’s Devon Travis was (although he was on the ACC-Academic Honor Roll at Florida State, which gives an indication), but the Whitecaps second baseman is apparently that kind of player. At least when it comes to All-Star games.

Travis, who leads the Midwest League in batting with a .350 average, said Monday night that while he was honored to be an All-Star, he really wouldn’t mind a day off. And you can’t blame him for feeling that way in the least bit, because he also leads the league in games played, having sat out in only one of West Michigan’s 70 games in the first half. (The absurd part is that in 69 games played, he’s yet to have consecutive games without a hit.) And if they’re being honest, nearly every All-Star would’ve said the same thing.

But what does the guy who just wishes he could have a day off go and do when he plays? He goes and wins the All-Star Game MVP award after a 2-for-2 night in which he triples and drives in three runs. Might as well have gotten a 100 on a chemistry exam. By the way, Travis does extra credit work, too. So in addition to leading the league in hitting and games played, he also has the best fielding percentage among all second baseman (.982), as he’s committed just six errors in 60 games at the position.

Joking aside, congrats to Devon, who was a pleasure to meet and talk to for a bit.

DAYTON DOES IT “WRIGHT”

In the city where the Wright Brothers flew for the first time, by all accounts, the Dragons pulled off a soaring success in hosting the 2013 Midwest League All-Star Game. From an enjoyable, fan-friendly Block Party on Monday night, to an entertaining Home Run Derby Tuesday, to an All-Star Game with a sell-out crowd won in the bottom of the ninth inning, to the finale of a fun after-party, I had nothing but a positive experience at my first Midwest League Mid-Season Classic.

Here’s a look at some of Tuesday’s fun…

Folks were ready to go inside more than two hours before first pitch. In all, an impressive crowd of 8,746 turned out for the game.

Folks were ready to go inside more than two hours before first pitch. In all, an impressive crowd of 8,746 turned out for the game. Death, taxes, and sellouts at Fifth Third Field.

I don't have much to say about this other than when you see a massive, inflatable dragon, you feel compelled to take a picture.

I don’t have much to say about this other than when you see a massive, inflatable dragon outside of a ballpark, you feel compelled to take a picture.

Jesse Winker of the hometown Dragons led the East to a win in the Home Run Derby. Each division had two sluggers, plus one local little leaguer. Thought that was a fun touch.

Jesse Winker of the hometown Dragons led the East to a win in the Home Run Derby. Each division had two sluggers, plus one local little leaguer. Thought that was a fun touch.

Though not a participant in the Home Run Derby, Luis Tejada momentarily stole the show by bringing out a towel and cup of water to cool off Winker after he knocked a few out. The crowd loved it and laughed out loud.

Though not a participant in the Home Run Derby, Luis Tejada momentarily stole the show by bringing out a towel and cup of water to cool off Winker after he knocked a few out. The crowd loved it and laughed out loud.

Being that the Dragons are an affiliate of the Reds, Cincinnati Hall of Famer Joe Morgan threw out the first pitch. (Photo Credit: David Kohl, USA Today Sports Images)

Found it tacky that as Joe Morgan walked off the field, the P.A. announcer said something along the lines of, “Give a round of applause for Joe Morgan of Joe Morgan Honda.” Can you hashtag a dollar sign?

A beautiful scene for the start of the 49th Midwest League All-Star Game. And do think that most likely a few of the guys standing out there will be MLB All-Stars one day.

A beautiful scene – enhanced even more so by Instagram – for the start of the 49th Midwest League All-Star Game. And to think, most likely, a few of the guys standing out there will be MLB All-Stars one day.

Even if they didn't play their best, still fitting to see the TinCaps' All-Stars get to celebrate another scintillating win. Remember, Fort Wayne had six walk-off wins in the first half.

Even if they didn’t play their best, still fitting to see the TinCaps’ All-Stars get to celebrate another scintillating win. Remember, Fort Wayne had seven walk-off wins in the first half.

MUSICAL GUEST

Is this too obvious a selection, and a song that’s now played too often at arenas and stadiums? Yes, probably. But if you grew up in the 90s, it’s also a song that I bet at one point or another was a fun pump-up. So Smash Mouth… take it away!

Thanks for reading. Mike will be back Thursday, but feel free to be in touch: @John_G_Nolan on Twitter and Instagram, as well as nolan@tincaps.com.

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