Sure, it was great for a couple days. The cheers for Derek Jeter. The power of Giancarlo Stanton. The excellence of Mike Trout in the American League's 5-3 victory.
Baseball's All-Star party in the Twin Cities was a long series of smiles for players and fans. But the break is over now, and the real fun begins Friday night.
Heading into the second half of the season, there are all sorts of compelling stories from coast to coast. It could be one fun summer in California, where Oakland begins the weekend with the best record in the majors, and the Giants, Angels and Dodgers are in prime playoff position. The trade deadline is in two weeks, and the recovery of several key injured players could dramatically affect a couple of divisions.
The A's bearded collection of shaggy misfits and stars is looking for the franchise's first World Series title in 25 years. Sensing an opportunity, general manager Billy Beane got an early jump on the deadline when he acquired pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in a deal with the Chicago Cubs on July 4.
The blockbuster trade created an awkward scene at the All-Star game, where Samardzija was introduced with the NL reserves and then joined his new teammates in the AL dugout.
"I'm really excited to just put all this to rest now and the sideshow that's happened right in the middle of all this," Samardzija said. "It was a great opportunity to get to know these guys more. I flew out here with them. I'm excited."
There will be no such problem for any other players on the move this month.
Boston pitcher Jake Peavy, Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley, San Diego closer Huston Street and New York Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon are thought to be on the market as contenders shop for that missing piece that could pay off into October.
"I guess there's a possibility for anything, but at this point I love playing in Philadelphia," said Utley, who could veto any deal.
Jeter was warmly greeted everywhere he went this week, and the Yankee captain contributed two hits to the AL All-Star win. Any chance of his final season ending in the playoffs likely depends on the return of rookie ace Masahiro Tanaka, who is out with a partially torn ligament in his right elbow. He is going through a six-week rehab program but season-ending surgery is an option. Michael Pineda also could return from a back injury to New York's battered rotation.
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