MLB All-Star game gets a Sho, but the real Showtime is next year

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Next time, it’s ours.

The last time the All-Star game was played at Dodger Stadium, Reggie Smith started in center field for the National League.

That was in 1980. He is 76 now. The Dodgers have not played host to an All-Star game since then, and he would not have believed it if you had told him how long the wait would be for the next one.

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“Forty-two years? The Dodgers? No All-Star game in L.A.?” Smith said as he reminisced in the dugout Tuesday at Coors Field. “Something’s wrong.”

Two score and two years later, it will be showtime once again at Dodger Stadium. It might be Sho Time Two.

Thanks, Denver, and we’ll take it from here. Save the date: The All-Star game returns to L.A. on July 12, 2022.

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“It’s a long time coming,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I know our city is going to do it right, with the help of the Dodgers.

“Can’t wait. I hope I get to manage.”

The American League won what essentially became the Shohei Ohtani Invitational on Tuesday, with a 5-2 victory that extended the National League’s All-Star losing streak to eight games.

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The historic nature of the event was evident from the pregame introductions, when Ohtani was introduced thusly: “Leading off, the designated hitter and the starting pitcher.”

Ohtani threw as hard as 100 mph in a scoreless inning, and the major league home run leader turned out to be the winning pitcher. The save unofficially was credited to his Angels teammate Jared Walsh, a first baseman who made a sliding, game-saving catch of a sinking line drive in left field, at a time the NL had the tying runs on base.

Walsh never had played left field in the majors, but AL manager Kevin Cash alerted him before the game that he might.

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“He looked at me like I had two heads,” Cash said.

There was Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the game’s most valuable player, taking the field with a glove covered in pictures of him and his dad, with father and son wearing matching Montreal Expos uniforms. And, 15 years after the father hit a home run in the All-Star game, so did the son, obliterating a ball that traveled 468 feet through the mile-high air.

That was not the hardest ball Guerrero hit. In his first at-bat, he nearly beheaded Max Scherzer with a 111-mph drive, then jogged to the mound to hug it out with him.

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“I’m alive,” Scherzer said. “That’s the success story.”

American League’s Whit Merrifield tags out National League’s Omar Narvaez on a runners fielders choice during the ninth inning of the MLB All-Star game on Tuesday in Denver.

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(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

There was Fernando Tatis Jr., the swaggiest player in the sport, smiling and laughing wherever he goes. All the Dodgers were booed here — who would boo Chris Taylor? — but the San Diego Padres shortstop said he would not expect resounding boos if he makes next year’s game in L.A.

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“I feel there’s going to be boos over there,” he said, “but there’s going to be a lot of claps too.”

And, of course, there was Ohtani, who turned this game from a midsummer classic into an international showcase. Ohtani said he would love to sign up for the home run derby again, and he graciously deflected all the attention with which he was showered this week.

“If more people are watching baseball, it makes me happy,” he said, “and it’s good for the sport.”

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So is tradition, and so is pageantry, and L.A. and the Dodgers are all about both.

Smith, here because Roberts appointed him to the All-Star coaching staff, said he heard that one plan under consideration for next year’s game would be to include a living link to the 1980 game.

“They want the guys that were in that 1980 All-Star game to come back,” he said.

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That would be the four Dodgers in the starting lineup — Smith, Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and Bill Russell — and pitcher Jerry Reuss. Pitcher Bob Welch, sadly, died in 2014.

There would be a natural tie to a glorious era in L.A. sports. Magic Johnson, who happily recalls watching Garvey and Smith and Ron Cey and Dusty Baker back in the day, led the Lakers to an NBA title in 1980, and four more before the decade was out. The Dodgers won two championships that decade. These days, Johnson is co-owner of the Dodgers.

So, coming July 2022: How about Showtime, and Sho Time, in a town that knows how to put on a show?

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“It is Hollywood,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “I imagine it will be pretty electric.”

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