With the 90th edition of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game scheduled for Tuesday night in Cleveland, former major leaguer and Whiteoak High School graduate Kip Young said that from his perspective, fans still look forward to it and that baseball is still “the national pastime.”
“I think the players are as competitive as if the game counted in the standings,” he said. “Everybody, from the starters down to the reserves, want to come in and do a good job, the fans enjoy the home run derby and anyone who puts on that uniform is going to play and play hard.”
According to Major League Baseball, Tuesday night’s mid-summer classic will be the sixth All-Star Game for “The Rock & Roll Capitol of t. That breaks a four-way tie with Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincinnati.
Young traded in his pitchers glove for a career in education and is now a sales consultant for Hillsboro Auto Sales, but the former No. 37 for the Detroit Tigers had some ideas as to how the 2019 season will pan out once play resumes after the All-Star Break.
“The Reds are playing some good baseball and I predicted that back in the spring,” he said. “They’re exciting to watch and they’re close to .500, and in that tightly packed National League Central Division, they’re only three or four games behind the division leading Cubs and Brewers.”
Young admitted the boys from Cincinnati have had their share of ups and downs in the first half of the season, but said he thought they were competitive and would be so the remainder of the year, with Yasiel Puig as a standout favorite and fierce competitor.
“He started out slow, but in the last six weeks he’s probably the most popular guy and a fan favorite,” he said. “At six-two and 240 pounds, he plays hard, hits the ball well, plays a tough defense, has one of the best arms in the league, and for a big guy he’s got speed.”
Despite the fact that right-hand pitcher Luis Castillo is the sole delegate from professional baseball’s oldest team to make the all-star squad, Young said that while he didn’t think the Reds would be in contention this season, they will still be an exciting team to watch the rest of the year.
With the second half of the season picking up where it left off after Tuesday’s all-star contest, Young said he still thinks the teams to watch in the American League are the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees, with the New York Yankees benefitting from off-season trades that have turned ordinary games into home run slug fests.
“The Red Sox are four or five games below .500 and they’re in a tough division,” he said. “They could still pull it out and repeat as World Champions, but I think they’ve got their work cut out for them.”
For the National League, Young still likes the Dodgers despite their getting beat up by the Red Sox in last year’s World Series, winning only one game out of five.
“I like the Dodgers, but I really thought the Nationals would fare better,” he said. “And Philadelphia, when they got Bryce Harper, I thought they’d do a little better.”
In the World Series for the National League, Young feels it will be the Los Angeles Dodgers with the Atlanta Braves as a close second choice, or another team to “catches fire” and challenges “the blue crew” later in the season.
As for a prediction who will be in the fall classic for the American League, Young said he favors the Yankees and also has a watchful eye on the Minnesota Twins. But his heart is still with Houston due to how good of a team it is and because of a close friend who is a relief pitcher and played college ball with his son at Wright State University.
“Joe Smith tore his Achilles tendon back in December,” he said. “He’s a side arm pitcher and won’t be back on the team until late in July, but he’s been in the big leagues for 12 years and I’d like to see him get a shot at a World Series ring.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.