Now that we are in mid June, baseball is entering a fever pitch for the midsummer classic. The Atlanta Braves figure to be well represented in this year’s edition of the best from the National League against the best from the American League.
As we begin to fire up content looking into the 2023 Braves players we could see in Seattle for the All-Star game, I thought it would be fun to look back at the last time an Atlanta Brave was named the MVP of the midsummer classic.
In fact there has been only two Braves players’ to win All-Star game MVP. The first was the “Crime Dog” Fred McGriff in 1994, and the most recent is former Braves catcher Brian McCann in 2010. Let’s take a look back on the 2010 All-Star game and find out how B-Mac was able to secure the MVP honor.
Braves star catcher shines the brightest in LA
Considering how just how many All-Stars the Braves have had over the years, only two winning MVP seemed a bit low. However, we have to remember that the All-Star game MVP usually is on the winning side. And the National league hasn’t been winning to many midsummer classics in recent years.
In fact, the American League didn’t lose from 1996-2009. As of today they have won nine straight contests. Not a lot of winning from the National League equals, not a lot of chances for an Atlanta Brave to be named MVP.
Thankfully, the All-Star game doesn’t determine home-field advantage in the World Series anymore. However, in 2010 it was the Braves hometown catcher that secured a win for the NL and snapped the streak of American League dominance.
Brian McCann is a seven time All-Star. He made a string of six consecutive ASG selections from 2006-2011 for the Braves. However, he only collected ONE hit in his seven ASG at-bats. It just so happened to be the hit that propelled the NL to a long-awaited victory.
The 2010 All-Star game was being held in Anaheim, home of the Angels. It was following the script of most All-Star games, being heavily dominated by the pitching. The baseball game didn’t see it’s first run until the bottom of the fifth when Robinson Cano hit a sacrifice fly to score Evan Longoria.
It was a 1-0 lead for the AL entering the seventh inning. Of course this is where we saw most of the action, and the moment that made B-Mac an MVP. After back to back one-out singles from Scott Rolen and Matt Holiday, the AL made a pitching change.
They called upon one of the better left-handed relief options of the late 2000s. I am speaking of Matt Thornton of the Chicago White Sox. Thornton had a sub 3.00 ERA and sub 3.00 FIP from 2008-2010. He was one of the hardest throwing left-handed bullpen pieces of his time. He was trusted to escape the trouble and keep the AL’s win streak going.
Thornton looked poised to do just that once he entered the game. He immediately got Chris Young, of the Arizona Diamondbacks, to pop out and make it two outs in the inning. Next, came a walk to the right-handed hitting Marlon Byrd to get to Brian McCann and set up the lefty-lefty matchup.
The move set the stage; bases loaded, two outs, the AL clinging to a 1-0 lead, and the Braves All-Star catcher in the batters box. What came next? For those that haven’t guessed yet, and for those who can’t remember how the game played out I will tell you. Brian McCann turned around a 98 mph fastball from Thornton and ripped a double down the right field line. The clutch hit cleared the bases and gave the NL a 3-1 lead.
It was a lead the NL wouldn’t relinquish, in route to a 3-1 victory, their first since 1996. Having driven in all of the National League’s runs, McCann was an obvious selection for the All-Star game MVP award.
After the game, McCann did an interview with MLB Network radio. He spoke about Thornton having the best left-handed fastball in baseball and how thankful he was to get a pitch to hit and come through.
It was certainly a great memory for Braves fans everywhere, but 14 year-old me felt an extreme high of excitement in the midsummer classic I had never felt before. I’m not alone among Braves fans that love seeing their favorite players produce on the biggest stage.
The Braves keep producing talent and sending players to the ASG every year. Unfortunately, the dominance by the AL has robbed today’s generation of youngsters a moment like that for themselves. For now, I’d just like to thank those of you who looked back on this exciting moment with me, and let’s hope the NL can get a win here soon. If they do that, I’m confident one of our beloved Braves will have played a big part in creating another moment, just as Brian McCann did in 2010.