Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez is experiencing his first All-Star Game and who better to describe it than his wife, Judy, who is along for the trip and has agreed to share her observations:
Tuesday was a big day. It was a day Gaby will certainly remember for the rest of his life.
We started out in the morning at a player and family brunch, where Gaby got his All-Star ring. Brian Wilson showed up in a hat, shades and his signature beard. he looked every bit the part that he plays in the commercials. That beard is even thicker and darker in person! He's quite the character. My other favorite part was seeing San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain with his 7-month old daughter, who was dressed in a custom made Giants dress, complete with Cain embroidered on the back. She got my vote for "best dressed" and "best smile." And I don't dish out multiple awards that easily. I haven't said 'awww' like that since I saw that cat comfort its kitten having a nightmare on YouTube.
The next event was the red carpet show, where each player rides in a parade with their family. The parade route starts at the basketball arena and ends at the baseball field. On the bus ride to the arena, we saw in the back with Pablo Sandoval (aka Kung Fu Panda) and Yadier Molina. Sandoval let me try on the World Series ring. It's enormous! Talk about blinged out! He is all jokes and laughs. He definitely lives up to his nickname.
The parade was really nice. We piled into the back of a Chevy truck and waved to all the fans that were gathered along the sidewalk. We thought it would be hard to smile for the entire route, but we were having so much fun we couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces even if we tried. People cheered loudly for Gaby, but there was only one person in the crowd wearing a Marlins hat! That was surprising. Where are all the Fish fans?? We finally arrived at our destination, Chase Field. We headed back to the hotel and Gaby went into the clubhouse to start preparing for the game.
Game time. Back at the field, we grabbed some souvenirs, found our seats and got our cameras out just in time for the All-Star Game introductions. I had goosebumps after the players were announced and Jordin Sparks sang a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. It was time to play ball! The National League jumped out to an early lead after a 3-run home run by Prince Fielder, so that was nice. But we weren't sure when, if at all, we'd see Gaby exit the dugout. The suspense was finally over when we saw him make his way to the on deck circle in the 8th inning. He got jammed on a 1-1 pitch and flied out to second base. Kinda anti-climactic, but still so awesome to get to see him get in and be a part of the All-Star Game. We would've loved to have seen a hit, but maybe he's saving all of those for the upcoming 4-game series against the Cubs. I mean, we are riding a 5-game win streak. Don't count the Marlins out. The Fish are about to surge in the NL East Division in the second half. Oh, disregard the whole streak talk. I don't want the Marlins kicking me off the team plane for jinxing them. I know how superstitious baseball guys can be.
After the game, Gaby still had that look on his face of sheer happiness. He was so happy that he was part of the winning team and that 'not only can I say that I made the All-Star team, but I can say I actually played in the All-Star Game." The post-game bus ride marked the first time this trip that he actually felt like he could relax and take it easy. The entire experience was so much fun, but I could see that it was exhausting as well. There are so many things to do and it's nice to just have a second to soak it all in when it's over. Gaby considers this the fourth best day of his life. The good husband he is, he considers our wedding day the best (at least that's what he tells me, the smart man, huh?), his major league debut second and starting Opening Day as a close third.
The night concluded with a dinner at the hotel with Gaby's agent and Hunter Pence and his family. It was a blast and it was a wonderful way to cap off our time in Phoenix. These two days were even more fun than I could have ever anticipated and I feel so lucky to have gotten to experience all of this. Not to mention the goodie bags that the wives were given that had gift cards, a wallet and makeup. I know that making the All-Star team will always be difficult, especially for a National League first baseman. But I hope to be in Kansas City this time next year, watching Gaby take part in his second Midseason Classic.
-- Judy Sanchez