MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Could Alek Manoah become West Virginia University’s most important athlete since Jerry West?
That’s saying a lot, but he certainly took a step in that direction during Wednesday night’s appearance at the 2022 All-Star Game when the American League beat the National League 3-2. Manoah was mic and wore an earpiece for the FOX broadcast during his round two stint, and many in the sports world got their first glimpse of his spirit, enthusiasm and charisma.
Manoah, who posted a 10-4, 2.28 ERA and 0.96 WHIP record through the first half of the season, was making his All-Star Game debut in only his second season at the majors.
The Homestead, Fla. native seized the moment by striking out three of the four batters he faced. Subsequently, Major League Baseball released a 2:30 music video of the best of Alek Manoah on the mic. The clip begins with FOX’s Joe Davis asking him if he likes to pitch.
“Oh, that’s awesome,” Manoah said. The right-hander then asked how hard he was throwing and FOX analyst John Smoltz told him 94 (mph).
“I thought the adrenaline would give me a bit more (mph),” Manoah replied.
He recorded his first out by having Atlanta’s William Contreras stare on a 94 mph fastball to the outside corner.
“Here we go, there’s one,” Manoah said. “Do you think he was sitting on a slider there?”
Later, Manoah threw a 96 mph fastball past San Francisco’s Joc Pederson.
“Ninety-six, now we come off,” he said. Manoah fanned Pederson on another 94 mph fastball.
“Here we go, that’s two. I know my family is going crazy up there right now,” he joked.
When Manoah beat New York Mets utility Jeff McNeil 0-2, he asked Smoltz what pitch he should throw to try and get him out. Smoltz told him to throw a “back, low, low foot slider.”
“Oh, you’re hot,” Manoah teased.
But he flipped the pitch and hit McNeil on the front foot. “My hurt,” Manoah told him.
His last batter was Atlanta superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. Manoah asked Smoltz for suggestions on what pitches to throw at him since he had never faced him before. Alek ended up outscoring Acuna on a couple of shots and when the count was 1-2, he told viewers he was thinking fastball.
“That might put him off a bit,” Manoah said.
He missed his spot, hitting the outside third of the plate at belt height, but he still forced Acuna to swing down the field to hit the side.
“Right in the middle, but three punches,” Manoah said as he jogged into the dugout. “We will take it! Let’s go! »
Although her appearance was brief, lasting less than 10 minutes, she made a strong impression. His three strikeouts were the most by a Toronto Blue Jays pitcher since seven-time All-Star Dave Stieb stoked four in three innings of work at Comiskey Park in 1983.
Do a Google search of Alek Manoah’s name today and you’ll see a long list of stories pop up, including New York Post entertainment writer Jenna Lemoncelli’s blog about Manoah’s private jet, a VIP experience with his girlfriend and former WVU volleyball player Marielena Somoza by his side on the red carpet in Los Angeles during All-Star Weekend.
Lemoncelli wrote that Manoah “made it dripping” in the town Jerry West once owned.
I was in Toronto to watch the Blue Jays take on the Yankees earlier this summer and you can feel the presence he already has in Canada’s biggest city. There were a number of Blue Jays fans in front of his big banner at the Rogers Center and his jerseys were all over downtown Toronto.
Earlier that day, as we were crossing the border into Canada, the Canadian border agent noticed our West Virginia license plate and asked, “Alek Manoah fans?
There are a lot of them right now.
By the way, the true measure of a player’s popularity is the price of their rookie card. One of Topps’ 2021 Manoah Update Cards recently sold for $40 and has increased in value by 41.4% in the past 30 days. His 2021 Topps Update Series Rookie Orange Ice Parallel card is currently $65 on Ebay.
Based on how trendy it is, it’s probably a bargain!