WVU’s Manoah Wows During All-Star Game Appearance
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Could Alek Manoah become West Virginia University’s most consequential athlete since Jerry West?
That’s saying a lot, but he certainly took a step in that direction during Wednesday night’s appearance in the 2022 All-Star Game when the American League defeated the National League 3-2. Manoah was mic’d up and wearing an earpiece for the FOX broadcast during his second-inning stint, and many in the sports world got their first glimpse of his wit, enthusiasm and charisma.
Manoah, who posted a 10-4 record, 2.28 ERA and 0.96 WHIP during the first half of the season, was making his All-Star Game debut in only his second season in the majors.
The Homestead, Florida, native seized the moment by striking out three of the four batters he faced. Afterward, Major League Baseball posted a 2:30 video clip of the Best of Alek Manoah mic’d up. The clip begins with FOX’s Joe Davis asking him if he loves pitching.
“Oh, this is great,” Manoah said. The righthander then asked how hard he was throwing and FOX analyst John Smoltz told him 94 (mph).
“I thought the adrenaline would give me a couple of more (mph),” Manoah replied.
He recorded his first out by getting Atlanta’s William Contreras looking on a 94 mph fastball on the outside corner.
“Here we go, there’s one,” Manoah said. “You think he was sitting on slider there?”
Later, Manoah threw a 96-mph fastball past San Francisco’s Joc Pederson.
“Ninety-six, now we’re getting loose,” 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 had New York Mets utility man Jeff McNeil down 0-2, he asked Smoltz what pitch he should throw to try and strike him out. Smoltz told him to throw a “back-foot slider, down and low.”
“Oh, you’re sexy,” Manoah teased.
But he overthrew the pitch and hit McNeil on the front foot. “My bad,” Manoah told him.
His final batter was Atlanta superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. Manoah asked Smoltz for some suggestions on what pitches to throw him since he’s never faced him before. Alek ended up getting ahead of Acuna on a couple of sinkers and when the count was 1-2, he told the TV audience he was thinking fastball up.
“That might throw him off a little bit,” Manoah said.
He missed his location, hitting the outer third of the plate belt-high, but he got Acuna to swing through the pitch anyway to strike out the side.
“Right down the middle, but three punchies,” Manoah said while jogging into the dugout. “We’ll take it! Let’s go!”
Although his appearance was brief, lasting less than 10 minutes, it made quite an impression. His three strikeouts were the most by a Toronto Blue Jays pitcher since seven-time All-Star Dave Stieb fanned four in three innings of work at Comiskey Park in 1983.
Do a Google search of Alek Manoah’s name today and you will see a long list of stories come up, including New York Post entertainment writer Jenna Lemoncelli’s blog on Manoah’s private jet, VIP experience with 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 drippy” in the city that Jerry West once owned.
I was in Toronto to watch the Blue Jays play the Yankees earlier this summer and you can sense the presence he already has in Canada’s largest city. There were a number of Blue Jays fans standing outside his large banner at Rogers Centre 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?”
He’s got a lot of them right now.
By the way, the true measure of a player’s popularity is the price of his rookie card. One of Manoah’s 2021 Topps Update cards recently sold for $40 and the value of it has gone up 41.4% in the last 30 days. His 2021 Topps Update Series Rookie Orange Ice Parallel card is going for a paltry $65 on Ebay right now.
Based on the way he’s trending, that’s probably a steal!