NEW YORK -- The time had come to sweat, to sit in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, the focal piece of Citi Field, surrounded by dozens of media members who probe with inquiries delivered in different languages from different points of view about different topics for different reasons. No same old, same old though, not for Dominic Brown, one half the Phillies' All-Star Game representation.
His smile stretched across his face and sparkled as much as his diamond earrings. Brown is a first timer, and it showed.
"Happy to be here," his mantra for the day, didn't get the point across. Then, Brown added to it: "This is the best." And yes, that told his story.
Brown thought to previous summers and how he spent his time when the big leagues took their annual coffee break. Then it was the time to fret, a sit at home, surrounded by family members who probed him with gentler, less pointed questions that, nonetheless, fueled his fretting. Watching Ken Griffey Jr., was entertaining. But Brown wanted to be participate.
Brown was property of the Phillies then, too, and hoping to remain in their plans and their employ. The All-Star break always precedes the non-waiver Trade Deadline by a few weeks, of course. And speculation about deals that might enhance the Phillies' chances were as much a part of Brown's summer luggage as slacks, shorts and flip-flops.
"I was always being traded," Brown said. "I was always hoping I wouldn't be, but my name was always being mentioned."
It wasn't all that different this year, even as recently as July 7, the day Brown was summoned to the office of his manager, Charlie Manuel, to meet with the skipper and general manager Ruben Amaro. With each step from his locker to the office, Brown became more convinced the days preceding the Trade Deadline would find him packing more than flip-flops for a trip to a different big league city and the employ of a different big league team.
"No, I never heard anything specific, but you always think there's a chance," Brown said.
To his surprise and utter delight, the other big league city was New York -- Flushing, Queens to be exact, and the other big league team turned out to be the National League All-Star squad. Quite specific and rewarding.
Brown's best months of production have made him a player the Phillies have no intention of dealing. Six weeks shy of his 26th birthday, he has produced numbers that vividly illustrate his increased value. Brown's home runs and RBIs in 384 plate appearances this season (23 and 67, respectively) exceed his corresponding figures (12 and 58) in 492 plate appearances in the previous three seasons. He has done the left-handed heavy lifting the Phillies had expected Ryan Howard to do.
Brown proudly sat in the Rotunda on Monday afternoon, looking sharp despite the wilting weather that is not expected to break until well after the 2013 championship season resumes. At a booth to his right was Phillies colleague Cliff Lee, a veteran of three other All-Star Games and a pitcher not unfamiliar with Trade Deadline speculation and anxieties.
The first Deadline following Lee's winning the 2008 American League Cy Young Award with the Indians had him moving to the Phillies and, a few months later, to the World Series against the Yankees. He knows the experience of being moved. It put Lee in October for the first time in his career and in the World Series for the first of two times.
Lee would like a second encore appearance, but with the Phillies. "I'd like to win with these guys," he said, noting that he opted to return to the Phillies as a free agent for the 2011 season and beyond because he liked the surroundings and the people in them. Indeed, at age 34, Lee says he hopes to complete his career as part of the Phillies' rotation.
That wish might prove problematic. Lee suggested the chance existed that a continued mediocre performance by the Phillies -- winning seven of their 10 most recent games put their winning percentage at .500 -- could prompt the club to become a seller before or at the Trade Deadline. His performance to date -- a 10-3 record, 2.36 ERA in 19 starts and 138 1/3 innings -- makes Lee an attractive potential acquisition.
The $90 million owed to him through 2016 eliminated much of his appeal. But he knows a chance exists if the right club -- i.e., well-positioned, well-off financially and at least borderline desperate to reach October -- exists, his days with the Phillies could be short-lived.
Brown spoke similarly on Monday, saying the Phillies need to maintain their recent level of performance not merely to contend with Braves and Nationals in the National League East, but also to keep the group together. He too likes his surrounding and his colleagues. "I'm glad I didn't go," Brown said. And he was thrilled that he did go to Citi Field.
Brown looks forward to Tuesday night, the foul line introductions, the dugout kibitzing, the game and all the fuss. It'll be sticky and hot, but quite comfortable, nonetheless, he said. Chills are possible even in baseball's tropics.
"Oh yeah," Brown said. "Yes they are. I expect to be cool."
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Marty Noble is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less