For Oakland A’s pitcher Paul Blackburn, his first trip to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game came with some help from a division rival.
Blackburn, the lone member of the Athletics to be selected to the All-Star Game, was scheduled to fly commercial to Los Angeles out of Houston, where Oakland had just finished a three-game series against the Astros.
According to Blackburn, the Astros caught wind of his travel plans and invited him to fly with their All-Stars to LA via the team’s charter flight. Houston has five players participating in the All-Star Game.
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“I flew with Houston over here with their guys, their charter,” Blackburn told Fox 26. “It was fun. They made me feel very welcome and comfortable. We had some good conversations and some good laughs. It was fun. It was a good time.
“It was just brought to me and asked if I wanted to fly with them. And I said ya. If Dusty [Baker] would allow that, then of course.”
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Blackburn has started in 18 games for the A’s this season, posting a 3.62 ERA in 97.0 innings pitched. For the Oakland All-Star, the flight offer from Houston showed that everyone in baseball has each other’s back.
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“It just kind of shows that within baseball, it’s kind of like a brotherhood,” Blackburn said. “And everyone respects each other and tries to help each other out. I’m greatly appreciative for their organization and letting me tag along over here.”
Oakland has the second-worst record in all of Major League Baseball, sitting at 32-61 as the Mid-Summer Classic is set to get underway Tuesday night at Dodgers Stadium.
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The A’s also have the second-lowest payroll in all of Major League Baseball, sitting only above the Baltimore Orioles with a total 2022 payroll of just over $48 million. In comparison, the top-three highest payrolls in baseball, the Mets, Yankees, and Dodgers, are all over $250 million.