Wednesday, July 16, 2008

[Insert Uggla-Ugly Pun Here]

Three hours into the player introductions for last night's All Star game, we should have realized that we were in for a long night. I am not sure if the introductions were longer, more painful and less necessary than that "Call Your Shot" promotion right before the finals of the Home Run Derby, so we will call it a tie.

Fox/Major League Baseball trotted out anywhere from three to fifteen Hall of Famers at each position and introduced them as well as the current players. I took a nap about a half hour into it and woke up when they got to third base and introduced Phil Rizzuto. I thought they were going to start naming all of the dead Hall of Famers. And speaking of dead guys, why was Rizzuto (who is a ballplayer, not a word) the only one named? If I was Babe Ruth's, or Roger Maris', or Mickey Mantle's ghost, I would be haunting Joe Buck's house so bad right now.

The funny thing was that Buck's dramatic scripted intro for the intro stated that he was going to name the "living immortals." I got a kick out of this because A: Rizzuto is not living (not that I am mocking him for being dead, I just don't see how he is a "living immortal" and B: can there be such a thing as a "dead immortal"? I mean being immortal seems like it pretty much eliminates death, being that it means "not dead."

Also during the intros, Josh Hamilton was called, "a hero last night in the Derby," and while that is completely true, if I was Justin (or Jason) Morneau, I'd be pissed.

Buck's painfully scripted and rehearsed moments did not go well for him. At one point, while fawning over Yankee Stadium, he called it "our Coliseum." I couldn't help but think that the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is our Coliseum, being that it is slightly older than Yankee stadium and is, you know, called the "Coliseum." This was the line that Buck trotted out when the game was seemingly about to end: Grady Sizemore at bat, bases loaded, no outs, bottom of the 10th. The NL then put on a defensive exhibition (thankfully, no balls were hit to Dan Uggla) and Buck's big line was wasted.

Late in the game, in maybe the 12th or 13th inning, I started to wonder who was the saddest man on earth at that moment: Uggla or Bud Selig? Uggla will likely decline the invitation to next year's All Star game, if he is invited. He struck out three times and when he did hit the ball, he grounded into a double play. He left a game-high six men on base. And he committed three errors. Ouch.

But then there is Selig. In 2002 when the game was tied 7-7 in the 11th inning and Selig had to figure out what the hell they were going to do now that neither team had any pitchers left, he looked like he would rather have cut his own leg off with a plastic spoon than have to deal with that situation, live on national television, in the front row of his own home stadium. So this time he was hiding in an office somewhere.

Did Selig think that incomprehensibly making the outcome of the World Series depend on the All Star game was going to eliminate the possibility that the game could be tied late? Did they really consider that problem fixed? They didn't change anything, they just made it matter infinitely more if the exact same problem should occur again. Clearly they need to cut the tie that binds the World Series' home field advantage to this game because it is too important of a result to have it depend on fans' fickle voting, and then potentially position players pitching to close out the game.

If the All Star game is going to decide the World Series' home field advantage, the team cannot be chosen by fans, and pitchers must be prepared to go 3+ innings. If a guy pitched on Sunday and can't go more than 15 pitches in an emergency situation, he should get his All Star bonus, he should get to enjoy the festivities, but he should not be in the dugout. Get someone who can play.

If they want it to be an exhibition where the fans get to play a major role, then cut the World Series connection. The game is fun regardless of whether "this one counts." It wasn't great theater because of the World Series (exclusively). It was also great theater because it was great theater! That bottom of the 10th inning was one of the great innings in baseball history, outdone perhaps by the bottom of the 11th! And if it had come down to it, what a wonderful, fun, fan-friendly way to end such a marathon it would have been if David Wright and JD Drew had gone in to pitch, with Brad Lidge and Scott Kazmir at DH.

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