2008 MLB All Star Game

Wow.  A late night, 15 inning affair, one that had several people sweating bullets like it was 2002 again.

I think the happiest people in the park when Justin Morneau scored were Terry Francona, Jim Leyland, and Bud Selig.  Not just that the AL had won, but they were saved from having to make some really rough decisions if the game went into a 16th inning.  A brief recap first though…

Scoring was hard to find this year.  It was quite clear that the pitchers, from both the AL and NL, were out to win this game.  Matt Holliday got the scoring going with a solo HR in the 5th, which was followed by a another run in the 6th on a Lance Berkman Sac Fly.  MVP JD Drew got the AL back with a 2-run HR in the 7th.  Things got a bit ugly in the 8th when Jon Papelbon took the mound for the AL.  After some highly misinterperted comments got some typical NYC press coverage, the crowd got on Pap bad.  With the crowd chanting for Mariano Rivera, and a run of “over rated” chants, Miguel Tejada singled, stole second, and got to third on Dioner Navarro’s throwing error.  IMO, the crowd had an effect that inning.  I think that Navarro let the crowd get to him a bit, and he rushed his throw to second trying to get things quieted a bit.  Instead, he threw the ball into CF, which allowed Tejada to score on an Adrian Gonzalez Sac Fly.  As a side note, even Derek Jeter thought the crowd was “off” waving at them dismissively at one point.  Bet that doesn’t make the NYC papers.

Down 3-2, Grady Sizemore of the AL singled in the 8th, and then stole second uncontested.  With two outs, PH Evan Longoria (the fan vote 10th man), hit a ground rule double, scoring Sizemore.  Score tied 3-3.  Mariano River came in in the 9th, and worked almost 2 full innings, trying to get the win, and had to work out of a jam to preserve the 3-3 tie.  Things just got wild from there.

Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook had a bases loaded, no out jam, and got out of the inning unscathed.  Poor Dan Uggla.  He had a rough couple of innings, including back to back errors.  Yet neither error hurt the NL.  But Uggla couldn’t make up for the errors at the plate, going down twice more in the game.  Fast forward to the 15th inning..

Things were getting real tight in the 15th.  Scott Kazmir pitched the inning for the AL.  He wasn’t supposed to pitch at all, having thrown over 100 pitches on Sunday.  Then again, neither was Brandon Webb for the NL who had done the same, and pitched the 14th for the NL.  Kazimir was the last pitcher for the AL.  The NL only had Brad Lidge left.  Kazimir got a 1-2-3 15th for the AL.

Clint Hurdle brought in Lidge for the 15th.  He had some trouble, and ended up with a bases loaded, 1 out situation.  With the infield and OF “in,” Michael Young stepped up to the plate.  He hit a short fly ball to RF Corey Hart (the NL’s fan vote 10th man), who threw home as Justin Morneau tagged from third.  Morneau got in just ahead of Brian McCann’s tag, giving the Al the 4-3 win.

As Morneau tagged up, both managers were sweating bullets, along with Commissioner Bud Selig.  They were all out of players, pitchers and position players.  Every one on both rosters had been used.  Had the game gone to the 16th, Terry Francona was going to face a tough decision: Try to get 1 more inning out of Kazmir, and risk over using him, or got to a position player.  Clint Hurdle was facing a similar situation with Brad Lidge.  According to MLB.com, JD Drew was up to pitch for the AL, and David Wright for the NL.  Wouldn’t that have been interesting.  Yet Justin Mornaeu saved them from having to make those choices.  Francona was so elated I thought he was going to kiss Jim Leyland, who he’d obviously been consulting closely with on the matter.  And I haven’t seen the eternally grumpy Jim Leyland that happy since he won the World series with the Marlins.

So, thanks to a basic, fundamental baseball play, we were saved from seeing either another tie (which Selig said would not happen), or seeing position players tossing BP in the 16th.  And the crowd that remained, which I’d estimate at about a third of those who showed up originally, got to see an exciting play to end the game.

Now the good, bad, and ugly from the broadcast.

The good:

The tributes with the Hall of Famers.  It’s always fun to see the living HoF’ers gather together.  All that talent, all those memories, all those great players.  And it was the last All Star game at Yankee Stadium, which made it just a bit more special than in past years.I really liked how they broke the HoF’ers down by position, and introduced the All Star starters at each position after them. 

The tribute to Bobby Murcer.  Murcer passed away a few days ago, and was a well liked player and broadcaster.  I always liked Murcer, first as a player, then as a broadcaster.  One of the few Yankees I can say that about.  It’s too bad it was only one short bit about half way through the game.  He deserved a bit more than that IMO.

The game itself was a classic.  What more could one ask for?  You had everything happen.  Great pitching, cluth hitting, spectacular and awful defense, and close plays.  It would have been nice if they could have gotten it over in 9, but the excitement never ended in the extras.

Josh Groban singing “God Bless America.”  One of the better renditions I’ve heard in quite a while.  Usually these are just fluff additions to get non-baseball viewers to tune in.  But Groban didn’t mail in his performance, and in fact excelled at it. 

The Bad:

The Yankee ass kissing by Joe Buck.  Why didn’t Fox just cut to the chase and have Michael Kay do the broadcast?  Nobody kisses Yankee ass during a broadcast like Kay.  Though Yogi in the booth was worth while.  But still, Joe Buck could have been a bit more impartial, and not just keep sucking up to the Yankees.  the Steinbrenner comments alone made me cringe.

Too much Yankee this and that.  Yes I get it.  It was Yankee stadium.  It was the last All Star game there.  But there should be a limit.  I didn’t mind the Yankee HoF’ers throwing out the ceremonial first picth, that was to be expected.  But the crap with Steinbrenner bringing out the balls, and the constant cuts to the Monuments, just got annoying. 

Ken Rosenthal.  Ugh.  He’s awful.  Terrible even.  While no Rex Hudler, he’s still an rotten reporter and broadcaster.  He should be nicknamed Captain Obvious, as he’s rarely, if ever, insightful, or provides any sort of in depth analysis or information.

The Ugly:

Sheryl Crow siging the National Anthem.  Yikes, was that bad.  I’ve seen good, bad, and ugly performances of the National Anthem, and this one was ugly.  She couldn’t even keep her own timing.  Her voice was off, her guitar was slightly out of tune.  And she kept changing the time of the music, and threw herself off at least twice.

The Yankee partisans in the crowd.  I already mentioned what happened in the 8th with Papelbon on the mound.  The stupid crowd nearly cost the AL the game.  I get booing Red Sox players.  I expect that, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Yet the crowd went “one step beyond” in the 8th.  Even the Yankee players and Joe Girardi made it clear they thought the crowd was out of line.  Jeter waved at the crowd dismissivley, and Girardi looked like he was apologizing to Terry Francona at one point.  So, the NY press got the crowd fired up over nothing (which everyone except the NY press agrees on), and nearly cost the AL the game. 

So, here’s to next year.  St.Louis should put on a good show.

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8 thoughts on “2008 MLB All Star Game

  1. Also part of the very happy bunch: Joe Maddon, manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. If Kazmir had pitched anymore at all, his young stud may not have been able to pitch on Saturday. He went over 100 pitches on Sunday against Cleveland, and Francona was lucky it ended when it did.

  2. I’m quite sure that Maddon and the Rays were kept informed of what was happening. As Joe Buck and Tim McCarver pointed out, Kazimir was probably on a pitch count (my guess around 40), and Francona wouldn’t have let Kazimir go beyond that. He wasn’t going to be accused of blowing out one of his rivals top pitchers in the AS game.

    And MLB was lucky it ended when it did. Can you imagine Drew and Wright tossing pitches in the 16th? Never mind that 2/3’s of the fans had already left the stadium, and fewer were watching at home.

    Still some tweaks needed for the As game just in case of these situations. I kind of liked the one idea floated, where if a pitcher started on Sunday, he would be inelligible to pitch at the AS game. They’s still be named to the team, but would be replaced by a pitcher that was able to go, with out risk of tiring or over use.

  3. My suggestion for the All-Star game is that they extend the break by a day. Some teams already start play on the Friday after the break, not the Thursday, so why not take advantage of that? Have the Futures Game, and Celebrity Softball thing in prime-time Monday night. Then the Derby on Tuesday night, and the game itself Wednesday night. This would cut away some of the ‘that pitcher is off limits’ stunts that were pulled this year. Nothing radical is extremely necessary for the game. I personally, as an avid sabermetrician, think that the fan voting is stupid, but it seems to be good for the game, so let it stay.

  4. That’s not a half bad idea. But I’m sure FOX and ESPN will cry foul over TV rights and scheduling.

    In past years, I’d have agreed with you on fan voting. But in the past few years, the fans have generally gotten things “right” IMO. There hasn’t been a “WTF” vote in some time.

    I’m not a whole sale believer in stats. As I’ve said in previous entries, there are just some things which can’t be quantified by a number or a formula. And some stats are just over worked, and nigh meaningless.

  5. You should check out a recent post I made about who should have been in the All-Star game, and which players have created the most runs above average in the last year and a half. The results are pretty interesting, and as a Bill James follower, I absolutely concur with your final sentence. The reason why stats are often viewed as over-rated is because the popular media doesn’t portray them right. For example, batting average and runs batted in show relatively nothing about what an individual brings to his team in terms of creating runs. At bats are a partial statistic, and runs batted in is all about luck.

  6. Well, I would disagree about RBI’s being all about luck. In any Baseball stat, luck is going to play a factor, regardless of what the stat is. But RBI’s are as much about the guys ahead of a hitter as they are about the hitter. RBI’s alone don’t tell the story. A-Rod is proof enough of that. Runs produced is another stat that is as much about the hitters around a guy, as the guy himself. No single stat will tell the whole story of a player, ever. There’s just too much that can’t be boiled down to a single number.

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