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It's all officially over, with the National League having defeated the American League 5-1 in Tuesday night's All-Star Game. This is the NL's second consecutive win, which comes after the AL went undefeated for 13 years in a row. That undefeated streak is not called a winning streak because of the infamous tie in 2002, and I wonder how they would handle that now.
NL Wins: NL representative gets World Series home-field advantage
AL Wins: AL representative gets World Series home-field advantage
Tie: World Series played in Hiram Bithorn Stadium
Once the game was over, it was time for Bud Selig to rather dispassionately announce Prince Fielder as the winner of the 2011 MLB All-Star Game MVP award, account of his game-changing three-run homer. Any surprise was ruined when FOX returned from commercial and showed Fielder and his kids standing next to Selig before he even started reading his announcement off a piece of paper. It would've been funny if Fielder were standing there and then Selig announced like Tyler Clippard. Surprise! This comically enormous $40,000 check isn't for you!
The check wasn't actually for Fielder anyway, as it was a symbolic check, which is the worst kind of check. Fielder will instead have a youth baseball field in Milwaukee renovated and named in his honor, with the whole projected slated to be completed just around the time that Fielder becomes a free agent. The field will be used not for baseball, but as a place to bury beloved pets.
Fielder also got a badass trophy.
It's over! Congratulations, entire National League!
The seventh inning began not with the playing of baseball, but with a delay so that everybody in the park and watching from home could pause and acknowledge that cancer is really awful and destroys lives on a daily basis. "Having a good time watching this All-Star Game? Too bad! Cancer sucks and is everywhere!" On the plus side, as remarked by every person I follow on Twitter, the delay did allow us to find out that Joe Buck is perfectly suited for talking about a debilitating illness.
I'm skipping paragraphs and going to bullet points now because I'm sick of having to try to tie things together.
"This is a perfect apple, it just has all these bruises."
[Konerko] was right on that foul ball, he just fouled it back.
There's a Stand Up To Cancer commercial they've aired three or four times now that features Ray Romano and Reese Witherspoon sneaking up on two different parties dining at restaurants. Romano and Witherspoon are wearing Stand Up To Cancer tee shirts, and the parties are excited and get up and hug them, and that is the commercial about beating cancer. There might be more to it but I haven't actually paid attention to the dialogue. I've listened to scripted Ray Romano and Reese Witherspoon dialogue before and I'll be damned if I make that mistake again.
Perez was one of four AL replacements for the inning. The first batter flied out to Carlos Quentin, who was one of them. "The ball always finds the new guy," somebody might say, but there are too many new guys, and the ball cannot find all of them at once. I'm surprised the ball didn't hang up in the air, indecisive.
The NL didn't score despite a Yadier Molina double off the top of the left field fence. Hometown favorite Justin Upton got a chance to drive him in, but Upton lined out instead. Prince Fielder - who these fans serenaded with boos yesterday and today - has so far hit the decisive blast. Upton - whose exclusion from the home run derby made these fans so upset - is 0-for-1. Based on the Rocky IV example, Prince Fielder is the new hometown favorite.
There is not a single unattractive person currently in or around the Chase Field pool. I have been to Arizona. I have been to Phoenix. I give 20% odds those people arrived there organically, 40% odds those people were placed, and 40% odds those people are detailed moving holograms, which is the future of .gif technology.
Clayton Kershaw handled the top of the fifth for the NL with ease, needing just eight pitches to record a strikeout and two grounders. One can't help but credit Yadier Molina for calling eight good pitches, after he replaced Brian McCann, who called several worse pitches in the fourth. Baseball is really all about the catchers, and pitchers are only as good or bad as the catchers who catch them.
To the bottom half we went, with Jordan Walden taking over as the AL's fifth pitcher. He allowed a leadoff single to Troy Tulowitzki, who was immediately replaced with pinch-runner Starlin Castro. Castro stole second, advanced to third on a ball in the dirt, and was then thrown out at home on a tapper back to the mound, negating all the hard work he'd just done. Youth mistake. The NL did end up scoring again on an RBI single by Andre Ethier, but rather than describe that I'm just going to give you a poor recording of the Justin Timberlake interview from before:
In case you missed it, watch it before it's pulled down!
So Prince Fielder hit a three-run homer off C.J. Wilson in the fourth to give the NL a 3-1 lead. But before that, Justin Timberlake. Mark Grace caught up to Justin Timberlake in the outfield. Three things that Timberlake said:
I will leave you to interpret Timberlake's message but it should not go without saying that he was drinking a giant beer, and talking about how much he likes beer.
Anyway there was also a half-inning of baseball, and within the half-inning of baseball there were two singles and a home run when Fielder unloaded on a 2-2 cutter out and over the plate. Now that it is 3-1 National League I am concerned that themay not get the home-field advantage for which I've been so desperately hoping. Idea: the league that wins the All-Star Game gets home-field advantage in the World Series, and the team whose player wins the All-Star Game MVP plays only at home the rest of the season. Can you imagine the competitiveness!
Oh and Josh Beckett is fine. Just another All-Star who didn't feel like participating.
We have a run! Which means we have pitchers of record, and hope for a conclusion!
Cliff Lee returned to the mound for the top of the fourth and recorded two more outs hit to Roy Halladay, playing defense. But then Adrian Gonzalez stepped up and blasted an 0-1 cutter right into the middle of the overflow All-Star player seating section beyond the right-center fence. Robinson Cano beat Adrian Gonzalez in the home run derby, but so far Adrian Gonzalez is beating Robinson Cano in actual home runs.
The AL threatened further after Prince Fielder dropped a pop-up and Josh Hamilton singled, but Jose Bautista was waved around third on a subsequent Adrian Beltre single to left, and Hunter Pence threw Bautista out at the plate with a perfect strike to Brian McCann. Pence is feeling energized about getting to play with talented teammates.
To the bottom of the fourth we go, with C.J. Wilson replacing Michael Pineda on the mound. Wilson used to be a closer and now he's being handed a narrow lead so he just has to protect this familiar situation for six innings.
Roy Halladay handed the ball over to Cliff Lee for the top of the third, and I mean that literally, because the National League All-Star team is just Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, all trying to occupy as many places as they can. And after three innings, the Phillies are working on a perfect game, as the AL squad has gone nine up and nine down. Lee threw 13 pitches in the 1-2-3 frame, inducing three grounders to Halladay, who threw to Hamels for the putouts.
Mariners rookie Michael Pineda emerged from the crowded bullpen for the bottom half, which has to be relief when it's that hot and you're stuck sitting between so many bodies. Out on the mound you're all by yourself and you can finally breathe clean cooler air. Feeling refreshed, Pineda made quick work of three dudes, striking out two dudes. Which was pretty dumb of him because now he has to go sit between a bunch of bodies again, and some of these bodies will be all sweaty. It's so hot.
Now here's a Gatorade commercial featuring a clip of Derek Jeter, which is awkward. Also we're on pace to be done in something like two hours, except that nobody's scored yet, which means we're on pace to go forever. Thankfully there's no game scheduled for tomorrow so they can just carry this one over as long as they have to.
The top of the second went by almost as quickly as the top of the first, which makes me think that Phillies fans might really have something in Roy Halladay. Between him and Cliff Lee I bet the Phillies hitters get really tired of running back and forth from the dugout all the time. Adrian Beltre nearly took Halladay yard the other way, but Halladay stared at the ball and zapped it down with his eyes into Lance Berkman's glove.
That took us to the bottom of the second, which was supposed to be Josh Beckett's inning. But then Beckett felt discomfort in his knee while he was warming up and pulled out. There's no word yet on the severity of Beckett's injury but the good news for Red Sox fans is that they have John Lackey back.
The highlight of the second, aside from Beckett's injury*, was a tremendous sliding catch made by Jose Bautista in the right field foul territory. Soon thereafter Lance Berkman checked in with the first hit of the game, but he was thrown out stealing by Alex Avila when he tried to imitate Bautista and slid too far. Lance Berkman is now 0-for-4 this year on steal attempts. I watch the All-Star Game for the fundamentals and intellectual strategy.
* oh relax
The actual All-Star Game has finally started, and it's difficult to overstate just how little happened in the game's first inning. Or understate. I don't know, I'm just a writer who doesn't know words.
The first pitch was a fastball that Curtis Granderson grounded to first. Roy Halladay then struck out Asdrubal Cabrera on four pitches. Then Adrian Gonzalez grounded to first on four pitches. Kicking off the bottom half, Rickie Weeks grounded to first, and then Carlos Beltran struck out. For the first five batters, it was a game of two outcomes before Matt Kemp walked and Prince Fielder lined out. Matt Kemp is still afraid to swing on television after his impossibly pathetic performance a day ago.
If there was any remarkable anything about the first inning, it was that either Joe Buck or Tim McCarver referred to Adrian Gonzalez as the AL MVP while Jose Bautista was standing on deck. But then ripping on Buck and McCarver these days is more old hat than Abraham Lincoln's old hat. Buck does sound ill and I'm given to understand that he's long been fighting some sort of virus that's affected his voice, so I guess this All-Star Game will be devoid of his usual enthusiasm and explosive crescendos.
They tell you that the All-Star Game starts at 8pm Eastern but they are lying to you. It is a trick. The All-Star Game starts much much later than that, and it is at 8pm Eastern that the players and coaches begin assembling along the baselines for pre-game introductions. All TV shows should do this. NBC should tell everybody that Community begins at 8, except Community actually begins at 8:30, and at 8 the cast members stand in a line and wave at the camera while their names are spoken aloud. (ed note: TV should not do this.) It's important for All-Stars to get this kind of individual recognition after receiving the individual recognition of being named All-Stars.
Anyway, the introductions weren't particularly interesting, aside from the fact that the Arizona fans in attendance booed everyone. They booed Dodgers players, they booed Yankees players, they booed Brewers players...they basically booed everybody, except for Kirk Gibson, who is of course a postseason legend for the Dodgers. David Robertson got booed so loud you'd think the people in attendance actually have some idea who David Robertson is, and David Robertson is some kind of violent criminal.
When Joe Buck advanced to Miguel Cabrera while naming the AL All-Stars, he called him Felix Hernandez. Joe Buck is not not racist. Also when they announced All-Star Ryan Vogelsong the entire stadium collapsed and the event was canceled.
Following the introductions of the reserves, we had the introductions of the starters, and following the introductions of the starters we got a sneak preview of some new show that is going to be on FOX or is already on FOX, and it has Simon Cowell in it evaluating the talent of others. Simon Cowell has a good eye for performance All-Stars! Do you get my joke?
The national anthem was performed by Jordin Sparks, who I always confuse with Bubba Sparxxx.
I have written this entire blog post during the commercial break following Jordin Sparks' national anthem.
Yesterday, prior to the Home Run Derby on ESPN, ESPN aired a pre-derby show that was something like an hour long, with insight and analysis from an assortment of studio hosts and former athletes. Today, prior to the All-Star Game on FOX, my local FOX affiliate is telling me a story about a healthy 16-pound baby that was just born at an area hospital. I'm not sure which pre-event programming I like more.
(It's been brought to my attention that there's a pre-ASG show currently airing on the MLB Network, but this 16-pound baby is oddly compelling.)
Before the festivities get going in earnest, I thought I'd take this opportunity to analyze the starting lineups. To begin:
|Derek Jeter, SS|
|Alex Rodriguez, 3B|
|Jose Reyes, SS|
|Placido Polanco, 3B|
|Chipper Jones, 3B|
|Shane Victorino, CF|
|Justin Verlander, SP|
|Mariano Rivera, RP|
|CC Sabathia, SP|
Oh wait no that's a partial list of the All-Stars who won't be taking part. Here's what I wanted:
|AMERICNA LEAGUE||NATIONAL LEAGUE|
|Curtis Granderson, CF||Rickie Weeks, 2B|
|Asdrubal Cabrera, SS||Carlos Beltran, DH|
|Adrian Gonzalez, 1B||Matt Kemp, CF|
|Jose Bautista, RF||Prince Fielder, 1B|
|Josh Hamilton, LF||Brian McCann, C|
|Adrian Beltre, 3B||Lance Berkman, RF|
|David Ortiz, DH||Matt Holliday, LF|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||Troy Tulowitzki, SS|
|Alex Avila, C||Scott Rolen, 3B|
I know I misspelled "American" but watch me not fix it. Doesn't that just drive you bonkers? That would drive me bonkers.
What we see here are two lineups consisting of very good baseball players. It is a small wonder that lineups this good have been assembled. I think the advantage probably lies with oh my God damn goodness you have to see Eric Karros hair. Eric Karros never made an All-Star Game and from the looks of things he is trying his absolute damndest to make sure nobody forgets he was at this one.
Anyway the on-screen analysts keep referring to these lineups as deep, as if a lineup of All-Star players would ever not be deep. I don't know which is better. I don't care which is better, since players will start shuffling in and out after a few short innings. All that really matters is that it is 101 degrees in Phoenix, Arizona right now and Scott Rolen is 36 years old. The AL should bunt everything at third base until Rolen collapses and dies. Not that I want Scott Rolen to die, but I am a die-hard fan of the American League, so what happens happens.
Hello, and welcome to the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game! Just kidding, this is not the All-Star Game. But the All-Star Game is on television, and this is a blog post about it. This will also develop into a series of blog posts about it. By which I mean I am going to liveblog the All-Star Game, and you can follow along!
Some of the absolutely critical details:
Time: 8pm Eastern
Gameday link: hereabouts
Rosters and lineups: here you are
Unfortunately this post is going up too late to link to the MLB.com live stream of batting practice, but believe me, you missed out if you didn't see it. Here's what it looked like most recently:
And shortly before that:
A year ago, the National League beat the American League 3-1, after Brian McCann drilled a three-run double off Matt Thornton. Thornton is not on the All-Star team this time around, presumably because of that one incident, so look for the AL to resume its winning ways. It's also worth noting that last year's game ended at two hours and 59 minutes, which seems absolutely incredible. Wait a second, the All-Star Game before that went 2:31. Do these things really not regularly stretch for four hours? How do they not regularly stretch for four hours? They must just feel like four hours, because they are All-Star Games.
I hope you're ready for a game of baseball featuring between zero and several dozen of your favorite stars! A World Series game in either Philadelphia or Boston rests in the balance!
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