And That Happened: All-Star Game Edition

I didn’t really live blog and didn’t even really keep too accurate a running diary. I mostly drank wine (like, a lot of wine) and cracked wise, occasionally remembering to write down my observations. And here they are:

  • If aliens came down from outer space and just looked at the starting lineups, they’d think it was the NL that owned the AL instead of vice-versa. Lots of depth behind the starters, sure, but I can’t recall such a weak AL starting lineup in recent years.
  • A study in contrasts: Pujols predictably gets a big ovation during player introductions. Then Braun is announced and he’s booed.
  • I really enjoyed all of the presidents talking during the everyday All-Stars thing. Am I nuts, or did Obama look like he’s growing a little mustache? If so, +100 for him. George W. Bush looks more relaxed than he’s been since his days as the Rangers’ owner, which is totally understandable. Maybe it’s because he’s living with his dad now. At least I assume he is, because both him and H.W. Bush were speaking from the same room. Nice callback by Bush Sr. to the “points of light” thing, by the way. That’s like a rapper sampling Young M.C. or something. Jimmy Carter is looking pretty spry. I think he’s going to break Hoover’s record for the most post-presidency years alive. Very underrated record, by the way.
  • Sheryl Crow did a good job on the anthem. Very businesslike. Almost makes up for the butchering she did of Dylan’s “Mississippi” a couple of years ago.
  • My wife checks in for a few minutes during pregame stuff. She sees Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst, Bruce Sutter and Ozzie Smith in their red blazers and says “who are those guys, real estate agents?” Mrs. Shyster, ladies and gentleman, killing baseball buzzes since 1991.
  • I love me some Stan Musial, though I wish he wasn’t in the golf cart. Reminds me of Ted Williams in the golf cart at the All-Star game in Boston several years back. The next time we thought of him after that was when he died and his son froze him in carbonite or whatever the hell it was. I’m a little sad now, realizing that we probably won’t see Stan the Man in public again.
  • I LOVE that Obama came out in his White Sox jacket. Clinton would have conducted focus groups before deciding what to wear. Bush would have worn a bomber jacket or something. Obama is a fan, and no matter what your politics are, you have to respect that. As for his pitch: Eh, it was a lollipop job that made Tim Robbins in “Bull Durham” look like Roger Clemens, but at least it went over the plate. Unless Greg Maddux ever becomes president, I think George W. is going to hold the record for the sharpest Commander-in-Chief first pitch.
  • More Mrs. Shyster: “‘Joe Buck?’ Is that really his name? That sounds like a porn star’s name or maybe a male prostitute. ‘Midnight Cowboy II’ starring Joe Buck as . . . Joe Buck.” You’re starting to see why I love this woman dearly.
  • Two pitches into the game and the uber-creative FOX graphics team has already kept us from seeing a pitch. Thanks, guys.
  • Lincecum plunks Jeter. It was an 81 MPH pitch. I want to believe it was intentional, but Timmy looks wild enough tonight where we can’t be sure. Someone talk to Matt Cain and see if he really did have the leash on all day.
  • Pujols commits an error, and then the next play Lincecum fails to cover the bag. We may see Timmy and Albert fight here pretty soon. This could be hard for me, though, because I love both of those guys. I’m an underdog guy, so I suppose I have to root for Lincecum if they start raining blows down upon one another.
  • Obama in the broadcast booth is pretty sweet. First he hates on the Nationals, and then he says that “we’re out of money.” If nothing else you have to applaud him for his honesty. As all that’s happening, Roy Halladay is roughed up.
  • Third inning, and Ryan Franklin is pitching. Really? If you’re managing the NL is Ryan Franklin the second guy you have on the mound? Haven’t the Cardinals fans had enough pandering over the past couple of days? OK, fine, he sets the AL down 1-2-3, so what do I know?
  • I blinked twice and missed the entire half inning pitched by Mark Buehrle. I really, really like that guy. I wish everyone pitched like him.
  • Based on the trailer, the “G.I. Joe” movie looks like the worst piece of excrement ever committed to celluloid. They could have done better by simply making a live-action version of that multi-part episode of the cartoon where Shipwreck wakes up with amnesia and is married with a family and everything. Don’t look at me that way. You know which one I’m talking about.
  • Zack Greinke makes David Wright and Shane Victorino look really, really bad. Too bad his talents are being wasted in Kansas City.
  • I’m rally mad at Ichiro for fouling off the pitch on which Carl Crawford was trying to steal, because I wanted to see a Molina vs. Crawford showdown. Alas, I had to settle for Chase Utley’s nice play in the hole throwing out Crawford at second.
  • Jumping to the sixth inning, I feel it’s time to note, once again, that Adam Jones is the spitting image of Eric Davis. I wish I got more Orioles games where I am, because I think I’d enjoy the hell out of seeing him play every day. By the way, this game is humming right along. Just think: if it didn’t take 50 minutes to get through the pregame show, we’d all be able to go to bed at a decent hour tonight.
  • Pujols finishes his night 0-3 with what will prove to be a costly error, but a couple of gems on defense as well. Go home and sleep now, Albert. You’ve been a fabulous host for two days, but the Cards need you healthy and rested for the second half.
  • AAAAARRGGH! Who in the hell is the scary bald guy in the suit, and why is there an ultra-up-close shot of him going to commercial? He will haunt my dreams for weeks.
  • Pujols being interviewed by Eric Karros:
  • Karros: So, does the best player in the game get butterflies?

    Pujols: I don’t think I’m the best player in the game.

    Karros: Albert, we are men of action. Lies do not become us.

    OK, that’s not really what Karros said, but he should have.

  • Sweet snag of a would-be home run by Carl Crawford off of Brad Hawpe. Methinks that may be important. Then Tejada nails the next pitch to the wall as well. Buck calls Papelbon “automatic” but he’s kind of scary if you ask me, even if he is effective. Inning ends with Jason Werth striking out. Matt Kemp wouldn’t have done that.
  • Heath Bell is just a ridiculous human being. He’s just big and choppy and sloppy out there, like he’s with the Gashouse Gorillas or something. Oh, and he gives up a triple to Curtis Granderson. Wait, let’s not blame Bell for that. Let’s blame Jason Werth, who failed to hit the cutoff man. If he had, Granderson possibly stops at second or gets gunned down at third. Again, I must ask if Matt Kemp would have done that.
  • Granderson goes on to score on the sac fly. 4-3 A.L. with Joe Nathan and Mariano Rivera waiting in the wings. Remember what I said about the A.L.’s depth? Nathan and Rivera > Heath Bell and whoever the hell is left in the N.L. bullpen, and that’s gonna be huge.
  • Brian McCann fouls out, and thus endeth the Braves’ contributions to the 2009 All-Star Game. Now we just wait until Tommy Hanson gets the start in 2010.
  • Ryan Howard finally gets in the game as a pinch hitter. Is it just me, or does Howard look thinner than he’s been in some time? No matter, he gets a big ovation from The Best Fans In Baseball. Then he looks absolutely horrible swinging at garbage in the dirt from Joe Nathan.
  • We’re in the ninth and Morneau flies out to center. Nice catch by Werth. I think Kemp would have caught it too, however.
  • Mariano Rivera is in by the way. You know what’s coming and you can’t do anything about it.
  • Upton grounds out . . .
  • Hawpe strikes out . . .
  • Tejada pops out . . . ballgame.
  • AL wins again, which is fairly depressing for an NL Fan like me. Still, when you see Mariano Rivera closing it out, you have to appreciate how the currents of history are flowing these days. In 50 years, people are going to think about the mid-90s to the late oughts as a time when giants named Rivera and Jeter roamed the Earth, and games like this one are going to form the chronicle. To have interlopers like Francisco Cordero and Brad Hawpe screw with that narrative simply won’t do, and we as NL fans have to accept that.

    All in all a good game. Brisk. No silliness about everyone getting in the game. It felt like real baseball and looked like real baseball. I don’t have any complaints. Good show Messers Manuel and Maddon. Crawford wins the MVP. He’s as good a choice as any.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pass out somewhere.


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    Matt in Toledo
    Guest
    Matt in Toledo

    The bald guy was a character from Fringe. In the show, he’s on the fringes (NPI) of all the freakish occurences. You know, like giving a guy the MVP for a defensive play. It was just Fox doing their usual self-promotion. I thought it was done better than usual, though. Obviously, it got people wondering and asking the question FOX wanted them asking.

    Dave Studeman
    Guest
    Dave Studeman

    Thanks, David.  Didn’t watch ESPN.  I was talking about the Fox commentators.

    Upton not having played left before is an excuse, but doesn’t change the fact that he misplayed it.  And Werth sort of had him backed up, but only because the ball happened to ricochet in his direction.  A few inches to the left and it would have hit the pole in such a way that it would have ricocheted into left, inside-the-park-HR.

    Jacob
    Guest
    Jacob

    I was really hoping that Obama was growing a mustache, but there didn’t seem to be any evidence of it when he was in the booth.  American presidents have been sorely lacking in facial hair for nearly 100 years.  If anyone can bring it back, it’s Obama.

    J.W.
    Guest
    J.W.
    Isn’t it obvious that the umpire awarded Jeter first base as a way to make up for Marty Foster’s blown call at 3rd?? This wasn’t a case of an umpire making up his own rules, it was a case of an umpire striking out against injustice! It was a subversive act, a way of saying, “No, MLB, I will not stand for the awful, earth shaking, evil, terrible, horrible, awful, earth shaking (oh am I repeating myself? no, I couldn’t possibly be doing that) outrage that was perpetrated! I will, in my own way, take a stand against what is… Read more »
    Dan
    Guest
    Dan

    The scary bald guy!  I was thinking the same thing!

    David
    Guest
    David

    Take note, Selig & Co.:

    You can fix games, you can order your umps to discard the rules, and you can have your announcers tell bald-faced lies.  And what will be the reaction from your customers, Bud?  Silence and bad jokes (and I mean really bad jokes).

    Go on, Bud.  Keep fixing them.  You have nothing to fear from the media or your impotent American customers.

    Redsauce
    Guest
    Redsauce

    I did a quick google search on the freaky bald guy—he might be on Fox’s show ‘Fringe’.  I’ve never seen it, but it looks like him.
    Fox is probably doing some sort of tie-in where the footage will be worked into an episode of Fringe (and thereby doing a disservice to fans who just want to watch the All-Star game).

    lar
    Guest
    lar

    There were three intentional walks in last year’s All Star Game alone. Overall, the IBB to Martinez last night was the 25th All Star Game IBB of all time. Before last year, though, it hadn’t happened since Rafael Palmiero was intentionally walked in 1991. There are some great names on the intentional walked list – Reggie, Kid Griffey, Boggs, Yount, Musial – but there are also a few not so great – Bob Cerv, Tim Wallach, Johnny Edwards.

    You can see the full list here.

    Mike Lamone
    Guest
    Mike Lamone

    Royal fans need to have someone to love and Greinke is a good one. Be thankful Greinke is a Royal or you would have to watch Billy Butler

    Jeremy
    Guest
    Jeremy

    Howard has indeed lost weight this year, something like 20 lbs. Phillies fans were all abuzz in spring training about how he and Brett Myers had slimmed down.

    MooseinOhio
    Guest
    MooseinOhio

    Joe Buck the pornstar – loved it.

    Gashouse Gorillas reference – even better.

    As for the parallels between Stan the Man and Teddy Ballgame, completely agree and hopefully Stan does not have a punk*** son that decapitates and freezes him.

    Andrew
    Guest
    Andrew

    The bald guy was a marketing thing for the TV show Fringe. Fox did the same thing during the NFL playoffs IIRC, and it’s kind of cool in a viral marketing sort of way, but it won’t tie into an episode or anything. It’s just marketing, albeit without the actual marketing.

    David
    Guest
    David
    Jeremy: Please contact the admins here at THT and have your post deleted.  And then, never, ever, under any circumstances, repeat, re-type, rewrite, or even re-think what you just said about Ryan Howard “losing weight”.  A non-Caucasian slugger losing weight excites Lupica, Plaschke, Olney, and the rest of the “steroid” hysterics more than Jeff Gannon in a speedo excited the neo-cons in the Bush administration.  Because of your irresponsible comment, we’ll soon find ourselves clicking on ESPN in hopes of catching highlights from the day’s baseball games and instead we’ll find only a loop of clips of Ryan Howard mashing… Read more »
    J.W.
    Guest
    J.W.
    The best thing about the zoo was that when you’d poke the monkeys they’d get all angry and bark and shout and throw feces at you. What they didn’t realize was that it’s not the poking that’s fun, it’s watching the ensuing reaction. Anyway I speak as someone with tongue firmly in cheek and a big, friendly, happy smile (which is pretty hard to do actually, lots of facial muscles involved), someone who enjoys gentle mockery (both dishing out and receiving) and mild mischief but has no desire to rile anyone up too much or to give offense. All comments… Read more »
    Connecticut Mike
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    Connecticut Mike

    Three reflections on the GI Joe cartoon:

    1.  I had no idea there were only two seasons of GI Joe, it seemed to be on forever when I was a kid.

    2.  They made 55 episodes the first year!  That is damned impressive.

    3.  I’ve always been partial to the episode where they load apples in the guns and fire them into the giant blob in order to kill it with the tiny amount of arsenic contained in an apple seed.

    Motherscratcher
    Guest
    Motherscratcher
    The creepy bald guy, as other have pointed out, is from Fringe.  I’m not sure how well this is promoting the show as the only people who recognize him would be people who already watch it.  It’s like they are counting on morons with names taken from Coen brothers masterpieces to go on popular blogs to explain who the guy was to those too intelligent to watch the show in the first place.  I seriously doubt that would happen. Fox pulled the same stunt during an episode of American Idol.  (Yeah I watch it.  Don’t judge me.  It’s the only… Read more »
    TomG
    Guest
    TomG

    Speaking of Shipwreck…I don’t know if you’ve ever seen any of the Fensler re-cuts of the old GI Joe PSAs but they’re utterly hilarious:

    Shipwreck:

    video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6636860975821362149

    TomG
    Guest
    TomG

    Whoops…here’s a better link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-_AVXKcAHw

    Sara K
    Guest
    Sara K

    Did anyone else find it exceedingly odd that the Fox camera didn’t get Pujols into the frame for the First Pitch?  I mean, really?  We saw the throw, but not the catch?  Very strange!

    David
    Guest
    David
    Sara K: Clearly, hiding the pitch is a common strategy now.  George W. Bush threw out the first pitch at the Ranger’s home opener.  The team website was ga-ga for this, featuring Bush – and not the players – as the lead graphic on their site.  They had multiple news stories about it. But when you clicked on the video, they always showed the pitch from a knee-high camera angle looking up at Bush.  Then, the MLB Network did the exact same thing. I guess they know that Americans are petty enough to believe that a ceremonial first pitch is… Read more »
    Eric Stephen
    Guest
    Eric Stephen

    Ryan: “Matt Kemp would not have struck out.  He would not have gotten into the game either.  The guy is an overrated scrub who feasts on the pitching of the Padres and Rockies.”

    Matt Kemp 2009:
    vs. SD/Col: .290/.383/.462
    vs. The Rest: .332/.384/.509

    David
    Guest
    David

    I’m sorry, but those G.I. Joe spoofs have nothing going for them besides nostalgia triggers.  I watched four of them and I think I found one that had anything remotely resembling a joke (your Shipwreck one).  They’re just vacuums that people project humor into because they know that they’re supposed to laugh.  But they’re still just vacuums.

    But as long as we’re talking 1980’s pop culture, I hope that somebody mentions Star Wars so that I get a chance to plug my new and improved Star Wars mini documentary!!!

    David
    Guest
    David

    Way to go, Eric Stephen. 

    And even if, hypothetically, Kemp were feasting on the NL West, the West is the best division in the NL, based upon inter-divisional play.

    NL East: .463
    NL Central: .508
    NL West: .533

    The Rockies would probably be leading the East by a few games, as they’re above .500 against both the Central and the East.

    Motherscratcher
    Guest
    Motherscratcher

    David, you seem to be a lot more worked up about meaningless and retarded ceremonial first pitches than any other petty Americans I’ve come across.

    David
    Guest
    David

    Motherscratcher:

    Well, since all I did was try to end any discussion about ceremonial first pitches, I’d think that I would “seem” to be worked up in the other direction. 

    But if I wasn’t clear before, I’ll be clear now: I have absolutely no desire to analyze ceremonial first pitches.

    Sorry for the confusion, glad to have the chance to clear it up.

    george
    Guest
    george

    Matt Kemp vs.

    Western Division: .293/.365/.446/.811
    Everyone else: .343/.413/.537/.950

    Makes you appreciate the N.L. West’s pitching just a little more… Giants are in virtual tie for second best record in N.L., and Rockies are two games behind them.

    Brian
    Guest
    Brian

    I hate you for bringing up that episode of GI Joe.  It never sat right with me and always creeped me out.

    Ryan
    Guest
    Ryan

    A few comments about your post…

    -Albert, we are men of action. Lies do not become us.  Nice.  Very nice.

    -You said methinks. People only say that when they have had too much wine to drink.

    -Matt Kemp would not have struck out.  He would not have gotten into the game either.  The guy is an overrated scrub who feasts on the pitching of the Padres and Rockies.

    -Jayson Werth knows where you live.

    Dan
    Guest
    Dan

    “Mariano Rivera is in by the way. You know what’s coming and you can’t do anything about it.”

    I don’t know why the NL fans just didn’t leave after the eighth inning. Mo proves, once again, why he is… Mo.

    Dennis Koziel
    Guest
    Dennis Koziel

    I love the fact that the Fox announcers referred to the President as a “Lefty” and no one cackled at the comment.  But I’m glad they didn’t.  Baseball is no place for politics.  It’s too important.  The “hit by pitch” situation could have been worse.  Colorado’s own BoB Davidson could have been behind the plate and he would have warned both benches after blowing the call.

    Dr Paisley
    Guest
    Dr Paisley

    St. Derrick was not hit. The pitch hit the knob of his bat (not a euphemism, especially since Slappy Rodriguez was not involved). His 50’’ stagger was classic Yankee-begging.

    Michael Rawdon
    Guest
    Michael Rawdon

    Fourth 1-run All-Star Game in a row.  What’s up with that?

    Alan
    Guest
    Alan

    I’d pay to read a live blog by your wife.

    That G.I. Joe movie is from the director of “The Mummy,” by the way. In case you weren’t already geeked enough.

    Nick Whitman
    Guest
    Nick Whitman
    I officially despise Joe Maddon now.  Tim Wakefield absolutely deserved a chance to pitch.  Of anyone there, I guarantee that it would have meant the most to him to get in the game.  That All-Star nod was essentially a lifetime achievement award for a guy who never complains or has a bad word for anybody and has never conducted himself with anything but class. It was Halladay’s sixth appearance.  Buerhle, papelbon and Nathan have four All-Star games under their belts.  Jackson, Hernandez and Greinke are all young and will be back if they keep up the excellent pitching. And Rivera… Read more »
    Scarf
    Guest
    Scarf

    Nick: I understand where you’re coming from (as I myself also wanted to see Wake pitch), but from a practical standpoint only Mauer out of the AL’s catchers has any experience catching the knuckler, and even that’s limited because RA Dickey is a fairly little-used reliever. Trusting a guy in Martinez who is still ailing with Wakefield might not have been the best thing to do.

    brian
    Guest
    brian

    Howard did those Subway commercials with Jared….

    David
    Guest
    David
    “Lincecum plunks Jeter. It was an 81 MPH pitch. I want to believe it was intentional, but Timmy looks wild enough tonight where we can’t be sure. Someone talk to Matt Cain and see if he really did have the leash on all day.” What is going on?  Am I in ‘The Twilight Zone’?  The ball hit the bat.  Yet the announcers (predictably), ‘Prospectus’, and now THT all go along with this silliness.  I’ve seen that play happen numerous times and every single time it’s a foul ball.  It’s completely indisputable that the ball hit the bat.  It ricocheted solidly… Read more »
    Steini's Famous Garbage Pitch
    Guest
    Steini's Famous Garbage Pitch

    Any Pitch F/X analysis on Obama’s changeup yet?

    And I really didn’t enjoy seeing Stan Musial in a golf cart.

    Nick Whitman
    Guest
    Nick Whitman

    Slightly less angry at Joe Maddon today.  Saving Wakefield as the long man makes sense, certainly, although he could have let Wakefield face the last batter or something.  Mariano Rivera’s ego really doesn’t need to be stroked at every given opportunity, in my opinion.

    I think it really just sucks that making the All-Star Game “count” robbed Tim Wakefield of his one chance to pitch in one.  So I guess Bud Selig is to blame, as he is for so very many things.

    I’ll just have to hate Joe Maddon simply for being part of the loathsome Devil Rays organization.

    Nate
    Guest
    Nate

    Geez, heaven forbid the greatest closer of all time (and still extremely effective) get to close out the All Star Game. AFAIC, until he doesn’t deserve a spot on the team, he gets the call.

    J.R.
    Guest
    J.R.

    “Now we just wait until Tommy Hanson gets the start in 2010.”

    You’re right, you did drink a lot of wine.

    The Commish
    Guest
    The Commish

    Dave and David:
    I couldn’t agree more about the Jeter non-HBP. Imagine if the same thing happened to someone like A-Rod? The announcers would be all over him, questioning how he could take first base in an All-Star Game when he knows he didn’t get hit.  I rant a lot more about this on my blog, and I posted the video of the Jeter non-HBP as well.

    http://www.thecommishonline.com

    James
    Guest
    James

    Seriously. Who was the bald guy? He freaked me out.

    DGL
    Guest
    DGL

    The other reason I believe Wakefield didn’t pitch was that Maddon was saving him in case the game went into extra innings.  I mean, who better to have as your emergency long guy than a knuckleballer who could go out and throw 150 pitches on Tuesday, then go back out on Thursday and throw another 120 if he had to?

    Dave Studeman
    Guest
    Dave Studeman

    I agree 100% about Jeter’s supposed HBP. And how come no one has talked about Upton’s awful play on Granderson’s triple?  He totally misplayed that ball and the announcers only mentioned Werth missing the cutoff man.  Plus, if the ball had ricocheted in the other direction, we’re talking inside the park HR.

    David
    Guest
    David
    Dave Studeman: Thank you for your support on the flagrantly horrible ruling on the Jeter “Hit by pitch”.  (Frankly, it’s so obvious that there should be unanimous disgust, but I guess people just love the umpires, as the Men With Power, that they think that telling the truth about them is heretical.) I have to disagree with your critique of Upton’s misplay.  First off, it was heavily discussed in ESPN.  Secondly, it was a line drive to the warning track that would probably have been a hit 75% of the time under any circumstances.  Thirdly, as ESPN pointed out, Upton… Read more »
    ElBonte
    Guest
    ElBonte

    That’s the first time I can remember seeing an IBB in an all-star game.  Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bonds was IBB’d once or twice as a pseudo-joke.

    I’m pretty sure I saw Victor Martinez look into the NL dugout like “You guys are really walking me in the All-Star game?”  I’m sure that was TLR’s influence on Manuel.

    mike in brooklyn
    Guest
    mike in brooklyn

    The bald guy also seemed to be turning his head ever-so-slightly giving him an added feeling of being an animotronic security guard or something.  Quite freaky.  He also reminded me of the guy from The Prisoner who would say “Red ALert.  Red Alert” into the phone and then Rover would show up.

    And if I remember correctly, Howard got a big hand when introduced before the game too?  Doe anyone know why that is?  What’s the St Louis—Ryan howard connection?

    ElBonte
    Guest
    ElBonte

    mike in brooklyn:
    Howard was born in St. Louis and went to Missouri State University.

    Ryan
    Guest
    Ryan

    Searching for a Matt Kemp comeback…can’t find any…he is legitimately destructive against East and Central opponents and outside of his home ballpark when looking at OPS.  Should have done the research first, but then the comments wouldn’t be as much fun would they?

    Spiral Stairs
    Guest
    Spiral Stairs

    “I LOVE that Obama came out in his White Sox jacket. Clinton would have conducted focus groups before deciding what to wear”

    Don’t forget that Clinton openly rooted for the Razorbacks back in their glory years in the 90s. He actually got some flack for this. If I recall correctly, one of the announcers (can’t remember exactly who)during the ‘94 NCAA final game said “Doesn’t the president realize that Duke is in the United States too?”

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