Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Who Needs a Break?

That got dangerously close to disaster territory for MLB. When the All-Star Game in Milwaukee ended in a 7-7 tie after 12 innings, the outcry across MLB was palpable. I for one didn't see the big hoopla considering the game is an exhibition game anyway but fans demanded there be a winner. That lead to the reactionary move of putting home field advantage at stake in the All Star Game, an idea that defies any sort of logic. As MLB is often criticized for, they continually trip over themselves when it comes to the All-Star Game. I for one have always been a fan of the idea of going to a "Home Run-Off" similar to a shootout in hockey to decide tie All-Star Games. That apparently is to gimmicky, but placing home field advantage in the most important game of the year, not gimmicky at all.

But the plan worked. No more ties, well-played games and on we went. Until last night when Terry Francona looked down at his bullpen around the 13th inning and realized that the only pitcher he had left was Scott Kazmir. Who threw 104 pitches on Sunday. And plays for a division rival. Clint Hurdle joked afterward (or maybe half joked) that David Wright was his emergency pitcher. One thing was for sure, this game had to come to a conclusion. This point was relayed to both dugouts during the later stages of the game last night. So what's more gimmicky? David Wright pitching to win home field advantage in the All-Star Game or a Home Run-Off?

Needless to say, as a fan, the game was thrilling. Some highlights:

- NL throws 2 guys out at home in the 10th with the bases loaded and no one out. This lead to the acrobatic play of Miguel Tejada, charging a slow grounder and throwing a bullet to first while falling down.

- Nate McCloth made a TREMENDOUS throw from Center Field to throw out the potential winning run. Russell Martin's scoop of the in between hop and blocking of the plate was equally impressive.

- Adrian Gonzalez played like 7 innings!!!! Nice game for AGon as he went 1-3 with an RBI (an RBI that, at the time, appeared to be the game winner). Lost in all this is the solid first base he played. In the 10th inning with the bases loaded, Russell Martin attempted to double up the hitter and appeared to slip as he threw. The throw was in the dirt and scooped nicely by AGon. Without that play the AL wins right there.

- If you stayed up to see it, George Sherrill formally introduced himself last night. 2 and a 1/3 innings pitched. Impressive display.

- All Michael Young does is win All-Star Games.

All in all, disaster was averted and the All-Star Game was what it is suppose to be. A showcase of the greatest sport in the world, played by the greatest players in the world.

Regular season starts up tomorrow and, sadly and amazingly, the Padres at 22 games under .500 are only 10 games out. Hopefully they give up that dream and let their young players play.

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