I rarely watch the All-Star Game anymore. Why watch your league either get their brains beat in, or lose late, year after year after year? I really did not even watch much of last year’s game, either – and it was in St Louis (I did watch that pre-game show, though).
So I had not planned to watch much of this year’s game either, and as it turned out, I didn’t have a chance to turn the tube on anyway. Until the bottom of the fifth, when I watched it long enough to see Dodger reliever Hong-Chih Kuo start Evan Longoria off 0-2 and come back to walk him. Then Joe Mauer hit a little nubber in front of the mound, which Kuo promptly air-mailed down the right field line. Great. Robinson Cano followed with a sac fly and a 1-0 lead. I turned it off. Here we go again.
Now, though, I had that same curiosity that killed the cat. The game came on again with Scott Rolen at third and Matt Holliday at first. I watched Marlon Byrd have the at-bat which changed the game against one of the elite relievers in the AL, Matt Thornton. Byrd started off 0-2, refused to swing at the high fastball, fouled two tough pitches off, and walked. McCann’s double happened two pitches later. Might as well watch the end of it now.
The rest of the game did not pass without incident. Matt “can’t catch a fly ball in Southern California” Holliday flubbed another ball in left, that was GENEROUSLY scored a double. Dude – this is the All-Star Game. The ball hit him in the glove. That’s an ERROR. Adam Wainwright hung out off the outside edge to righties, throwing a lot of balls, but survived thanks to Vernon “Hack’ Wells rolling the first pitch to short, and Torii Hunter flailing at two balls to strike out. I think, perhaps, the adrenalin of playing in his home ball park got to Hunter just a wee bit.
Jonathan Broxton did his level best to boost Maalox sales in the ninth. A solid single to right by David Ortiz. Adrian Beltre struck out. John Buck hit a dying quail to right, and Byrd made the play of the game this time, catching the ball on a bounce and gunning Ortiz at second. Ian Kinsler’s fly ball was well-struck, but Diamondback Chris Young ran it down to end it.
It’s nice to see, in a year dominated by pitching, the NL win – especially with all the pitching talent the NL had on display in this game. I facetiously thought the NL would never win another All-Star Game so long as Interleague play existed, seeing as the last NL win was 1996 and all. Guess not. All those soothsayers who thought the NL streak would end last year, well, they were almost right. In the year the NL broke the streak, the host team wore red, and the jerseys for the HR derby were red for the home team and blue for the visitors. Just off by a year.
Here’s one more odd thought to chew on: 1997 was at the height of steroids use in MLB. So the NL can’t win an All-Star game while steroid use is rampant. It’s a theory that offense is down this year because hitters have been off the juice long enough for their physiques to return to normal. Maybe the NL couldn’t win because they cheated less?
Note tongue planted firmly in cheek. Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds plied their trade in the NL after the 1997 All-Star game, so the NL was hardly innocent in all this.