Wednesday, July 16, 2008

And That Happened -- All-Star Game Liveblog Edition

AL 4, NL 3: Since I'm posting this after the game has ended, I shouldn't really call this a live blog. It's more of a "filmed in front of a live studio audience" blog. Rest assured, however, that I typed all of this as events unfolded and didn't go back and change anything.

INTRO

James Earl Jones? Man, they're not kidding around with this Yankee Stadium Is Really Important stuff.

RED CARPET PARADE

Why I watched this silliness I have no idea, but I did.

Dennis Eckersley: still rocking the mullet after all of these years. That's gutsy. I like it.

Whitey Ford: I hope he was pulling Grace's leg when he said that he couldn't remember the 1960 World Series ("How'd we make out?"), but I'm not entirely sure.

A-Rod: Completely incapable of banter. And he stole Jeter's line about not wanting to say what he's going to take from Yankee stadium because he planned to steal it. He's such a great player that I so want to like him, but he just makes it impossible.

The baseball luminaries are riding in 100 Chevy Silverados. Baseball's carbon footprint is taking a beating this evening.

This thing reminds me of the Macy's parade. I hope I didn't tune in too late to see the David Wells balloon.

Reggie Jackson: Do people in Oakland get mad that Reggie never seems to acknowledge his time with the A's? It's always New York, New York, New York. Dude won three rings in Oakland. What gives?

Adam Rubin, the "Take Me Out the Ballgame" contest winner gave what was perhaps the worst rendition of the song I have ever heard. My son does a version of it making nothing but fart noises and it sounded better than that.

Mike Schmidt: He's talking about the "National League dominance" of the All-Star game back when he played and his desire for it to return, and he sounds quite serious. What has happened to this game? Back then it allegedly didn't count, so why doesn't anyone seem to care all that much about it anymore?

Ernie Banks holding Fukudome's baby daughter is probably the Cubs picture of the year.

Mars Blackmon has put on a bit of weight over the past 20 years, hasn't he?

PREGAME

All of the Hall of Famers from the parade assembled out in left field before the game. Fun Fact: If a bomb went off in left right now, Cookie Rojas would officially be The Greatest Living Baseball Player.

Holy cow, does Gaylord Perry look bad. Bob Feller looks younger than he does. Seriously kids, stay away from the spitballs, they'll suck your life force away.

I'm a bit surprised at how tepid the applause for Steinbrenner-on-the-golf-cart was. Sure, there's a lot of reason to hate the guy, but isn't that pretty much water under the bridge at this point? Especially in New York? The only guy I know who still holds anything against Big Stein is Repoz.

THE GAME

Starts at 8:47pm. I think they needed to add a few more Hall of Famers to make the pregame an even hour. Sheesh.

First Inning

Cliff Lee strikes out Ramirez and Utley. If he gets Foxx, Simmons, and Cronin next he'll make history. Berkman flies out. Oh well.

Jeter steals second after getting a man-sized jump off Ben Sheets. Someone should tell Ben that this game counts.

Second Inning

A-Rod's white shoes are a bold choice, but it is before Labor Day, so they're fair game I suppose.

Sheets drops an F-bomb after walking Milton Bradley. I take it back. He does care.

Milton Bradley steals second. That's surprising, especially given the ACL and everything. Is Francona turning them loose or are they freelancing?

Ned Yost is at home watching Ben Sheets throw 42 pitches and not enjoying it one bit.

Third Inning

Japanese characters for Fukudome's name and stat graphics. Cute.

Yogi Berra just called Joe Buck "Jack." Yogi seems lucid, so it can't be a medical condition, but Lord help me, I can't think of what else would cause anyone to confuse such disparate talents like that.

Ichiro doesn't get the Japanese characters. I guess you're no longer a racial novelty if you've been around eight years.

Joe Buck on Hamilton: "Three years ago he was a drug addict, smoking crack, taking pills, drinking booze, has all the tattoos on his arm . . . twenty-six of 'em, he regrets every one of 'em." The drug stuff is obviously awful, but given how much Buck overreacts and moralizes about silly things, I can't help but think he believes the tattoos are every bit as bad as the crack. Whatever the case, you have to wonder how many times we'll see Hamilton play on a national broadcast before they start talking more about his baseball abilities and career than his drug use.

Fourth Inning

Ichiro nails Pujols trying to stretch a double! Wait! Replay! Actually, I think Pujols beat the tag. Still a great throw. And let's be fair: for as much crap as we all give the Fox telecasts, that was good camera work, both in the outfield and at the bag.

Zambrano loops a slow curve over Manny's head. I'd love to see him put the helmet on backwards a la Larry Walker v. Randy Johnson back in the day.

Milton Bradley picked off first after reaching on an error to end the inning. At this rate there's a non-trivial chance that the game will be shorter than the combined red carpet/pregame stuff.

Fifth Inning

Francona goes with the second Angels pitcher in a row, first Saunders, now Santana. I'm guessing that Francona knows that the Sox are likely to meet the Angels in the ALCS and is trying to wear out their pitchers' arms.

Matt Holliday belts a dinger off of Ervin Santana. Mets blogs immediately come to life, begging Omar to trade for him.

Danny Haren (neck beard) v. Kevin Youkilis (dead badger on chin) has to be the worst facial hair matchup in an All-Star Game since at least the 70s.

Speaking of the 70s, I feel like I'm in them right now, what with three stolen bases and everything, this one from Ian Kinsler.

First Jeter grounds into a double play, and now he bounces to the mound with a runner on second. Clutch. God.

Sixth Inning

Some hit and run action with Ramirez in motion and a Chase Utley hit to right, followed by Berkman flying out long to center, Ramirez tagging up, and its now 2-0 NL.. I can't remember the last time I saw a low-scoring, strategy-oriented game in Yankee Stadium. If this was a Yanks-Sox game we'd still be in the second inning.

Justin Duchscherer is the first guy to come in and not be throwing bullets. I have this vague feeling that Chipper is going to get an extra base hit here. Let's watch . . .

. . . Ok, maybe not. He strikes out Jones and gets Holliday to fly out, trouble over. Don't look at me like that. I said it was a vague feeling.

Josh Hamilton steals second for the fourth SB of the night for the AL. You wonder if Francona's running strategy here isn't some form of acting out against Theo Epstein and Bill James and those sabermetric guys back at Sox HQ.

Seventh Inning

1-2-3 for the NL in the top of the inning, and here comes "God Bless America." Man, I wish we could get past this somehow. But wait -- where's that tenor the Yankees always send out there? If you're ever going to get people (like me) to quit complaining about that song taking the place of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" you're going to have to at least keep some consistency about it all.

Dioner Navarro pinch hits for Jason Varitek, and somehow Francona is now down to one bench player. How on Earth did that happen? Aren't the managers usually struggling to figure out how to get everyone in?

J.D. Drew jacks one out to right. Tie game. If this one goes extras, will Francona wish he had some more players available?

Eighth Inning

Papelbon is getting the jeering of the night from the New York crowd. All of this over a stupid Daily News story which, from the sound of it, was a mountain out of a molehill kind of a thing. You always hear about how smart Yankee fans are, but if they're so smart, why can't they ever see through their tabloids' garbage?

Tejada steals second base and takes third on a bad throw by Navarro, and then he scores the go-ahead run on a shallow fly from Adrian Gonzalez. The crowd boos Papelbon as though he walked the bases loaded and the run in. Whatever.

Billy Wagner comes in for the NL. Clint Hurdle must be getting a cut of the extra-inning commercial revenue.

Sizemore singles, steals second, Longoria hits a double, and yep, it's tied. I swear on the life of my children that I wrote that previous comment before the hit happened.

Ninth Inning

Francona substitutes a Yankee in/out in the middle of the inning for the third time, this time Rivera. Pretty classy move on Tito's part, ya know?

Strike-em-out-throw-em-out. Bottom of the ninth, here we come! It strikes me that the NL just doesn't have the arms left that the AL does. I have a feeling this game is going to end really soon.

I'm wrong for about the zillionth time tonight: the AL goes quietly. Extra innings.

Tenth Inning

Martin and Tejada reach with one out and now there are runners on the corners with Dan Uggla coming up. Maybe Papelbon should have been closing . . .

Uggla grounds into a double play.

Uggla boots a grounder.

Uggla lets one go through the wickets.

Ken Rosenthal shows up on cue to remind everyone how important it was to Uggla's father that Uggla play this game in Yankee Stadium.

It's getting Uggla.

After an intentional walk to load the bases, Grady Sizemore steps in to face Aaron Cook as the clock strikes midnight. Yeah, I got a shiver. Sue me.

Sizemore hits it straight to Uggla! Oh, he made the play, runner out at home. Bases are still loaded with one out, though. Evan Longoria is up.

Another short grounder, another out at the plate. Man!

Grounder to Tejada, great play! Uggla is off the hook. He's going to buy Aaron cook a beer after this one is over.

11th Inning

Nothin' doin' for the NL. Lots of talk by Buck and McCarver about teams running out of pitchers and tie games and stuff. I'll be honest: I'm gettin' scared.

Kinsler reaches, tries to steal and is called out despite Tejada failing to get the tag on him. Don't the umpires realize that this game needs to end at some point?

Navarro reaches, Drew singles. Runners on first and second with one out for Michael Young. With Navarro on second and no pinch runners available, Young is going to need a double, I would think.

Yep. Young hits a single and Navarro is thrown out at home. Again, I swear I wrote that before it happened. It's up to Carlos Quentin now. If he doesn't get a hit, it's gonna get really scary in the Selig box.

And we're on to the 12th. My alarm is set to go off in less than five hours. I'm totally loving this game, but I'm going to be totally hating life tomorrow morning.

12th Inning

Kinsler lollygags on a bunt by McLouth, and then Morneau fields a bunt that would have gone foul to put runners on second and third with one out. Intentional walk, and now it's Uggla time again.

Remember that stuff about this being a short game? Well, we're at 3:43 now. I blame the presence of Texas Rangers' players.

Uggla strikes out on three pitches. He'd probably like to forget this game.

All Star George Sherrill is on to pitch, and given that the only one left for the AL is Scott Kazmir -- who wasn't supposed to pitch tonight -- you have to figure that this is Sherrill's game to win or lose.

Bottom of the 12th, and Carlos Guillen almost hits it out to left. Sizemore moves him over to third on a fielder's choice, however, and we're one long out away from sleep, er, I mean the ending of an exciting All-Star game . . .

Longoria strikes out . . .Morneau is walked . . .and Kinsler grounds out. No one on the AL can hit the damn ball out of the infield tonight. I have to admit, we're approaching a decisionmaking point here re: whether I need to pull the ripcord on this game.

Screw it. I can sleep during my drive up to Cleveland tomorrow. Sure, I'm driving alone, but I-71 is a pretty straight freeway.

13th Inning

I've been up for nearly 20 straight hours and I'm forcing myself to watch (a) All-Star George Sherrill pitch; and (b) listen to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver broadcast. I must be truly ill. The NL does nothing in the 13th. Here's hoping for a quick tater by the AL in the bottom half. Given that we're facing the 17th Dioner Navarro at bat of the game, however, I am not optimistic.

Navarro grounds out, but then Drew reaches on yet another Dan Uggla error. This guy can't have that many lives left, can he? This one is going to have to come back to haunt him, right?

Nope. It won't. Christ. This is getting kinda awful.

14th Inning

The NL is smarter than me. They've gone to sleep.

The Diamondbacks brass have to be happy about seeing Brandon Webb go on one day's rest. Doesn't seem to phase him though, as he strikes out two and gets another on a liner to short. Those sinkerballers don't need no rest, I tells ya! Me neither! I'll never sleep again!

15th Inning

Kazmir is in now. He's also on one day's rest. Rosenthal is a beast. He texted the Rays' GM during the game to get what sounded like a pretty disapproving comment from him re: Scotty pitching in this one. Wanna make the second half interesting Terry Francona? Blow Kazmir's elbow out and go on to win the Al East by a game or two over the Rays!

The good thing about the length of the game is that all of the Hall of Famers from the red carpet show will soon be waking up and will be able to see the end of it over their shredded wheat and prune juice. Someone's gonna have to tell Banks that they didn't play two; they just never finished one.

Brad Lidge is pitching now. Quick -- someone trade Pujols to an AL team so we can end this game.

Great catch of a sinking liner by Ryan Ludwick. I am ashamed to admit that I was hoping it would scoot through and roll to the wall. This game hasn't quite beaten my love of baseball out of me, however, so I can still appreciate that it was a damn good catch.

Terry Francona looks like he's about to barf up a lung. J.D. Drew walks to load the bases with one out. If form holds, Michael Young will chop one to short . . .

Shallow fly to right! Morneau scores!! Ballgame!!! AL wins again!!!!

I'd wrap this up with something pithy, but I got nothin'.

Night folks.

28 comments:

bigcatasroma said...

Re: "NY fans are smart fans." It ANGERS me, I mean, red face angers me, when I hear the term "smart fans," especially from media folk, especially referring to cities such as Boston, NY, and especially my own Philadelphia. Just because fans are LOUD, think they remember that triple play on July 4th, '77, or can decipher the difference between a cutter and a split finger from the bleachers does NOT MAKE THEM SMART! It makes them loud and assenine. I feel like this trend, perpetuated on talk radio and in those tabloids that Craig references, is OUT OF HAND. It makes me NUTS!!! If the national sports media is anything to go by, which it probably could be(since they are writing for these very fans), most fans couldn't find OPS+ out of a paper bag, let alone explain why maybe RBI is not a good indicator of performance. It's like reverse stereotyping --- I for one, a Philadelphia native, REFUSE to be grouped with the "good, passionate, smart . . ." and whatever else tag that the group of "typical" Philadelphia fan is called by sports media. There is no typical Philadelphia sports fan, and if there is, I do not fit in that group, and I CERTAINLY wouldn't classify that group as "smart" or "passionate" just because they scream about batting average and boo Pat Burrell the loudest -- yeah, Pat Burrell of the .850-1.000 OPS fame, is like on his 8th year of "last years" in Philadelphia. DRIVES ME NUTS!!! I'll stop rambling now . . .

Daniel said...

Actually, I'm pretty impressed, Craig. For an old guy like you, you kept it fresh up to the end. The Banks quip had me laughing out loud (which at midnight out here almost woke up my kids, which would have meant my wife ending my commenting privileges forever by means of chopping off my hands).

I didn't get to watch until the 7th inning, but it appears I saw the best 9 innings there were. Francona's mismanagement of the bench left no one to run for Navarro, but McClouth still gets credit for a money throw (even though it looks like he got in under the tag). And I kept waiting and waiting on that last play for Morneau to enter the picture. Unhitch the caboose man!

Best All Star game in the last few years, in my opinion.

William said...

I think your comment about Francona's running strategy is off-base this year. Check out who is #2 in the AL in steals this season.

Matt said...

Some in the mainstream media keep talking about the Red Sox high SB total and going "a-ha! They aren't playing 'Moneyball' (a term I can't stand). They're in first place because of small ball."

Of course these people never read 'Moneyball,' and don't realize that Billy Beane and his loyal host of saber-nerds NEVER SAY THE STOLEN BASE IS A BAD THING. They say giving away outs is bad, but if you can steal bases without being thrown out they are a good thing. The break even point is somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4. The Red Sox have been successful on 78% of their attempts this year so for them the stolen base has been utilized quite nicely.

Sorry about that rant, that's just a pet peve of this loyal, smart, passionate, Santa Claus-booing Philadelphian. To echo what the first guy said, when it comes to baseball IQ Philly fans aren't always the brightest. I thought maybe they were starting to get it when a WIP host started talking about how for a leadoff hitter OBP is more important than average. Then he said for a cleanup hitter RBI and RISP are the two most important stats. D'oh.

Dre said...

Another farce of a game... until these managers start managing it like a real game and only using 15-20 of the 32 man roster, this exhibition is a recipe for disaster.

Alex said...

God I hate Joe Buck. Could he have made it more obvious when the AL came up in extras that he wanted the game to end?

Pete Toms said...

I too was very surprised at the quiet response that Mr. Steinbrenner rec'd from the fans. I attribute it to a lot ( most? ) of the fans in attendance being not the Yankee faithful but corporate big wigs / rich folk who could afford the tickets. I have to think that the real Yankee die hards would give Steinbrenner a huge ovation. For all the revisionist bs out there about baseball's golden age yadda yadda, it's not that long ago that the Yanks struggled to draw 1 million to The Stadium. Steinbrenner deserved better than he rec'd last nite.

Richard Dansky said...

Bad day to be the best-hitting second baseman whose name starts with "U" in the NL East, I guess...

Craig Calcaterra said...

There's a reason I always say "best HITTING" instead of simply "best."

Rob said...

Yankees fans lost all credence for their "smart" tag when they booed Jason Giambi because he wasn't Tino Martinez.

RjL said...

What? No mention about how terribly Buck botched the whole Catcher intros? First he skips them and then he does them in the wrong order. Or do you think that was all a ploy to get Yogi mentioned last, so that he ends with a bunch of cheers?

Craig Calcaterra said...

I tried to stay away from announcer critiques as much as reason would allow. You can just crawl up your own rear doing that.

But yeah, Buck was hard to take, as usual.

Dre said...

definitely was set up to announce Yogi last

hermitfool said...

Fox continues to conduct on camera interviews and insert reporters blathering "human interest" fodder
DURING THE DAMN GAME. Is there any evidence that this irritating crappola boosts ratings? I love Yogi Berra to deaf, but couldn't we do that interview during one of the bazillion pitching changes? It's the Howard Cosell assumption at work: I'm too dumb to understand the game enough to watch it, my audience must be as dumb as I am.

Jason said...

So many thoughts, so much to discuss, so much to argue, so little time (and energy for it). In short:

1) NY fans enjoy yelling more than acting smart. We knew the papelbon thing was overblown but it's more fun to boo the villian.
2) The corp presence was stifling, from the increased sponsorships to the guests who got their tix as a gift. People LEFT IN THE 5TH INNING. Made me sad that "real" fans couldn't afford those empty chairs.
3) You're right about the Steinbrenner reception. I think most were surprised, caught off guard. But he deserved a bigger cheer.
4) I'm glad I didn't have to sit thru Buck & McCarver.
5) The longer commerical breaks are painfully obvious when at the game live. The batters were ready, waiting, practice swinging waiting for the cameras to come back on.
6) Jim Hall, the replacement for the legendary Bob Sheppard, had a worse night than Uggla, amazingly enough. He must have made at least half a dozen mistakes. Big obvious ones. It's like he was watching the game on delay with a roster list that someone mixed up intentionally. Rough night.
7) The Bobby Murcer chant in the first was right on.
8) I am tired.

Jason said...

Also, best non-live thing I saw last night (and don't say "Steinbrenner", you twisted sickos):

On a video tribute to Tim Russert, a big baseball fan, he's talking to Whitey Ford.

Tim: "Whitey, if you weren't a pitcher, what position would you have played?"

Whitey: "Bartender."

Anonymous said...

"Do people in Oakland get mad that Reggie never seems to acknowledge his time with the A's?"

Do people in Boston get mad that Boggs prefers to be remembered as a yankee?

Jay Seaver said...

Hey, if I remember correctly, Boggs tried to be remembered as a Devil Ray. :)

I suspect MLB was setting that opening ceremony up to be as Yankee-centric as possible just in case a vocal portion of the fans chose to be jerks and boo anyone Red Sox-related. Yastrzemski and Fisk were kind of conspicuous by their absence.

Mama Sue said...

LOVED this. Thanks!

Joe Hamrahi said...

A few comments...

I'm not sure how the Fox broadcast came across, but I was at the game, and the applause for Steinbrenner was thunderous. It certainly sounds to me that Fox somehow toned down the background noise.

As for the game being taken over by corporate big wigs and/or rich folk Tom, that wasn't the case at all. The Yankees offered the exact same number of All-Star tickets to season ticket subscribers who have plans of 40 games or more, and almost all of those subscribers purchased the tickets. In fact, I'd say that the bleachers were almost entirely Stadium regulars. And by the way, I'm not rich. I just chose to spend my money on something I really enjoy.

As for the "NY fans enjoy yelling more than acting smart" comment, are you kidding me? What proof do you have of that? Maybe it's just that New York fans actually fill their stadiums and arenas so they sound like they're yelling when they're just cheering.

Jason said...

Joe, I was there, you don't need to lecture me about it. My point was that while most NY fans there last night realized that the Daily News blew the Papelbon story totally out of proportion, we all enjoyed acting like he suggested that Mo be tarred and feathered and left on the side of the Cross Bronx Expressway.

It's fun to boo the villian. Just so long as it stops at booing. The fact that his wife felt threatened just sucks.

Anonymous said...

Loved the shout out to Cookie Rojas. One of my favorite players from the 70's if only because his card was in every third pack of Topps.

Joe Hamrahi said...

I'm not lecturing you Jason, but don't tell me Papelbon wasn't baiting New Yorkers. I remember 4 years ago when Jonathan was a nice quiet kid. I interviewed him on 2 separate occasions. He is an entirely different person now. He's as arrogant as they come and goes around shooting his mouth off at everyone.

As for his wife feeling threatened, I don't condone any behavior that advocates violence or abuse toward anyone. But what exactly did they do to threaten her? Shout a few names at her? I seem to remember Jonathan threatening a few people in Tampa when he said..."In my opinion, it is a bunch of bull what they did. All I got to say is what comes around goes around, man. Payback's a b----, I'll tell you what. In my opinion, and the way I feel right now, this thing isn’t all settled and done."

This is a guy that throws a baseball 95 mph. To me, that's a much bigger threat to someone than people shouting a few names

tadthebad said...

Joe, based on Jason's testimony, not to mention what I observed on television, many fans left very early. Based on my observation alone, the crowd was not good. I was expecting a lot better showing.

tadthebad said...

Correction: guess the crowd did not broadcast well. My bad.

Jeff J. Snider said...

As long as MLB tries to have it both ways (it's an exhibition, but it COUNTS!), we are going to run into issues like last night every couple of years. If a manager has to try to get everyone in the game AND try to win, he is going to mess up pretty often. Baseball needs to decide if they want this to be an exhibition or a meaningful game, and then they need to act according to their decision.

I wrote more about it here, if anyone is interested.

Jason said...

Joe, we both agree that Papelbon was baiting the Yanks fans and if he and his wife didn't forsee the booing, they are fools. The same would have happened if the tables were reversed and Jeter and (whoever he was bedding that week) were being paraded down Boylston Ave.

Is Papelbon a punk now more than he was a few years back? Maybe. I don't know.

But, if there were legitimate threats, that's a wholly 'nother issue. If it was just booing and yelling, it comes with the territory.

Mike said...

Just catching up on your blogs, so a bit late on this one. I think I'm catching up on my lost sleep watching the All Star Game to the very end.

Questioning the "NY fans are smart" comment is pretty weak. The fact that 56,000 fans all knew what Papelbon said and decided to have fun with him since he is a Red Sox is a sign they're up on the game. NYers actually do understand the tabloids and the humor. It's the out-of-towners that don't and take it too seriously.