I hate the All-Star Break. The home run derby always bores me, the game itself usually does too, and the lack of real live competitive baseball is simply depressing. If I ran the world, there would be a cable channel running wall-to-wall rebroadcasts of old games, preferably from the 70s and 80s, and preferably not famous ones, so that we may actually enjoy them in ignorance of their outcomes like we would real, current ballgames. Alas, that won't happen, however, because MLB knows that a random Cardinals-Mets game from the mid-80s would hold people's interest way better than that spectacle they're having up in the Bronx, and that's simply unacceptable.
The lack of baseball between now and Thursday evening is going to suck eggs, but at least we have each other, and we'll find a way to get through this madness somehow.
Indians 5, Rays 2: The Rays certainly cured what ailed the Indians! Wait, that's not true, because the Indians will still probably stink after the break. How about this: the Indians certainly infected the Rays!
Tigers 4, Twins 2: Last Wednesday, Leyland was complaining about the Tigers' All-Star break schedule because he and his guys didn't get the same amount of time off as everyone else. "I want everyone to write it and put it all over the airwaves. It's a joke. Silly is what it is," he said. This coming Wednesday, Leyland is among 50 baseball people invited as guests at a White House dinner, about which he said "I can't believe that I'm on the list, but it is going to be exciting to have dinner with President Bush. That's big time." Just to be clear, Jim Leyland complained about having to play a baseball game, but is thrilled about dinner with George Bush. Politics aside, wouldn't you rather be at the ballgame? Me too.
Astros 5, Nationals 0: There's been a lot of talk lately about putting the DH in the NL. I'm against it because I'm an NL guy and I like the pitcher batting. I can't really explain it any terms much more rational than that, and no one making the case for the DH in the NL has made much of a better argument than that which I can muster for my side. It's a political issue, really, and most political issues are kind of like that. Carlos Lee said something after this game, however, that could actually move the ball on this one in my mind a little bit. In response to Astros' pitcher Brandon Backe having a good game at the plate (2-3, 2B, 2 R), Lee said "We feel like we're playing with nine instead of eight." Do NL players really think of it in those terms? That they're playing with less than a full compliment of men somehow when pitchers bat? It wouldn't change my mind about the DH if they did, but it would make me think about it in slightly modified terms.
Blue Jays 4, Yankees 1: Peter Abraham spotted a great getaway day stat: "The Yankees had 32 plate appearances against A.J. Burnett and 25 of them were over in three pitches or fewer. Only four of those were strikeouts." Hey, when ya got somewhere to be, ya got somewhere to be.
Phillies 6, Diamondbacks 3: You're not livin' right when you rack up 14 hits and a walk and still only score three runs.
Red Sox 2, Orioles 1: Boston understands this whole it's-a-marathon-not-a-sprint thing. No one has been talking about them -- well, no one has been talking about them as much as they usually do -- but here they are, in first place at the break, just like they planned it all along. At the risk of channeling Bill Simmons, I'm going say that I think that the Ortiz injury, while certainly a negative, may have some positive byproducts inasmuch as a lot of guys are getting the kind of at bats and rest (when they fill the DH slot) they wouldn't have otherwise had if Papi wasn't hurt. The Sox may not have the firepower they need if Papi can't play or play effectively this year, but if he can, there are going to be a lot of guys who are fresher and sharper this fall than they might have been had he not gotten hurt in the first place.
Cardinals 11, Pirates 6: If the season ended today, the Cardinals would win the wild card, and I'm still not quite sure how that's possible. Many so-called experts were predicting that the Reds would be the frisky team in the NL Central this year and that the Cards would be keeping the Pirates company down south in the standard. Er, yeah.
Mariners 4, Royals 3: Seattle is 12-11 under Riggelman. Not bad considering they have about three major leaguers in their everyday lineup.
Brewers 3, Reds 2: CC goes the distance -- throwing 122 pitches and hitting a dinger in the process -- to beat the Reds. I didn't worry about his pitch count in this game too much because (1) CC has been a frickin' horse for the past month or two, looking stronger the longer he goes. It's as though he's just loosenin' up for the first 80 pitches; (2) he's gettin' a few days off; and (3) the Brewers need to win games against teams like the Reds on getaway days. Ned Yost can't really trust the back end of his bullpen, and if I'm him, I leave Sabathia in too.
Rangers 12, White Sox 11: Texas seems to play in these kinds of games every other day. It has to be hard on their fans. It's always in the mid 90s or hotter at game time, and the Rangers force them to sit through four hours of slow, turgid, bludgeonball. Ozzie Guillen: "This was the worst baseball game I've ever seen . . . The pitchers should look themselves in the mirror and be embarrassed." And I don't think he would have changed his assessment if the score was flip-flopped.
Giants 4, Cubs 2: All hail the Freak (8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 9K), who is on pace to go 17-3 for one of the worst teams in the league.
Angels 4, A's 3: Reggie Willits scored from second on an infield single in the ninth for the game winning run. Barton claimed that he would have had a play on him had the catcher been paying attention. Maybe so, but it's still pretty cool.
Braves 12, Padres 3: Atlanta breaks out the whuppin' sticks, and Bobby Cox says something like "that will make them feel good going into the break." Isn't it funny how teams that are doing poorly heading into the break always talk like the break will change their fortunes for the better once play resumes, while teams playing well at the break talk as though the good stuff will continue despite the upcoming days off? Can't poor play be maintained and can't good play be thrown off the rails by virtue of a break?
Dodgers 9, Marlins 1: Chad Billingsley (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 13K) dominates the Marlins. The Dodgers are the luckiest team in baseball. The Diamondbacks showed every sign of running away with the NL West and hiding back at the end of April, and here are the Dodgers, who haven't had a stretch of sustained good play all year, a single game behind the leaders. They're like the guys who never studied for the exams in law school but who still scored high enough to mess up the curve for the rest of us morons.
Mets 7, Rockies 0: When you're hot, you're hot. The Mets are hot. Do you think they're hot enough to score Jerry Manuel the permanent managers' job? No, I wouldn't give it to him if I were running the Mets, but there's a lot of idle time between now and Friday, and you know that the tabloids are going to be looking for something to go on about. I think the "Jerry Manuel contract extension" talk would be about as fun as anything else to fill up that time.