Well, I told you righties had an advantage in the Derby last night...for some reason, lots of people thought lefties would do better. Still, that was pretty boring...the HR Derby has entered the zone of the Dunk Contest where it just really isn't interesting anymore. Some people have suggested making it a "skills competition", including stuff like running, throwing, etc.; I think that would generate interest for a couple years, but then slip back into oblivion. I'm not sure if there's any real way to "fix" the Derby; people just aren't as interested in things like that anymore. Fortunately, the game itself is still relevant, at least more so than any other All-Star game.
I like live-blogging, so I'm doing this for the All-Star game today; the game doesn't really matter, regardless of what MLB wants you to think, but I'm blogging it anyways, mainly to make fun of Tim McCarver. Hope you stick around.
8:01: By the way, I'm doing this chronologically top-to-bottom; lots of people live-blog bottom-to-top, which I don't like because it makes it harder to read afterwards.
8:02: First of many Barry Bonds mentions, though it comes after our first Eric Byrnes mention (sitting in a kayak with his dog in McCovey Cove, working for Fox. He should be on the field, but whatever...)
8:03: My Prediction: AL wins, 8-3. As I mentioned yesterday, the AL's pitching is just ridiculous. Think about it - Haren goes two innings, then they can throw Beckett, Verlander, Sabathia, Santana, Putz, Papelbon, and K-Rod, and none of them have to go more than one inning. How can the NL score?
8:06: This game isn't even going to start until probably 8:30. Wouldn't it be so much better to play this game at 6:00 on a weekend? I understand that the owners probably don't want to give up their weekend games, but this is supposed to be the sport's showcase. As a kid, I could only watch one or two innings...I usually taped the rest, but it wasn't the same...
8:12: Can we get Homer Simpson to replace Tim McCarver as Fox's number one analyst? He's smarter, although I would probably laugh at him less...
8:14: Nate Silver's got a live chat going over at BP, and Deadspin's live-blogging this thing as well...mine will be better, though. I'll promise you that.
8:18: Do the managers usually bring all their coaches to the All-Star game? Because Jim Leyland brought like six Tigers coaches. Maybe this is normal; I honestly can't remember.
8:21: Never mind, La Russa's got his whole gang there too. Hey, how do you think Eric Byrnes feels hearing Orlando Hudson and Jose Valverde being introduced as All-Stars while he's sitting in his kayak?
8:22: Okay, here's the matchup I want to see: C.C. Sabathia pitching to Miguel Cabrera, sponsered by Krispy Kreme. And I want John Kruk announcing.
8:23: Holy crap, Chris Young is tall. Did you know he went to Princeton?
8:25: AL Lineup: Ichiro, Jeter, Papi, A-Rod, Vlad, Magglio, Pudge, Polanco, Haren. Can anyone tell me why there isn't always a DH in the All-Star game? Who the hell wants to see Dan Haren hitting here? He'll get pinch-hit for anyways, but still...
8:26: NL Lineup: Reyes, Bonds, Beltran, Griffey, Wright, Fielder, Martin, Utley, Peavy. La Russa's mismanagement of this roster continues...what the hell is Beltran doing hitting third? He shouldn't even be on the team. Fielder should be third or fourth, and Utley should be near the top of the order too...certainly not hitting eighth...
8:37: A tribute to Willy Mays. For some reason, I thought they were playing a baseball game today. Silly me. There's no way I'm making it to the end of this...
8:42: Apparently next year's All-Star Game is in Colorado. Bring your Kleenex...it's going to be a moving Dante Bichette tribute, everybody!
8:45: Tim McCarver's first sentence: "What a brilliant tribute for a guy who exhibited every facet of the game was superb." That's word-for-word, unless I didn't hear him right...
8:52: And finally, we're about ready to start. I'm like Roger Clemens at this point - you can't count on me to go more than six innings.
8:54: We're underway...Ichiro with a groundball single through the second-base hole.
8:57: Peavy's throwing his sinking fastball, reading in at 92-93...Jeter swung through one, then hit a routine two-hopper into a 6-4-3 double play. Yeah, he's clutch. Ichiro didn't even slide into second...shows you what this game means to these players...
8:58: Joe Buck just said that one of the reasons Ortiz isn't hitting well is that Manny isn't giving him "his usual protection" behind him. First off, Manny's been fine...and secondly, how would his not doing well hurt Ortiz? People still aren't pitching around Ortiz, and even i they id, that wouldn't really hurt his numbers...
8:59: We have an error on a first baseman on a fairly rouine play...but shockingly, it isn't Ortiz making the error. Ortiz hit one right at Utley, but Fielder missed the throw.
9:01: A-Rod hits one hard into the hole...Wright makes the diving play, in plenty of time to throw Ortiz out at second. Inning over. This is our country.
9:03: Simpsons 2, Mellencamp 1.
9:04: Reyes with a base hit up the middle. Was Polanco shifted to the hole, or does he not have that much range? That ball was 10 feet to the right of second-base...
9:05: Question of the day: Will Reyes steal, even though Bonds is hitting?
9:06: Question answered. Reyes swipes second, a few feet ahead of Pudge's throw...
9:07: Bonds pops out to right field...that ball carried, though. Looked like Polanco was gonna have it all the way, but Vlad had to take over.
9:08: Haren's at 93 mph, and he's all over the corners...until he leaves one right over the plate. Beltran lines a shot into the stands, but foul.
9:10: Beltran swings through a 1-2 heater...I think Haren threw six fastballs to Beltran. That can't be right.
9:12: Griffey with a two-hopper up the middle...25 of the 30 starting shortstops in baseball get to that ball, but Jeter doesn't. Reyes scores; 1-0 NL.
9:13: Wright hits one right at Jeter...at least he can get to that one. NL up 1-0 after the first.
9:16: Penny in for Peavy...gets up 0-2 on Vlad quickly. He throws Vlad a third straight fastball, but down and out of the zone; Vlad breaks his bat and grounds out to Reyes.
9:19: Magglio flys out to right, and Pudge grounds out to short...still 1-0 NL. Penny threw seven pitches that inning; I wonder if he'll be back out there for the third.
9:28: 2 out, runner on 1st, Miguel Cabrera pinch-hitting for Penny. Cabrera had better stay in the game, or else La Russa's got some 'splaining to do...
9:30: Cabrera whiffs, and it's still 1-0 after two.
9:33: Penny's out after a tiring seven-pitch outing, and Ben Sheets is in. Sheets was just 6-7 last year, and his ERA wasn't outstanding, but he had a ridiculous 116:11 K/BB ratio. Polanco grounds out to short to start the inning.
9:34: Manny pinch-hitting, flys out to Griffey in right. We haven't even seen a three-ball count yet...at least this game is going quickly...(actually, I think Peavy went 3-2 to Ortiz)
9:36: Ichiro swings at a pitch at his ankles and bloops it into left for a single. Bonds has no range, obviously, but nobody would have gotten to that.
9:37: Jeter grounds one up the middle, for another single. Ken Rosenthal reports Ichiro and the M's are close to a 5 yr/$90 million deal, if I heard him right.
9:38: Ortiz rips a Sheets fastball, but it's right at Griffey. Three outs.
9:42: Reyes puts some wicked sidespin on his hit...it gets by A-Rod, and Reyes ends up with a 170-foot double. Will he try to steal third, with Bonds up?
9:44: Bonds starts to square around to bunt on the first pitch...I'm assuming that was a joke. Later in the count, he gets one up in the zone and drives it to left...Ordonez grabs it on the warning track. So close. Kinda curious why Reyes didn't tag up there...
9:45: Beltran grounds out to second...I still don't understand why he was hitting third. Reyes could've scored there if he was on third.
9:46: Leyland says he'll use Putz as his closer if the AL takes a lead into the ninth. Putz is having a great year...but why don't you choose K-Rod? He's been great his entire career.
9:47: Beckett sends Griffey down swinging with a nice fastball at the knees. We're seeing lots of fastballs today, all in the 94-95 range, and not many hits. Still 1-0 NL.
9:50: Mellencamp pulls even with the Simpsons, 2-2. This is our country.
9:51: Soriano's in left; Bonds' day is done. Cole Hamels is pitching for the NL. A-Rod grounds a changeup through the hole for a single. Reyes steals secon, pretty easily...got a good jump on the lefty Hamels.
9:53: Vlad grounds to short. One out.
9:55: 2 outs...Pudge singles to right, but A-Rod is out by 15 feet at home. He wasn't running at all down the third-base line...I'm wondering if his hamstring is all right...
9:58: A-Rod's still at third, so I guess his leg's okay. Why the hell did La Russa bring in Cabrera just as a pinch-hitter? Is Wright going to play the whole game at third? Is he going to play Freddy Sanchez at third? Cabrera's one of the three best hitters in the league...why give him only one at-bat?
9:59: Beckett's still pitching...Wright works a 3-2 count, then grounds to Brian Roberts at second.
10:01: Beckett is working behind a little more than you'd like to...Fielder drills a 2-0 pitch to center, but Ichiro is there to make the play. Two away.
10:02: Didn't think we'd hear the s-word mentioned tonight, but Ken Rosenthal brings up the very valid point that 50-70% of baseball was using steroids, so we can't really criticize Bonds that much for using them. Buck then goes on a minute-long rant that the chemists are still ahead of the testers, so people are still cheating by using stuff like HGH. Meanwhile, Beckett goes to another three-ball count but strikes out Russell Martin, without so much as a mention from the announcers. We're already through four innings, and it's still 1-0.
10:07: Chris Young is pitching, and Derrek Lee is at first. Tim McCarver points out that Chris Young has a .82 ERA at home, but doesn't mention that PETCO is one of the two or three most pitcher-friendly parks. I mean, it's still impressive, but a lot of the viewers don't know their baseball stadiums very well...how about at least mentioning that it's helped him?
10:09: And we have our first walk of the day...Young walks Brian Roberts on six pitches.
10:10: Posada batting for Beckett...presumably he'll stay in to catch, as Pudge has already caught four innings. He flys out to center, one out.
10:11: Hey, we haven't seen Chris Byrnes in a while...he throws in a baseball for his dog to get, except the dog goes swimming away in the other directions. So that's what happened to the Great Outdoor Games!
10:12: Ichiro with a shot to the right field wall...boy, he's been hot. It takes a really weird bounce off the wall, and goes the opposite way of how it looked like it would...Ichiro circles the bases for an inside-the-parker, and Roberts scores as well. 2-1 AL, and if they win, Ichiro's easily the MVP.
10:14: Jeter flys out to center, and then Morneau lines out to Griffey. But the AL retakes the lead off Chris Young, and now they're in control.
10:19: Soriano flys out to Crawford in left. Not to belabor this point...but how does the NL score the rest of the way? They'll face Sabathia, Santana, Papelbon, K-Rod, and Putz from here on out.
10:20: Reyes with a gapper to left-center...but Hunter makes a nice play to cut it off and hold him to a single. Lee grounds out to the pitcher to end the inning.
10:21: Two pieces of information from the interview with La Russa (I know, I couldn't believe we actually learned something either)...First, Cabrera's injury meant that he could only pinch-hit. Second, La Russa says he'll keep Pujols as a utility guy to bring in if the game goes to extras, because he can play anywhere. Now, Pujols is a great player, and I bet he could do all right for himself anywhere on the field. At the same time, he's pretty slow...do you really want him at second base? His glove would be okay, but he'd have no range. And, more importantly, Pujols is the best hitter in the game...don't you want to guarantee that he'll get at least one at-bat, preferably two? I really don't like the way La Russa managed this ame, from the beginning of the process on.
10:24: A-Rod flies out to left. The surprising Francisco Cordero is pitching...he leads the NL in saves.
10:25: Vlad flies out to right on a pitch at his ankles. I'm kinda surprised Griffey is still out there; he's getting up there in years and the NL has a bunch of outfielders.
10:28: Only about 43,000 people in the stadium...must be a small park.
10:29: We now have two homers so far in the game...and they've come courtesy of Ichiro and Carl Crawford. Ths pitch was a slider, a little below the belt, and Crawford got all of it, taking it out to right-center, about five rows up.
10:30: Guillen grounds out to Utley to end the inning. 3-1 AL.
10:33: Verlander in to pitch for the AL...I guess that means Papelbon won't pitch? Verlander goes 3-0 on Beltran, before giving up a triple on 3-1. Vlad kind of misplayed that...not easy to play right in this park, though. Griffey up, nobody out.
10:35: Griffey with a line drive to deep right...Vlad makes the catch, but even he can't throw out Beltran on that one. 3-2 AL, Griffey has both RBIs for the senior circuit and will likely be the MVP if the NL wins.
10:36: Velocity update: Verlander's last two pitches have been at 99, and he hits 100 on a fastball to Wright...he breaks his bat, but gets the ball into shallow center for a blop single. I'd guess that those readings are pretty legit; Verlander doesn't always throw this hard, but given that he's only going one inning, it would make sense he's giving it all he can.
10:37: Matt Holliday pinch-hitting, and I'd hope he stays in the game...he takes a real bad cut at a sick curveball, though, to make the count 0-2...
10:38: Holliday almost bites at two more curveballs, but checks his swing both times; the count goes to 3-2
10:39: Wright goes on the pitch, Holliday hits a one-hopper to first...Morneau knocks the ball down and gets the out at first. Two down, tying run on second.
10:40: Martin hits a shot to right, but it lands 10 feet foul. He follows it up with a popout to second; the AL dodges a bullet.
10:45: Takashi Saito on the mound, and a whole different team behind him...Hudson at second, Sanchez at third, Rowand in center, McCann catching, and Holliday moves to right.
10:46: Roberts hits a routine grounder to second, and there's one out. Jorge Posada next to bat...
10:48: Tim McCarver on Takashi Saito: "You look at the numbers on Saito, and one of the most important is his age...he's 37 years old. What a great story, to be waiting so long for this honor." (not quite verbatum, but close). Um...Saito just came to America last year, when he was signed by the Dodgers before the 2006 season. So, he's been waiting all of a year and a half. On a related note, here's a link you might want to check out...
10:50: Saito goes 1-2-3, and it's still 3-2 going into the bottom of the seventh. NL will likely have to score at least one run off of Santana/K-Rod/Putz...
10:51: I don't want to make it seem like I'm unpatriotic or anything...but can we do away with singing God Bless America before the seventh inning stretch at every baseball game? I'm not sure I really have a problem with it in this situation, but is it really necessary to do every game?
10:53: Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd...
10:55: Thanks to Coors Light for exposing a major need in our daily lives - the mouths of our beer cans are too small. But it's okay now, Coors Light has wide-mouthed cans, so you'll never have this problem again!
10:56: On the mound: Johan Santana. Carlos Lee hits a couple shots, but they both hook foul.
10:57: Santana fans Lee with a dirty changeup at his shoelaces. One out.
10:58: Santana gets ahead of Soriano 0-2, then gets him looking with a change right down the middle.
10:59: Reyes hits a slow roller to short; inning over. He's still 3-for-4, though I'd be kinda pissed if I was J.J. Hardy about not getting into the game. 3-2 AL heading into the eighth.
11:02: Simpsons take a 3-2 lead; Mellencamp is running out of time to catch up.
11:03: Billy Wagner in for the Mets; Mike Lowell leads off with a single.
11:03: Best stat of the game so far: 0 appearances by Scooter the Baseball.
11:04: Sanchez has a little trouble fielding a popup (he's playing out of position at third; he's played second pretty much exclusively this year), but sticks with it and makes a nice play.
11:05: Sizemore strikes out swinging on a pitch that almost hits him; apparently, it's the NL's first strikeout of the game. Weird.
11:06: What's up with Billy Wagner? His fastball was just clocked at 95...and then he throws another 95-mph fastball, and Victor Martinez takes him deep down the left field line. 5-2 AL, and it's very tough to see the NL winning this game. Wagner's fastball is usually right around triple digits; I don't know what happened to his velocity.
11:09: After seven and a half innings, it's AL 5, NL 2. The senior circuit had better get at least one here if they want any chance. Papelbon's coming into the game, which I think is strange...Leyland said he's using Putz in the ninth, so this means K-Rod isn't getting into the game at all. K-Rod is the best reliever in the AL...I don't know why you wouldn't use him...
11:13: Paplebon gets ahead 0-2 on D-Lee, but leaves one right up the middle...Lee bloops it into shallow center and gets on base.
11:14: Uh...why exactly did Fox choose now as the time for a Chase Utley "Player Profile"? He left the game two innings ago. It's not like you didn't have time before...
11:15: You know it's late in the game when Buck and McCarver are talking about dancing. Or maybe I'm hallucinating. Papelbon fans Orlando Hudson with a splitter in the dirt, but Lee steals second easily.
11:18: Trevor Hoffman arming up for the NL...Paplebon goes to 3-2 on Rowand as Lee takes third on a passed ball.
11:20: Rowand fans on some high cheese. NL could really use a hit by Sanchez here.
11:21: Sanchez swings first-pitch...and flys out to center. That sound you just heard was the town of Pittsburgh not caring. 5-2 AL going into the ninth.
11:26: Again, Buck mentions the Padres' terrific pitching without mentioning the ballpark they play in. Look, they might have the best pitching in the game...but it's ridiculous to say that the ballpark has absolutely nothing to do with it. I haven't looked at many park-adjusted pitching stats lately, so I don't know if their pitching is the best or not.
11:27: Tim McCarver just cracked himself up while saying that the difference between Hoffman's fastball and changeup is great. I have no idea why.
11:28: Posada with a two-out double off the wall in dead center. Torii Hunter will try to make it a four-run game.
11:33: Hunter grounds out to third. Last chance for the NL; they need three runs.
11:35: If Pujols doesn't bat this inning for the NL, I want Tony La Russa fired immediately. I'm not even kidding.
11:36: Holliday leads off for the NL, against J.J. Putz. Putz is a fine choice to close this game - he's been the best reliever in baseball this season - but I would've liked to see K-Rod get into the game at some point...
11:37: Putz gets ahead of Holliday 0-2, then throws a ball low and away. Comes back with a 95-mph heater up and out of the zone, and Holliday bites. Two more outs to go.
11:38: Brian McCann up...he's not hitting well this year. Nothing La Russa can do about it, though, since he's the only catcher left for the NL.
11:39: Putz gets McCann 1-2, and then gets him to pop out to short. Two down.
11:40: The pitcher's spot is up, so Pujols should pinch-hit, right? Wrong. For some reason, Tony La Russa sends Dimitri Young up to the plate. Ugh. Young's career OBP: .349. Pujols' career OBP: .418. If you make an out here, the game's over...you absolutely have to have your best hitter up right now.
11:43: Putz hits 98 on the gun, but Young fouls it off, to stay alive at 1-2. Pujols should be batting...
11:44: The NL gets a break...a slow roller into the hole, and Brian Roberts can't hang on. Young reaches first, though that still doesn't validate La Russa's decision.
11:44: Alfonso Soriano batting...if he gets on, it's J.J. Hardy.
11:45: Putz gets into a hole against Soriano...count goes to 3-1. There's nothing Soriano can do here more valuable than walking.
11:46: That's okay, too...Sorano goes yard right down the right-field line. Again, it really didn't matter whether Soriano walked there or homered; Hardy still has to score for these runs to matter anyways.
11:47: I wonder if K-Rod's warming up...this is Hardy's first at-bat of the game. Derrek Lee is on deck.
11:48: Fastball, 96 mph, outer half, for strike one...but then Putz misses with a slider. 2-1. K-Rod is warming up, by the way, and Valverde's getting warm for the NL.
11:49: Fastball away...3-1. Putz doesn't want to give up another homer, but he can't put the tying run on base.
11:50: Ball low...Hardy gets on first. Leyland's making the change, as he's taking out Putz and bringing in K-Rod. I thought K-Rod should have started the inning in the first place. Hardy's got below-average speed, by the way.
11:52: Do you bring in Pujols for Lee here? On one hand, it's not a huge advantage, and it limits your flexibility if you go to extras...but on the other hand, you have to agree that Pujols is the better hitter.
11:53: D-Lee hits a hard grouder down the line, right to Lowell (guarding the lines), but foul. 1-1 count.
11:54: Dirty curveball on 1-1, but Lee checks his swing...nice block by Posada to keep Hardy at first.
11:55: Great curve on the inner half...2-2. I wouldn't be surprised if he throws another one of those here.
11:55: Sure enough...but Lee lays off it. Full count, this means Hardy's running on the pitch.
11:56: Lee checks his swing on a curveball...didn't go! Tying run on second, winning run at first.
11:57: Orlando Hudson is still hitting...WHERE THE HELL IS PUJOLS! Hudson's not a bad player, and Pujols would be out of position in extra innings...but it's Albert F---ing Pujols! If the NL loses this game, La Russa will share a very big portion of the blame.
11:57: Three terrible pitches by K-Rod and he's behind 3-0. Is Okajima warming up? Aaron Rowand is on deck...Pujols could hit for him, too, and then move to a corner outfield spot if the game goes to extras.
11:58: K-Rod finally throws a strike to get to 3-1, but then another ball in the dirt. Three straight walks...Leyland can't really make a change, though.
11:59: Nope, Rowand's hitting. If the Mets lose the World Series in seven games because they didn't get home field advantage, he should start mailing death threats to La Russa. I'm not even joking here.
12:00: K-Rod gets strike one over...Rowand hits the second pitch...and flies out to right. Game over, the AL holds on to win, but not by much. Managers always get too much blame whenever their team loses, but La Russa deserves a ton of blame for his refusal to bat Pujols in this one. I'm not sticking around for the MVP presentation, but I assume it will be Ichiro. Thanks to everyone (anyone?) who was reading; it was fun.