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It should come as little surprise, but Brian McCann, who delivered the big bases-clearing double in the seventh off fellow lefty Matt Thornton, has been named the game's most valuable player. Bud Selig comes out to hand off the Ted Williams MVP Trophy, which is a long crystal bat. Let the debate rage over which is the cooler trophy: the long crystal bat MVP trophy, or the bronze(?) crossing-bat Home Run Derby trophy. As an American, naturally, I prefer the thing that's bigger, but what's really important here is that no matter which trophy is cooler, they're both way cooler than the World Cup, which is a blight on everyone involved. I have a theory that trophies should be proportional to the number of people that care about them. Following that idea, the World Cup should be made of astatine and contain the entire moon somewhere.
For the second night in a row, an event I was dreading was made more tolerable by liveblogging the whole time. I think this really is a valuable lesson, particularly for bloggers of bad baseball teams who're out of the race, such as myself. It wasn't just the liveblogging this time, though. This was an All-Star Game, and it was over in just under three hours. Now, last year's All-Star Game was the shortest All-Star Game since 1988, which (A) I didn't realize, and (B) we were never going to match, but you always expect an exhibition like this to drag on longer than your standard nine-inning tilt, so kudos to Charlie Manuel and Joe Girardi for whatever they did to lull their lineups to sleep. We were one Brian McCann swing of the bat away from having Hong-Chih Kuo as an MVP favorite.
So, what does it mean? It means some team in the NL might get one more home game than some team in the AL in the World Series. It's a pretty big advantage if the series ends up going seven games, but if it doesn't, it's irrelevant, and the series hasn't gone seven since 2002. Odds are it's all much ado about nothing. What's most significant to me is that the NL finally snapped the AL's remarkable streak, which, even if you concede that the game doesn't really matter, was as impressive a streak as any I've seen in a while. The odds of one league's ~best players going undefeated against another league's ~best players 13 times in a row are lower than this sock I just threw on the floor for demonstrative purposes.
People will argue about the managing in this game, as they always do. People will wonder why David Ortiz ran for himself in the ninth, and why Alex Rodriguez never played. People just love to be mad at things. Sure, the game wasn't managed perfectly. No game is managed perfectly. The rosters for these teams weren't selected perfectly, either, and the outcome very well may not mean a thing. It's not worth getting up in arms about, and I don't know that anyone would get up in arms about it if it weren't the only sporting event of any significance of the day. People need to talk about sports. The sport they're actually talking about doesn't matter as much.
So we're done. Tomorrow, there's nothing. Thursday, there's baseball again. Real baseball. Meaningful baseball. The All-Star break has a lot of flaws, but one thing it does do is really whet your appetite for the return of the regular season. Onward we march. There is a lot of ground yet to cover.
Anaheim, CA (Sports Network) - Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann hit a three-run double in the seventh inning, boosting the National League to its first victory at the All-Star Game since 1996, a 3-1 decision over the American League at Angel Stadium.
The AL had been unbeaten in the previous 13 midsummer classics, winning five in a row from 1997-2001 before a 7-7, 11-inning tie in 2002 when both squads ran out of pitchers. The AL was on a seven-game winning streak.
This was just the fourth win in the last 23 All-Star Games for the NL (4-18-1) which will have home-field advantage for the World Series. That could bode well for the Braves considering they are in first place in the NL East, four games ahead of the New York Mets.
"It'd be big for any NL team that gets there," McCann said. "Being in first place at the break, we've had a lot of guys on our team step up and play big. It was nice just to come out here and be a part of this All-Star Game."
Home run derby champion David Ortiz singled off the Dodgers' Jonathan Broxton on the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth inning, but Adrian Beltre struck out. Chicago Cubs right fielder Marlon Byrd then made a heady defensive play. John Buck looped a single to right field. Byrd played the ball on a hop and threw to second base to get Ortiz on the force play. Ian Kinsler flied out to right-center field ending the game and leaving the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez as the only position player not used for the AL.
McCann, who entered as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning, was named the game's MVP, marking just the second time a Brave has been honored, joining first baseman Fred McGriff in 1994.
"You dream about moments like this as a kid," McCann said. "Tonight was just amazing."
The Mets' David Wright had two of the seven hits for the NL. Washington's Matt Capps picked up the victory, while Broxton held on for the save.
Phil Hughes, from nearby Mission Viejo, suffered the loss. Yankees teammate Robinson Cano knocked in the only run for the AL with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. The AL had just six hits in the 81st edition of the All-Star Game.
Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez and Tampa Bay's David Price both lasted two innings in their starts. Price became the youngest All-Star starting pitcher since 23- year-old Dwight Gooden of the Mets in 1988.
Hughes started the top of the seventh. Scott Rolen singled to center field and hustled to third on Matt Holliday's base hit up the middle. Torii Hunter's throw was wide of the base. Matt Thornton then retired pinch-hitter Chris Young on a pop foul to first. Byrd battled back from an 0-2 count and walked.
McCann then fouled Thornton's first offering barely into the stands down the right field line, but lined the second pitch into the right field corner for a 3-1 NL lead. Andrew Bailey then walked Rafael Furcal, but Brandon Phillips struck out to cap the frame.
The AL put runners on first and third against St. Louis' Adam Wainwright in the bottom of the seventh, thanks in part to a dropped ball by Holliday on a ball hit by Buck. But the Angels' Hunter struck out swinging at an outside pitch to finish the inning.
San Francisco's Brian Wilson retired the side in order in the eighth.
A moment of silence was held before the game for Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who passed away earlier Tuesday at the age of 80. A brief tribute was played on the video board.
The voice of late Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard, who died Sunday at the age of 99, introduced shortstop Derek Jeter before he walked to the plate with one out in the first inning. Jeter walked and Miguel Cabrera followed with a single to put runners at the corners, but Josh Hamilton grounded into a 1-6-3 double play.
Evan Longoria doubled with one out in the bottom of the second, but couldn't advance another base.
Ryan Braun made a diving catch on a ball hit by Hamilton down the left field line in the fourth inning.
Justin Verlander escaped a jam in the top of the fifth. Wright singled up the middle and stole second as catcher Joe Mauer's throw sailed into the outfield. Andre Ethier singled with one out, but Wright was held up at third. Corey Hart then struck out and pinch-hitter McCann flied out to the warning track in right field.
Hong-Chih Kuo walked Longoria to start the bottom of the fifth. Mauer then hit a ball to the third base side of the mound. Kuo's throw sailed over the head of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, placing runners at the corners. Cano then lifted a sacrifice fly to left field. Heath Bell sprinted from the bullpen area with two outs and retired Hunter on a fly ball to right, leaving Carl Crawford stranded at second base.
Elvis Andrus was caught stealing second in the bottom of the sixth when he slid off the base. Capps fanned Ortiz on a called third strike to end the inning.
Players and coaches representing the Yankees at the All-Star Game wore black armbands for Steinbrenner. The bottom of the patch said "The Boss"...The unbeaten streak for the AL was the longest in the game's history, surpassing the Senior Circuit's 11-game run from 1972-1982...Texas' Cliff Lee, who started for the AL All-Star squad in 2008, threw just six pitches in the fourth inning...The NL overall advantage stands at 41-38-2 in All-Star Games...McCann is the fifth catcher to win the award, joining Gary Carter (1981, 1984), Terry Steinbach (1988), Mike Piazza (1996) and Sandy Alomar, Jr. (1997)...This was the AL's lowest hit total since 1999 when they also collected six hits.
Hey there everybody. Hopefully I can sustain myself through this thing, which I understand promises to take at least six or seven hours. Once again my cable company would have me believe that this'll be over by eight, but I learned something about you last night, Comcast. I learned that you're a dirty little liar. I'm not saying that in a sexy, role-playing kind of way, either. I mean you are dishonest and I hate you.
MLB Network is showing some All-Star red carpet deal before the game gets started, by the way, in case you just can't wait for 5pm to roll around (or 8pm for those of you elsewhere! These are the only two times). Since the game is in Anaheim, the red carpet ceremony is taking place in Disneyland, and since Kevin Millar is employed as a host and personality, MLB Network let him stand in front of "It's A Small World" and say "I'm coming to you from Dustin Pedroia's house, if you know what I mean." There are professionals in charge of this broadcast.
There's a stream of convertibles coming down the main thoroughfare carrying one All-Star in each. This must be the red carpet. The convertibles are labeled. Cliff Lee! Evan Longoria! Hong-Chih Kuo! I was going to make some crack about how I can't keep the rosters straight anymore since there have been so many players added, but I think that right there makes my point just fine.
On the heels of Ubaldo Jimenez and David Price being named starting pitchers for Tuesday's All-Star Game, managers Charlie Manuel and Joe Girardi also named their respective starting lineups. They are:
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Martin Prado, 2B
Albert Pujols, 1B
Ryan Howard, DH
David Wright, 3B
Ryan Braun, LF
Andre Ethier, CF
Corey Hart, RF
Yadier Molina, C
Derek Jeter, SS
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Josh Hamilton, CF
Vladimir Guerrero, DH
Evan Longoria, 3B
Joe Mauer, C
Robinson Cano, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
No big surprises here, other than Howard being named the NL's cleanup hitter against a left-handed starting pitcher in Price who has limited lefty bats to a .225 career average. But then that's getting a little too analytical over a game that, in truth, deserves little analysis.
It's worth noting that All-Star Yadier Molina has the fourth-lowest OPS in baseball among players with at least 250 trips to the plate.
The selection of the two first-time All-Stars is not terribly surprising, though that's not to say either choice was easy for managers Charlie Manuel and Joe Giradi.
Indeed, Manuel said that picking Jimenez over the Marlins' Josh Johnson (9-3, 1.70 ERA, 245 ERA+, 9.1 K/9) was a "tough pick," but it is Jimenez with the tough-to-look-past 15-1 record, the most wins for a pitcher at the break since David Wells' 15 in the 2000 season. And Jimenez's other numbers -- 2.20 ERA, 204 ERA+, 8 K/9 -- are not exactly terrible, either.
Over on the A.L. side, Price was the likely candidate, since he leads the league with a 2.42 ERA and is tied with 12 wins (along with CC Sabathia), numbers that are made impressive when you figured he pitches in the same division as the Yankees and Red Sox. If there was anyone that Price did beat out, it was probably Boston's Jon Lester, and his 11-3 mark and 2.78 ERA.
|2010 - Ubaldo Jimenez||15-1||18||18||3||2||0||0||127.0||87||31||31||6||46||113||2.20||1.05|
|2010 - David Price||12-4||17||17||2||1||0||0||115.1||95||38||31||9||43||100||2.42||1.20|
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