Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Liveblog 14: 2008 All-Star Game

It's the All-Star Break, and the Yankees once again find themselves several games out of playoff position. Their offense has really been bad this year, with one or two key bats always seeming to be injured and a complete failure to hit well with runners in scoring position. My optimism for the season has been dwindling, although I still think they have another second-half run in them. But right now is the All-Star Break, and the final Midsummer Classic to be played at Yankee Stadium before the new one opens next year. Last night was an interesting Home Run Derby, with Josh Hamilton hitting a mind blowing 28 homers in the first round, several of which were absolutely crushed, but losing in the final round to Justin Morneau, who seems to have a knack for undeserved accolades. Tonight is the game itself on FOX, with Cliff Lee and Ben Sheets starting for their respective leagues. I'll try to blog the whole thing, so here's hoping it's not too boring.

Pre-Game - They're introducing the teams and stuff. There are always some overlooked players who don't get to go and less worthy guys getting in on reputation, but man, I think Jason Varitek could be the least deserving All-Star ever. Terrible offensive season, and even sub-par defense. The players for the Mets and Red Sox get lusty boos from the crowd. There's a lot of members of the Hall of Fame here. They're predictably making a hoopla of the final game at the Stadium. They're introducing the starters for each league along with pretty much every living HOFer at that position. It's kinda cool. Taking a long time, though. George Steinbrenner's being brought to the mound on a cart to give the ball to the Yankee HOFers. He looks pretty terrible. They're throwing the first pitch to the current Yankees involved in the game. It's half an hour into the runtime and I'm ready for the actual game to start.

Top 1 - Why does Joe Buck still cover baseball games for FOX? He doesn't like baseball and nobody likes him. It's a complete waste of everyone's time. The balance of starting pitchers to relief pitchers for both teams is really... dumb. Starting Pitchers are intrinsically better players, and you don't really get a benefit from half a dozen closers when the game's still nine innings long. Oh well, complaining about All-Star rosters is pretty played out. I just hate it when people still cite appearances in the game as arguments for or against a player's body of work. Cliff Lee's on the mound. I don't know how much of his amazing start to the season was real, but his numbers have come down a bit by this point. They're still excellent, though. Hanley Ramirez leading off. He has a good hack at the first offering but strikes out three pitches later. Chase Utley up next. His teammate Jimmy Rollins won the MVP last year but except for a stint on the disabled list, I thought Utley had the better season. He looks at a called third strike on the inside corner. It seems like Lee and Joe Mauer have a good rapport. Lance Berkman flies out to Hamilton in center to end the first.

Bottom 1 - Commercial for the new Mummy movie. It looks like the same sort of stupid fun as the first two, but it's disappointing when the actor who plays a major character (Rachel Weisz in this case) doesn't return for a sequel. Ichiro Suzuki pops out to Matt Holliday in right. Sheets usually gets injured, but he's been a rock for my fantasy team this year. Derek Jeter up second, and he smacks a ball to second which Utley fails to turn into an out. I guess it's a hit. Jeter steals second easily. Hamilton strikes out on a nice breaking pitch. A-Rod pops out to the catcher Geovany Soto to end the inning. What a choker.

Top 2 - Lee is still pitching, and gets Albert Pujols to ground out. Pujols has more extra-base hits than strikeouts in his career, about a 3:2 ratio. Just so you know, that's completely ridiculous. Chipper Jones singles up the middle for the NL's first hit. Holliday grounds out to Kevin Youkilis, who tags him. Ryan Braun has also been a beast for my fantasy team. He strikes out here though, and Lee did a good job.

Bottom 2 - They're seriously pimping JJ Abrams' new show, Fringe. It looks interesting, although I still can't tell what it's about. Manny Ramirez up. Would you want to throw to the catcher of your chief rival in the division? I wouldn't, but that's what Sheets is doing. He strikes out Ramirez after a lengthy at bat. Milton Bradley up, replacing injured (and also undeserving) David Ortiz in the starting lineup. Bradley gets a full count and draws a walk. Youkilis at the plate. Bradley manages to steal second as well. Looks like he took out Utley with the slide, although he was already falling over. Youkilis is out on a foul tip. Mauer hitting. He walks on another full count. The Brewers manager (Yost?) probably isn't happy with all the pitches he's throwing. Dustin Pedroia is up. He's quite the little imp. He pops out to center to end the second.

Top 3 - Joe Saunders now pitching. Kosuke Fukudome grounds out to first. The graphic with his name and stats was in Japanese, which was kinda funny. Geovany Soto flies out. Ramirez hits a solid single to right. Utley grounds another one to Youkilis, and we're moving on.

Bottom 3 - Quick inning for Carlos Zambrano - Ichiro singles, but Jeter grounds into a double play and Hamilton also grounds out.

Top 4 - Roy Halladay pitching, his first game after shutting out the Yankees in embarrassing fashion. Berkman strikes out. Pujols hits one down the right field line, and gets called out at second on a nice throw by Ichiro, although the replay showed he was safe. Jones grounds to Jeter for out number three.

Bottom 4 - Zambrano still pitching, he strikes out A-Rod. He accidentally throws a curveball at Manny's head, but he ducks under it. He then grounds out. Bradley grounds a ball to Ramirez, but the throw is high and he reaches on an error. It doesn't matter though, as Zambrano picks him off first without throwing another pitch.

Top 5 - Ervin Santana throws some nice looking pitches to Holliday, but ends up giving up a homer for the first run of the game. Braun grounds out. Grady Sizemore replaced Manny to start the inning, and after one out Joe Crede replaces A-Rod. Weird move until they explain the reasoning of giving fans a chance to cheer him as he leaves. Santana strikes out Fukudome and Soto to end the frame, but the damage was done.

Bottom 5 - My mom makes a weird breathing noise when she's sleeping. It's not snoring but it's about as annoying. Nate McLouth and Russell Martin replace the two struck out Cubs, and Dan Haren takes the mound. He gets Youkilis to fly out to right. Mauer bounces an infield single over his head. He actually deflected the ball with his glove, which may have prevented an infielder from getting the out. Ian Kinsler pinch-running, which is a waste of his mad hitting skills. After a throw over, he gets the AL's third stolen base. Next pitch is ball four to Pedroia. Two on for Ichiro. Unfortunately, he strikes out, leaving it up to Jeter, famed pumpkin eater. Gotta love sign holders pandering to the station showing the game to get screen time. Full Of eXcitement. Great. Jeter grounds out to Haren to end the threat. He won't be the hero tonight.

Top 6 - Morneau at first, Kinsler at second, JD Drew in right, Varitek catching, Justin Duchscherer pitching. Ramirez smacks a single to left. Utley singles with Ramirez running, runners at the corners with no outs. Berkman hits a sac fly to score Ramirez, two runs for the NL. Michael Young replacing Jeter mid-inning. Pujols singles up the middle. Jones strikes out swinging. Holliday pops out to second to wrap it up.

Bottom 6 - Adrian Gonzalez at first, Dan Uggla at second, Miguel Tejada at short, Aramis Ramirez at third, Corey Hart in right, Haren still pitching. Hamilton singles to start it off. Crede pops out. Why's he an All-Star? I have no idea. Sizemore up. Hamilton steals second and Martin throws it in to center, but not badly enough to move him to third. I don't know why Hurdle is using all the pitchers for two innings, it seems stupid. Sizemore watches strike three with a full count, two down. Bradley pops out to center on the first pitch, and we go to the seventh.

Top 7 - Carlos Quentin in left, Joe Nathan pitching. Come on, Buck. Nathan isn't underrated. Braun quickly strikes out. McLouth flies to center. No, he doesn't. He hits a pop fly there. Martin does the same. The AL has three more chances to make up this deficit.

Bottom 7 - Ryan Ludwick in left, Edinson Volquez pitching. Morneau doubles to right-center. Kinsler moves him to third with a ground out. Dioner Navarro batting for Varitek before he ever got an at bat. Even his own manager knows he sucks. A nicely moving fastball catches Navarro looking at strike three. Drew up. He hits a game-tying, two run homer. I'm not sure how I feel about that. That's probably the only time you'll ever see a crowd in New York cheer JD Drew. Volquez strikes out Young, but now it's anyone's game.

Top 8 - Jonathan Papelbon pitching. I don't really feel the need to go over the crap he said recently, so I won't. He gives up a bloop single to Tejada. Uggla strikes out swinging. The New York crowd is really giving it to Papelbon. It's pretty funny. The FOX guys vehemently defending him are pretty nauseating, though. Tejada steals second and Navarro throws it away, moving him to third. Gonzalez hits a sac fly to Quentin, and the NL has the lead again. Can't blame that on Papelbon, though. David Wright hitting for Pujols. Called third strike, end of the frame.

Bottom 8 - Brian Wilson's pitching. Not the Beach Boy, just the Giants' closer with a bad ERA who's somehow leading the NL in saves. Quentin flies out to center. Carlos Guillen pinch hits for Crede. This is the second time Buck's claimed he was the AL's last position player, at the same moment they show Evan Longoria watching from the dugout. Not the Desperate Housewife, just the Rays' third base rookie sensation. Guillen K's. Billy Wagner comes in to relieve Wilson. "Oh, shit!" Clint Hurdle exclaims. "I forgot that this is an exhibition and I should use as many players as I can to please the fans instead of using three pitchers in six innings!" Sizemore singles. Longoria pinch hits for Bradley. Sizemore snags second base. Longoria auto-doubles to score the tying run as Wagner blows another. Morneau grounds out, but we got us another tie.

Top 9 - Francisco Rodriguez pitching to Ramirez. I do not approve of this decision, unless Rivera relieves him mid-inning. Mariano should pitch the ninth regardless of situation for the symbolism in the Stadium's final All-Star game, because if the AL wins in the bottom of the ninth he will not have gotten to pitch at all. Ramirez walks. Christian Guzman pinch runs. Hart flies out to Drew. With Ludwick batting, Mariano is brought in. If he loses the game, I will feel silly. Ludwick works a full count, but strikes out as Guzman is caught stealing to end the inning. First double play turned in this game. It's kinda cool to see cooperation from three different teams to make a play, so I wish it happened more.

Bottom 9 - Starting Pitcher Ryan Dempster in to relieve late. Weird. He has a strange-ass Jazz hands delivery. Kinsler strikes out as Tim McCarver idiotically pontificates on the rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox. Seriously, the thing Dempster does with his hands during his windup is bewitching. It fucking freaks me out. Navarro strikes out as well. They mention Tim Lincecum being unable to play in the game after being hospitalized with "dehydration and flu-like symptoms". I'm not saying anything because being in the hospital is pretty serious, but what does that sound like to you? Drew strikes out looking to move it to extra innings. Shit.

Top 10 - Rivera still pitching. He punches out McLouth. By striking him out. Not actually hitting him. Martin has a nice, long at bat before singling. Another hit-and-run and a single by Tejada puts runners on first and third with one out. But a groundball double play from Uggla keeps the tie intact.

Bottom 10 - Please win the game here. Aaron Cook pitching. Young hits a groundball on the first pitch, but Uggla flubs the play. He's screwing up left and right. Quentin up. He lines a ball under Uggla's glove, and now runners on the corners with no outs. He is gonna get raped in the clubhouse after the game. Ken Rosenthal adds insult to injury, telling a story about it being Uggla's father's dream to see his son play in Yankee Stadium. Oy. They're walking Guillen to face Sizemore. He grounds it to Uggla of course, who throws it home to get the force. Longoria with the chance to be the hero. He grounds it to Guzman, who again gets the out at home. Now it's up to Morneau. He grounds it to Tejada, who makes a great play to get the third out. That's not the way I wanted the game to end, but man, I still wanted it to end.

Top 11 - Joakim Soria is pitching. Gonzalez punches a single through the infield. Wright goes down on strikes again. Guzman hitting. He pops out, but just think about this. He could have hit a double to score Gonzalez, and the NL could have gone on to win in the bottom of the inning. You would have had Padres and Nationals hitters scoring against a Royals pitcher to determine which league gets homefield advantage in the World Series. Three teams that won't come close to the playoffs having a say in what happens there. How fucking stupid is that? The tie a few years ago was lame, but forcing postseason ramifications into a silly game that's supposed to be meaningless fun is one of the worst ideas ever, coming from a commissioner's office full of them. Hart flies out, and it's time for the bottom of the 11th.

Bottom 11 - Cook's still going. Kinsler singles to center on a bloop. He tries to steal, but is caught on a pitch out. Great. He was safe, but the umpire blows the call. I guess he doesn't want to go home. Navarro walks. Drew singles up the middle. Without the bad call, this game's probably over. Young singles up the middle, but being a catcher, Navarro can't run and is thrown out at home. Fucking umpires won't let the game end. They show the replay. He was safe. This is unbelievable. Please end this, Quentin. He grounds out to third. I seriously can't watch anymore. If this game isn't proof we need to replace human umpires with robots, I don't know what is. I'm going to bed.

Wrap-Up - They played on into the night, and the game didn't end until Young drove in Morneau with a sac fly in the bottom of the fifteenth inning. Once again, the AL has earned homefield the dumb way. You ever have a dream where you get free stuff that you wanted? I hate waking up from those. In any case, that was a doozy of a final All-Star Game at the Stadium.


sluggwood said...


Matthew said...

Tell me about it!

The Black Sunn said...

lol...are you gonna speak on the breaking news about Kirk Radomski providing evidence that drugs were shipped to Roger Clemens?