The All Star Game, 2009
Having one of the all-time baseball greats always adds a lot to the atmosphere of an All Star Game. In 1999, it was Ted Williams in Boston, and this year it's Stan "The Man" Musial in St. Louis. With all those good vibes, plus the huge fan support for for "hometown" hero Albert Pujols, maybe the National League can finally "reverse the curse" that has plagued them in the All Star Game since 1996.
The pre-game festivities seem to get more carried away with symbolism and emotionalism every year. Paying respect to real "hometown heroes" as they did this year is nice, but let's not overdo it, folks. Sheryl Crow sang the National Anthem; she is one of my favorite rock music artists, but her rise to stardom is perhaps a little clouded, I recently learned.
And what the hell is wrong with people for booing the President? Talk about bad sportsmanship! I'm no fan of Barack Obama, but he was duly elected and deserves our respect, if not our support. Like the previous president, who also endured more than his share of boos, he managed to throw a decent first pitch even though he was wearing a heavy protective vest underneath his White Sox jacket.
I'll probably update this later this evening...
UPDATE: For the fourth year in a row the American League beat the National League by exactly one run. The MVP award was presented to Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford, who snagged a would-be home run hit by Brian Hawpe in the 7th inning, keeping the score tied at 3-3, and saving Jonathan Papelbon's rear end. Surprisingly, Albert Pujos went 0 for 3, a letdown for St. Louis fans. I was pleased that Ryan Zimmerman got to play several innings at third base, though he didn't reach base in either of his at-bats: one fly ball out to deep center field, and one fly out to right field, and nobody on base either time. In the top of the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a triple to deep left center field, bouncing off the fence, and two batters later, Baltimore's Adam Jones drove him home with a long sacrifice fly to the right field corner. That was all it took, as Mariano Rivera racked up his fourth All Star save. Final score: AL 4, NL 3. Time: 2:31, probably one of the shortest in many years. Attendance: 46,760.
Omitting that irritating tied All Star game of 2002 in Milwaukee, the AL has prevailed in 12 consecutive All Star games. The National League curse continues!
Home Run Derby 2009
When nobody came close to Josh Hamilton's phenomenal first-round performance in last year's Home Run Derby, I soon lost interest. Well, hats off anyway to Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers, who prevailed over Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers. Just wait until they have the All Star Game in cozy little New Yankee Stadium -- think of all the home runs they're going to hit then! Maybe they should change the name to "Yankee Ballpark" to distinguish it from the authentic, full-size original.
Busch Stadium II update
I figured I ought to resume getting caught up with Missouri stadium revisions as I had originally planned, and what better occasion to do so for Busch Stadium II than tonight's game? The main change is that the stadium is about ten feet longer than before (it's slightly elliptical in shape), with the field pushed forward about 15 feet. There are more rows behind home plate than I estimated before, and fewer in the lower deck of the outfield. [Also, it shows that the dugouts were repositioned in the 1996-1997 renovations, and the outside ground level was at least ten feet higher on the north side of the stadium than on the south side. ]
National All Stars
Somehow or other, the Washington Nationals have managed to get at least one of their players into the All Star Game every year since they began playing [in 2005].
|2005||Comerica Park, Detroit||Livan Hernandez||Allowed two hits and two runs in the 4th inning.||AL 7, NL 5.|
|Chad Cordero||Pitched 8th inning: 3 up, 3 down.|
|2006||PNC Park, Pittsburgh||Alsonso Soriano||Got one hit and one stolen base in two at-bats.||AL 3, NL 2.|
|2007||AT&T Park, San Francisco||Dmitri Young||Singled with two outs in bottom of ninth inning, scored on Alfonso Soriano's home run, but all for nought.||AL 5, NL 4.|
|2008||Yankee Stadium, New York||Cristian Guzman||Pinch-runner in the ninth, then six innings at third base; zero hits in three at-bats.||AL 4, NL 3. (15)|
|2009||Busch Stadium III, St. Louis||Ryan Zimmerman||5th-9th innings at third base; zero hits in two at-bats||AL 4, NL 3|