Change-UpJuly 10, 2007
All-Star Game Stream of Consciousness
By Patrick Sullivan

Let's be honest. The All-Star Game is a tough take these days. A number of the participants don't belong, neither team plays all that hard (no matter how much Bud Selig wants it to count) and the event just comes off as forced.

But to spice up the experience for myself and hopefully some readers willing to refresh Baseball Analysts throughout the contest, I thought I would write about some of the players, teams and themes as they pop into my head. There will be some quick player analyses, some glimpses at who might or might not belong, which teams look formidable for the second half and I can't imagine there will not be some critique of Fox's coverage.

I will start by saying that AT&T Park is absolutely beautiful. I was at this game in 2003, Sidney Ponson's first start as a Giant. That might not seem all that cool but it was an electric night in the park because believe it or not, Ponson was pretty good that year and it was one of the more impactful deadline deals of that season. He pitched well, but took the loss and in a season during which he put up a .321/.529/.749 line, I saw Barry Bonds go one for three with a lousy single and a lousy walk. If I sound bitter, I am. The other time I went to go see Bonds while I was in college, he did not even start.

Anyway, AT&T Park is great and even if it has lost some of its luster, the All-Star Game is still the All-Star Game. So hang around if you are inclined, drop some of your own thoughts in the comments section and we'll enjoy the game.


So this is pretty cool. Willie Mays is getting one of those Ted-Williams-in-'99-at-Fenway type of tributes. It's a nice idea. When the game comes to your town, you honor your club's best.

Anyway, in case you didn't know, Mays was awesome. He hit .302/.384/.557 over the course of his career while playing a whale of a center field for most of those seasons. Also, Joe Buck just made a good point. He was the first African American player whose entire career unfolded in an integrated Major League Baseball. I dunno, I think it's a cool tidbit, something I had never considered and pretty damn significant.


Presented without comment: Eric Byrnes is miked up for Fox in a kayak floating around McCovey Cove with his pet bulldog.


Jake Peavy and Dan Haren were excellent choices to start this game. Both are deserving on their own merits and given that they both toil in their league's respective West divisions, it's a nice hat tip to West Coast baseball with the game in San Francisco and all. Peavy has tossed 119 innings of 184 ERA+ ball while Haren has thrown 129.3 innings and boasts a 187 ERA+.

And after giving up a single to Ichiro, Peavy just induced a double play off the bat of Derek Jeter. Strikeouts and groundballs is Peavy's M.O. Somewhere, Rich Lederer smiles.

After Prince Fielder drops a routine throw from Chase Utley on one corner of the diamond, David Wright makes a sparkler to end the inning on the other side. Peavy is out of the 1st unscathed.


Carlos Beltran had a 95 OPS+ in 2005 and now, at the age of 30, boasts a good-but-not-great 118 figure. Granted he had an excellent year in 2006 (153 OPS+) but it was easily his best year. Is it possible that Beltran just might not be that good?


Tim and Joe wondered why Jose Reyes attempted the steal with Barry Bonds up and no outs in the first (I went with "because he's really fast and is successful about 80% of the time"). Anyway, now that he has been knocked in on a two-out single by Ken Griffey Jr., Buck explains to us how the scenario that played out demonstrated "what Reyes does for the Mets."


Brad Penny is walking more batters and striking out fewer hitters than last year but boasts a 183 ERA+. His career figure is 108.

Sell. High.


Russell Martin, the NL's starting catcher tonight, has walked 34 times in 2007. His American League counterpart donning the Tools of Ignorance, Pudge Rodriguez, has drawn 5 bases on balls this year.

Meanwhile, after noting Martin has swiped 16 bases thus far in 2007, Joe asks Tim, a former catcher himself, what his career high was. "Thirteen," McCarver responds as sure as can be. Go ahead and look. His high was nine in 1966.


Psst. Joe. Ichiro re-signed.

There has been a lot of talk that David Ortiz is having a down year. He's not. He is hitting fewer home runs than he has in years past but thanks to his .434 on-base, he has been just about as productive an offensive contributor as the Sox could have hoped for.

Dane Cook. Sigh.


Another Lederer guy, Cole Hamels, takes the hill. He's got a killer change-up, which has allowed him to notch 124 strikeouts so far this season. At just 23 years old, the sky's the limit for this kid.

Speaking of limits, Magglio Ordonez is maxed out. A career .309 hitter, he is batting .367 this season. He has not slugged over .500 since 2003. He is slugging .604 in 2007. Like Penny, I would be selling high on Mags.


Buck, McCarver and Rosenthal on PED's. Kill me. Despite my hometown team's ace being on the hill, mark the bottom of the 4th inning of the 2007 All-Star Game as the least enjoyable frame of baseball I have ever watched.


OK, I took my fair share of Classics courses and have a decent understanding of the events that unfolded in the Battle of Thermopylae. And I get it that Chris Young and Derrek Lee are big guys who fought briefly one Saturday afternoon at Wrigley. Heck Young may have taken some Classics too - Princeton's got a helluva department. But what in God's name is Tim McCarver talking about when he calls the Young/Lee melee "The Battle of Thermop-A-Lee Two"? Were Leonidas and Xerxes big?

Ichiro just hit an inside-the-park home run. Did I mention this is an All-Star Game? How many of these things could there possibly have been? 2-1 AL midway through the game.


Chase Utley graduated a year ahead of my wife from Long Beach Polytechnic High School. He is now on a really short list of the game's best players. A second baseman, this season he is hitting an astounding .325/.401/.571.


Home run, Carl Crawford. He hit it off of Francisco Cordero. Carl is a really interesting player. On the one hand, he is supremely athletic and a great left fielder. On the other, he does not walk as much as you would like to see. But then he steals bases often and efficiently. And yet he plays left field, where guys with a line like Crawford's are a dime a dozen. I can't get a read on him.

Beltran triples off of Justin Verlander to that same nook in right field where Ichiro hit his inside the parker and Crawford cleared the wall. Griffey sacrifices him home on another sharply hit ball to right field. 3-2 AL.


Top of the 7th and we have a Freddy Sanchez sighting. Sanchez is hitting.296/.326/.383.


So Jim Leyland has some decent options to nail this thing down. Johan Santana in the seventh, with Hideki Okajima, Jonathan Papelbon, J.J Putz, John Lackey and Bobby Jenks yet to appear? Yikes.

Victor Martinez just homered with Mike Lowell aboard to make it 5-2. Given the options mentioned above that Leyland has, I think that will do it.

Time for bed.


Your boy Eric Byrnes is playing in deep right field.

For some reason, I kinda like Byrnes. He always ticked me off when he was in Oakland but I think I dig his whole act now.

Fox dropped the ball.

the pregame show.
the hooking up of the keyboard delay for a poor rendition of 'god bless america'.
Tim McCarver.

all bad.

that inside the parker was the first ever at an all-star game, right?

This is great stuff. Love the stream of consciousness insights.

Here are several such comments of mine...

  • First of all, explain TLR's batting order. Utley batting eighth? Puh-leeze! He has been the NL's 1st half MVP and should be hitting above Martin for sure and a strong case could be made on behalf of him over Wright and even Beltran.
  • I hesitate to knock Martin as I think he has been one of the top five players in the NL thus far.
  • Good call on Penny. He started last year's All-Star game and had a horrible second half. I'm not suggesting that the past is prologue, but his peripherals, as you pointed out, just do not support an ERA anywhere close to 2.00.
  • Speaking of Penny, did everyone notice the exchange of smiles between him and IRod when they faced each other? Batterymates on the Florida Marlins WS Championship team in 2003. I know they are playing for home field advantage, but I actually like that kind of thing in an All-Star game.
  • McCarver's quick "13" in response to Buck's question about Tim's single-season high in SB was a classic in light of the fact that the real answer is only "9". Good research and way to call him out.
  • I picked Ortiz to win the AL MVP before the season and have definitely noticed his outstanding OBP but his reduced HR output will weigh heavily against him come voting time. The fact that he is a DH should be a factor, but there is nothing wrong with a .434 OBP coupled with 30 HR (which is just above his pace).
  • I have a real problem with managers selecting more relievers than starters. That's just ridiculous and is another reason why this game should be an exhibition and nothing more.
  • Let me get this straight: KRod gets a save for that performance? Aargh!
  • McCarver may have been thinking of his best in triples, which was 13 and which led the NL in 1996.

    It looks like you went to bed a bit to early...

    As for the Battle of Thermopylae comments, I would have to assume McCarver was referring to the film 300, in which Xerxes was portrayed as a giant.

    It was great that they bothered to notice that Victor Martinez has lead all catchers in almost every offensive category over the last 3 years.

    One of the biggest differences between the English and Spanish broadcasts was that none of the external stuff made it to foxsportsla. No Mays, no anthems, no US nationalism. When rosters came out countries were mentioned for each player. It was interesting seeing the same chevy truck ad but without the xenophobic music.

    BTW: Does anybody know why Estados Unidensos is
    EE.UU.? Do they double the leters to indicate plural? Maybe we should call them RR.B.I. ;-)

    does fox understand listening to those 2 for 3 hours is aweful????!!! seriously, they cant possibly think those 2 are good.

    my favorite part is them trying to recognize pitches.
    "92 slider from peavy holy smokes!!!!" ughhhh

    and is tony larussa THAT great of a manager. how do you leave the BEST NL totally out of the game? If you want him as a ultility guy THEN PINCH HIT HIM FOR HUDSON.
    not to mention he bats bonds second, utley 8th and a guy hitting 260 in beltran 3rd. no wonder the NL loses every year.

    1) reyes ("why is he stealing 2nd" (becuase joe buck he NEVER does that or anything)
    2) utley
    3) griffey
    4) bonds
    5) wright
    6) martin
    7) beltran
    8) feilder (utley is throwing me some heat over here!!!)
    should have been the order

    So are you being serious with Beltran or are you just busting his chops? He's maybe not as good as what? He had that 95 ops+ in 2005, but that # was the lowest of his career other than his second full year when he was 23 and had an OPS+ of 68. So you're pulling out two years of his career to make a point? Would you like to, say, throw out his best and worst years and then add up the numbers or something to get a best result?

    I'm not even going to add up those numbers, I know that it's going to come out very close to his total career numbers. He's got a 114 OPS+ for his career, beginning as a full-time player at the age of 22. All while playing a very good centerfield and stealing almost 30 bases a year at about an 85% success rate.

    Um, what are the negatives that you have with this guy? I can't see any, so why the no-love stance?

    Batting Bonds second isn't that crazy of an idea. Rob Neyer was advocating it years ago, and it makes some sense with his consistently ludicrous OBP. It does have the effect of getting him more at-bats in both the long run and (possibly) the short run -- as long as you don't ask him to change his approach (and what do you suppose he would say if you did?), it would probably work out pretty well.

    Fair question, Nathaniel. He was paid perennial MVP candidate money, has a reputation that I would say is about in line with his contract and I would just say he falls a good bit short of that.

    But as you laid out, he is a very good player.

    I wish someone would revoke all FOX rights to broadcast baseball. Given the slower nature of the game compared with football, there's too much exposure for the comedy team of Zelasko and Kennedy. At least there was just one shameless shilling of a network program, when Zelasko "interviewed" Homer Simpson to promote the upcoming movie (although that was fairly well done: Maglio Ordonez as Sideshow Bob?). Thankfully there were no actors from FOX shows in the crowd to chat up as there seem to be during the World Series ("So, Keifer, what would Jack Bauer, your character on 24 find more troublesome: nuclear terrorists or standing in against a Billy Wagner fastball?"), And they wonder why ratings are down? I would much rather have seen more of Jeter and Griffey with Willie Mays.

    RE: C Joseph

    1) this is an all star game so getting more ABs in one game dosent matter becuase he was going to play th whole game anyway
    2) the difference between batting 2nd and 3rd throughout the cant be more than 10 ABs difference.
    3) i understand the OBP arguement, but, this is an all star game...he could have used his amazing OBP in front of griffey or wright or point being that the lineup is so loaded him getting on base in front of anyone would be great...
    and him hitting second dosent make sense also because of how slow he is...clogging up the bases

    i can see how it might make sense in the reg. season to bat second, but def. not inthe all star game

    To be fair, I didn't actually watch the game, but even in the All Star game, it seems like it could bring about an extra at-bat before he has to play very many innings in the field and be benched. After all, it is just an exhibition. (Which is why I didn't watch it.)

    That said, batting Beltran third in a lineup that has a resurgent Griffey, Bonds, Utely, and Wright probably isn't the best idea.

    As to point number two, that's a complicated question to answer, and I don't have the data to do it right now. My memory is that batting leadoff can garner a hitter as many as 60-70 extra at-bats over batting lower in the order. Even if the difference between batting third or fourth and batting second is only ten at-bats, with a guy like Bonds, that's still five times on base, including an extra-base hit. It's not massive, but it's not completely negligible either.

    The whole batting order question is an extremely difficult one to answer. Most compuer simulations I've seen seem to indicate that an optimal arrangement would be to have your two best hitters bat second and fourth, which seems intuitively correct to me, if not completely in line with received wisdom. Of course, those simulations are what they are -- computer simulations. If you asked Bonds to bat second on a regular basis, he could have any of a number of negative reactions that could have a deleterious effect on his performance: He could pout, he could change his approach, he could press, and so on. Computer simulations wouldn't take that into account.

    Those 10 or so ABs ARE negligible when you consider he has fewer RBI chances throughout the whole season batting second.

    yeah a lead off hitter will get more ABs because the way the lineup turns over in a 27 out game blah blah, obviously the leadoff hitter will get more ABs than someone farther down the order.

    but the only difference between 2nd and 3rd would be every time the number 2 hitter makes the last out in a game with the 3rd hitter on deck..probably wont happen that much.

    its pretty well known that you want a guy who can bunt and move guys over to bat second.

    in an all star game, u can just wait another inning to give bonds another AB lol...there is a huge difference between batting 2nd in the all star game and throughout the year...bonds shouldnt be htting 2nd in either