All-Star Game Stream of Consciousness
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.
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.