The Rally Monkey is off their back. In Angel Stadium, home of Rally Monkeys, thunder sticks, Splash Mountain fountains and other features that just wreak with baseball tradition, the National League beat the American League 3-1 for the first time since 1996. How long ago was that? The Ozone Layer was still fine. Blur was a big hit group. Almost Perfect was even still on the air.
But it was the big Midsummer Classic -- a chance to see the best second-tier players in all of baseball after most of the real All-Stars canceled due to injury or disqualification.
Utility man Omar Infante of the Braves made it even though he's not good enough to start on his own team. And since every club must have at least one representative we saw Michael Bourn of the Astros, hitting a stout .255 with one home run.
Meanwhile, the only player the American League didn't use was Alex Rodriguez. Huh???
Having one player from every team was fine when you never saw these guys. But now every game of every team is on TV, your computer, and your phone. Plus, there are now 30 teams, not 16 like the old days. It's especially tough for the American League since they also have to work in the obligatory ten Yankees and ten Red Sox.
The big story of the night, of course, was the passing of George Steinbrenner. Even in death "the Boss" knew how to grab the headlines. So we were treated to florid tributes of this man who did so much for baseball he was banned from the game twice. What he was was a brilliant businessman. He bought the Yankees in 1973 for $8.7 million and now, with the combination of the club and the YES network, its value is close to $3.2 billion. I wish he had bought America instead in 1973.
The host Angels can call themselves "Los Angeles" all they want. As Fox announcer Joe Buck said repeatedly, the game was played in Anaheim. There's a difference. It's like George Lazenby calling himself James Bond.
Now that the All-Star game counts I noticed a much greater intensity on the part of the Kansas City Royal and Pittsburgh Pirate players for that coveted home field advantage in the World Series.
In the pre-game show, wasn't that "All-Stars Among Us" feature lovely and touching? Okay, be honest. You fast-forwarded through it, didn't you? Yeah, so did I. But I would have been moved I'm sure.
Monday was the annual Home Run Derby. I never know how that works. The rules seem to change during the competition. Some guy could hit 30 in a row and lose. Maybe they explain it but truthfully, I never watch. Why? Chris Berman. He's the ooga horn of sportscasters.
Glad that Big Papi won. His acknowledgment of the late Jose Lima was a classy gesture.
More people watch the Home Run Derby than divisional playoff games (this is true).
Best home run derby moment was a few years ago when Barry Bonds stepped up to the plate and the Astros bullpen catcher signaled for an intentional walk.
Amber Riley from Glee sang some improvisational power ballad that vaguely resembled the National Anthem.
Nice to see Rod Carew throw out the first pitch; probably the only Jew the Angels ever had.
As usual, Joe Buck did a fine job. But Tim McCarver? First of all, why do you even need an analyst on an All-Star game? It's not like there's any strategy in these affairs. No one has bunted since 1946. So what we're left with is incessant yammering about nothing and vital statistics like Guerrero "has the most RBI's and home runs for any player who changed teams." WOW!!!!
Kudos to Atlanta's Brian McCann, named the MVP for his bases-clearing game-winning double. Chris Rose from Fox handled the postgame interviews and proved to be as good at it and prepared as Melissa Rivers at the Oscars. Chris to Brian McCann: "So in 1996 you were like three. What do you remember about that game?" A) What three-year-old remembers an All-Star game? and B) McCann said he was eight. Undaunted, Melissa asked him where his big hit ranks in his career? What's the answer to that? Ninth. No wait, eleventh. Fortunately, they cut away before Ms. Rivers could ask if he still bit his nails?
Fox is so committed to baseball they ran a promo proclaiming, "It's time to get back to FOOTBALL -- The NFL on Fox".
Does anybody in their right mind keep score of an All-Star game?
I love Derek Jeter. In tribute to Bob Sheppard, the longtime Yankees P.A. announcer who passed away Sunday at 99, he used Sheppard's introduction of him whenever he came to bat. And will continue to for the rest of his career. Unlike "the Boss," when you say wonderful things about Bob Sheppard, you mean them.
The All-Star game is the only time a member of the San Diego Padres is ever on national television... even though they're leading their division.
For the first five innings I thought I was watching the World Cup. 0-0. Zzzzzz.
How utterly insipid was that "Head, shoulders, knees, and toes" feature Fox ran when Vladimir Guerrero was up at bat? This is the fucking All-Star Game, not Dora the Explorer!
Here's what I'd really like to see in an All-Star game -- a benches clearing brawl. Would guys get suspended from future All-Star games? Would Yankees and Red Sox start wailing on each other even though they're on the same team?
Some real "Diamond Gems." A terrific diving catch by Ryan Braun (who statistically is an even worse outfielder than Manny Ramirez and he ranks below Betty White), and a heads-up play by Marlon Byrd to turn a single into a force out in the 9th inning.
At least there is defense in a baseball All-Star game. Were it played like its NBA counterpart (or in Colorado) the final score would be 69-58.
During one commercial break Fox segued from an ad for Walt Disney into one for Las Vegas.
The All-Star Game is a lot like the Academy Awards. It never lives up to the hype, you don't recognize half the stars, the interviews are inane, and it's usually too long, but every year you gotta be there. See you next summer in Arizona (unless they move it because of Senate Bill 1070. Or, like the Angels, they can play the game in San Francisco and just say it's Arizona.)