I love the Major League Baseball All Star game. Sure, it’s a bunch of millionaires playing an irrelevant game, regardless of Bud Selig’s attempt to heighten interest by giving home field advantage in the World Series to the winning league. The American League wins every year anyway.
Plus, Interleague play and free agency has watered down the importance of the classic substantially. I’ll admit, as the game ventures on into the later innings I tend to lose interest. I begin flicking around to the news and Seinfeld reruns. This past Tuesday night it was the Watchmen graphic novel on Space that garnered more of my attention as baseball’s all stars battled into the night.
You see, it’s the first 2 innings of the game that glues me to the television screen. On what other stage could you find the two best pitchers in the game dealing to baseball’s greatest and most revered hitters?
Last night the top of the 1st inning featured San Francisco Giants fire-baller, Tim Lincecum, pitching to a who’s who of American League talent. Lincecum is the reigning National League Cy Young award winner with a 10-2 record and three of the most dominant pitches in baseball.
First up…Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners. Ichiro has 1900 hits since he entered the league in 2001. That’s about 220 hits a year. This year he’s batting .362.
Batting second: Derek Jeter. Jeter is probably the greatest winner of our generation. 4 World Series titles; that incredible play against Oakland in 2002; crashing into the wall and flying backwards into the seats of old Yankee Stadium to catch a foul ball vs Boston. Jeter may go down as the most recognizable baseball name of the past 15 years.
Batting third.. from the Minnesota Twins..Joe Mauer! Mauer is already on pace to be the greatest catcher of all time. This year he’s hitting .371!
After all that, comes to the plate Mark Texeira, Jason Bay, Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, and the 8th place hitter, Aaron Hill. The Blue Jay`s second baseman has 20 home runs and 60 rbi’s at the all star break! He wouldn`t even be starting had Dustin Pedroia not dropped out due to personal reasons.
Somehow, Lincecum only gives up 2 runs, which could be attributed to an error by hometown favourite Albert Pujols (although, Pujols made about 4 stellar defensive plays after).
Pitching for the American League? None other than the greatest pitcher in baseball, Toronto’s Roy “Doc” Halladay. Halladay is 10-3 and still the most durable and reliable pitcher in the game.
Doc would set down in order; Hanley Ramirez, the best shortstop in the game. Chase Utley, the best second baseman in the National League, and Albert Pujols, the best player in baseball.
It wasn’t until the 2nd inning when Yadier Molina, the weakest hitter in both lineups, had the big hit against Halladay to drive in a run. Prince Fielder, the home run derby champ from the night before, then drove in 2 runs with a double to give the NL a lead they would eventually relinquish.
The game played out from there and, of course, the AL won again. But watching two incredible pitching talents go pitch for pitch with that bevy of pure hitting talent is what make the MLB all star game so great, and so much better than the all star games of the other major professional sports.
It doesn`t hurt that baseball is still primarily divided by two leagues that feature two very distinct and different ways of playing the game. That is why it is essential that the American League never change the designated hitter rule, and why the National League never adopt it.
CFL Misses Great Opportunity
As a CFL fan, I find it frustrating that the league brass does not recognize it`s opportunity to promote the game. For example, not scheduling games the night after the MLB all star game. As much as I love the all star game, I loathe the night after.
I call it Black Wednesday.
It is the only single day of the year when there is absolutely not one game of interest being played anywhere in Canada or the United States.
Nothing. Zilch. Nada.
If I was the commissioner of the CFL, I would schedule a double header featuring teams with traditional rivalries, on the night after baseball`s midsummer classic. Games that get CFL fans excited.
With absolutely nothing else on, sports starved fans who don`t traditionally watch the CFL, may actually sit down and spend a couple of hours watching Canadian professional football. They may even like what they see.
If the CFL is ever going to grow, they have to start taking advantage of these types of chances to give the league greater exposure.
Dysfunctional Mike Kelly Press Conference
If you`re a fan of watching football coaches melt down in front of the media (see Denis Green and Jim Mora), make sure you catch Mike Kelly, head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, answer questions about one of his staff members getting caught spying on a Hamilton Tiger Cats practice. Kelly may find himself on TSN Top 10 lists for years to come.
Below is the transcript from the Winnipeg Free Press.
A look at the exchange between Bomber head coach and the media in his daily press conference on Wednesday, just after Director of Football Operations Ross Hodgkinson answered questions about their scout being ejected from Ticat practice:
Kelly (just after walking in with a grin on his face): “So, a whole pile of people decided to get paid today, huh? Lazy asses. Something happens and then you show up, right? OK.
Media: So something’s happened?
Kelly (pretending to be breathlessly interested): What? I don’t know. Tell me! Quick!
Media: Did you see anybody taking notes or drawing diagrams in the stands?
Kelly: Yeah, there was a group of Kindergartners out there and they had all their Crayolas and were writing feverishly.
Media: Did you have them escorted from the building?
Kelly: No, I like Kindergartners.
Media: Were you aware of the scout’s plans in Hamilton?
Kelly: Non issue. It’s handled internally. I’ve got nothing to say.
Media: It’s an issue. The CFL has sent a directive out, so…
Kelly: It’s a non-issue to me… a non-issue to me.
Media: The Tiger-Cats are accusing you of cheating. That’s not an issue, coach?
Kelly: I don’t care what anybody has to say about it. It’s a non-issue, it’s been handled internally and I’m not talking about it.
Media: You constantly tell us you’re the head of the football operations and responsible for everything.
Kelly: Right. Non-issue. Handled internally. I’m not talking about it. Now, what don’t we understand about that, OK?
Media: It seems a contradiction…
Kelly: Non-issue, handled internally. Not talking about it. There we go, we’re done. Next question.
Media: You mean handled internally with meetings…
Kelly: Do you understand what ‘internally’ means? It’s been handled internally. I’m not talking about it. It’s over with. Move on. Next question.
Media: What’s the normal procedure for pre-scouting, the relationship with your scouts, the normal operating procedure kinda thing for scouting a game?
Kelly: Sure, you tell me what ‘normal operating procedure’ is and then we’ll go from there. Next question?
Media: On a normal week would you have scouts at a practice…
Kelly: Did you not listen to anything I said. I’m not talking about this. It’s a non issue. It’s over with. It’s done. Now, unless you have something else to say I’m not talking about it. So you can take that and leave the building. It’s that easy. Do we all understand each other now? Good. Next question. Got nothing to say? Enjoy your day fellas, we’ll see you at Ivor Wynne Stadium.