Patton: Shining moments missing from All-Star Game

Jul 14 2010 - 4:39pm

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- You can gather the best players in the world, and even tweak the selection process to try to make everyone happy.

You can make it meaningful by giving the winning league the home-field advantage in the World Series.

You can dress it up with celebs and send four fighter jets screaming over the stadium in a pregame flyover.

The only thing you can't legislate is action-packed baseball. Here's how close the All-Star Game was to a 1-0 snooze fest Tuesday:

"We were one pitch away from it," said American League starter David Price, shaking his head and lamenting Brian McCann's two-out, bases-loaded double in the seventh inning that served as All-Star "offense" in the National League's 3-1 win.

Speaking for the rest of us, "Thank you, Brian McCann."

One swing of McCann's bat delivered us from something resembling a World Cup soccer match, or a forfeit.

Some people like 1-0 classics. Me, too -- in the regular season. Not in an All-Star Game. The pitchers were so dominant early that the first four scoreless innings flew by in 53 minutes. Cliff Lee had a six-pitch inning. The commercial breaks were longer than the scoreless half-innings.

Angel Stadium was so quiet, if you closed your eyes you would have guessed it was May and the Angels were losing a game to Cleveland.

This season has been gaining a reputation as the Year of the Pitcher. For most of Tuesday, it was the Night of the Hitting Dead.

"There were a lot of good arms out there," said Philadelphia's Roy Halladay, who was one of the most hittable pitchers, getting "rocked" for two singles, but no runs, in his two-thirds of an inning.

The worst thing an NL arm did all night had nothing to do with the strike zone. In the fifth inning, Dodgers left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo came off the mound to grab Joe Mauer's soft dribbler and lobbed the ball over first baseman Adrian Gonzalez' head for an error that led to the AL's only run -- accomplished, fittingly, without a hit.

OK, so maybe you like low-scoring, well-played games. That would make Tuesday's All-Star Game one-for-two.

Low-scoring, yes. Well-played? You can call them All-Stars, but they don't always play like it. Much of this one was from the "Hey, Kids! Don't Do It Like This!" video collection.

The AL made three base-running errors. Mauer was out trying to go from second to third on a ball hit to shortstop. Elvis Andrus stole second and popped to his feet -- past the bag and was tagged out. And in the ninth inning, large-bodied David Ortiz held up, then couldn't restart his truck in time on John Buck's one-out, bloop single to right and was forced at second by right-fielder Marlon Byrd.

"Awesome play," said Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton, who was bailed out of a growing ninth-inning problem on Byrd's quick, heads-up throw.

On the other hand, as Byrd noted, "It only would have been first-and-second, one-out. They still have to hit against Broxton."

The way the night was going, we understand his confidence.

The NL had its clumsy moments, too. Besides Kuo's wild throw, outfielder Matt Holliday had a line drive by Buck smack into and out of his glove.

Then there was the local disappointment. Broxton ended up with the save, which was nice for him, but the real hometown favorite, Torii Hunter, missed out on two big chances.

In his first at-bat in the fifth inning and a chance to pad the 1-0 lead, with a runner at second and two outs, he flew to right. Then in the seventh, with the tying runs on and two outs, and the stadium awake from its coma and rocking, he struck out against Adam Wainwright.

"Man, I was swinging so hard," said Hunter. "I was a little jumpy. I tried to calm myself down, but Wainwright, he's nasty."

His AL teammates had just six hits, so there was a lot of nasty going around.

"These are the best pitchers, and they showed it tonight," said Byrd.

Save one clutch swing from McCann, they were painfully, monotonously, head-noddingly perfect.

 

From Around the Web

  +