Some random thoughts in my head about the All-Star Game that was played last night in San Francisco.
As my friend Steve says, "Fox Ruins Baseball." And they did it again last night. The first pitch of the game was thrown at 8:54 PM ET. There is absolutely no excuse for beginning a showcase game of baseball this late to the East Coast. Fox opened their coverage at 7 PM with some "Red Carpet Show," and then the official opener at 8 PM took 54 minutes before Jake Peavy threw the first pitch. There's absolutely no reason why you can't get the game going by 8. (Start the bloody pregame at 7!) It concluded just after midnight, with an exciting bottom of the night that a good part of the nation missed because they had to turn in early (it was a Tuesday night). Perhaps moving the All-Star Game to the weekend might help, but once again Fox is so worried about the West Coast and prime time they make watching a complete game for many in the East impossible.
They may have handled the tribute to Willie Mays before the game well, but Fox continues to do plenty of things wrong.
Ichiro Suzuki continues to be one of the most exciting players to watch in baseball. His inside-the-park homer was a thing of beauty to behold. He had a break since the ball hit the right field wall and didn't come back to the rightfielder, but that put him off to the races. It was not only an inside-the-parker, but it was a standup one as well. Suzuki is the fastest man in baseball to first base (with Jose Reyes and Jacoby Ellsbury close), and he makes it look so effortless on every replay I saw of it last night. A well-deserved MVP of the game. (And Mariners fans got an extra bonus by the news filtering out that he will remain in Seattle, as a new deal appears imminent.)
How out of place did Alex Rodriguez look wearing a suit to the Home Run Derby on Monday night? He wasn't a participant in it, but he looked like he was off to some dinner party after it was over. (Image, image, image.) And what's with the white shoes he and some other All-Stars were wearing last night? What was that, a tribute to Joe Namath and Billy "White Shoes" Johnson or something?
And the big controversy of the night: why was Albert Pujols left on the bench in the ninth, and Aaron Rowand allowed to hit with the bases loaded and two outs and the NL down by a run? While Rowand is a very good player, how do you leave one of the game's feared hitters on the bench? Pujols is royally pissed at the NL manager, who happens to be his Cardinals skipper, Tony LaRussa. Why didn't he use Pujols at all last night? LaRussa owes everyone an explanation for that boneheaded move, especially to players and managers of all the NL teams. (Remember, "this time it counts" as Fox reminds us 100,000 times.)
LaRussa also used nine pitchers, one an inning. Once again, another manager who's trying to get every NL pitcher in the game. He's lucky this game didn't go into extra innings (it almost did), as the NL would have had just three pitchers for extra innings. Jim Leyland played it right, letting Dan Haren and Josh Beckett (your winning pitcher!) pitch two apiece, and had a whole corral of pitchers available.