All-Stars and more

You see, every time we do a baseball trip, something happens that hasn’t happened in a long time. In 2004, it was the Red Sox winning the World Series. In 2010, it’s the National League winning the All-Star Game (because it’s looking like it’s not going to be the Cubs winning the World Series, or even the NL pennant).

All my photos from the trip have been uploaded to Flickr, and they’re in this set.

I’m going to be at an event in the South Bay area of California this weekend, and decided to attend the Giants-Mets game Saturday evening. It’s Tim Lincecum bobblehead night! Sadly, San Jose Mercury News reporter (and friend of Andrew Baggarly won’t be around — since he worked the All-Star Game, the newspaper is giving him the Mets series off.

Actual Rays All-Star awesomeness

Yes, living on the West Coast makes it slightly easier to stay up until the conclusion of

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15-inning baseball games.

Scott Kazmir: winning pitcher. Evan Longoria: hit crucial ground-rule double. Dioner Navarro: probably did some good stuff that I can’t remember right now because I’m sleepy.

Rays awesomeness watch (still a regular feature)

After sweeping the Red Sox, the Rays are in first place in the AL East by 3-1/2 games and have the best record in baseball (52-32).

However, I’m assuming no

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Rays have been chosen as All-Star Game starters, but I guess we’ll find out when they announce the lineups Sunday.

Only the finest in baseball-related jokes

Turns out that if you have high-definition TV, the picture clarity is such that you can see pain lines and pain stars. However, it looks like it’s hard to keep the colors in balance on these old-timey woodgrain-cabinet HDTVs: the blue on the Dodgers uniform looks black, and Dodger Stadium and the denizens thereof look green. Actually, with those vertical posts visible in the stands, it looks more like Fenway Park.

In other news, please note that on May 11th, I correctly predicted that Scott Kazmir would be the Devil Rays’ sole All-Star Game representative.

Get your game on, go play

My thoughts about the All-Star Game, and Fox’s coverage thereof…

  • Perhaps you should not, during your pregame show that is tightly timed and controlled to the second, go live on the air and ask Ernie Harwell a question about Al Kaline, because he will of course give a long-winded answer, thus causing Jeanne Zelasko to have to cut him off and look like a jerk doing it. (I almost wrote “big jerk,” but I don’t want some pro-pregnancy group complaining about my choice of words to describe a woman who is, uh, with child.)
  • British national anthem? I know “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” when I hear it! The amount of patriotic songs played before and during baseball games is growing out of control.
  • Hey, I thought Scooter was dead! Too bad every kid who cares already knows what a change-up is because they’re faithfully rendered in video games these days, probably with better camera angles than Fox has available.
  • Hey, it’s the descendant of the glowing blue hockey puck, this time showing the path of the ball to the plate.
  • For a second, I thought they said Jim Bouton was the general manager of the Nationals, but it’s actually someone named Jim Bowden. Too bad; Jim Bouton might reach Ed Hart-ian levels of general manager-ness.
  • I should have realized the game was going to be sponsored by Chevrolet and gotten an apple Home Run Pie at the supermarket on Sunday, but no, all I had was lemon. It was slightly better than the vanilla pie I ate Sunday, but not much. I think I’m going to stick to Hostess fruit pies for my future fruit pie needs; they also do a good job of distracting comic-book villains, as I understand it.
  • Joe Buck: You can tell a lot about Dontrelle Willis by the way he wears his hat.
    Me (singing): The way he wears his hat, the way he sings off-key…
    Tim McCarver (starts babbling about how if Gershwin were alive today, he might have written that song about Dontrelle Willis)

    Oh, my God, I’m starting to think like Tim McCarver — well, sort of, since I had the sense to just start singing the damn song, instead of talking incoherently about it.

  • Those red-white-and-blue bases that were used at Tiger Stadium for the 1971 All-Star Game look pretty cool and retro, like ABA basketballs. All we get in the 21st century is “Spider-Man” advertising.
  • Doesn’t Fox realize “Bad News Bears” is not a 20th Century Fox movie? I guess they’ll take anyone’s money. And I guess no actual Fox stars wanted to go to Detroit, just noted crazy person Billy Bob Thornton.
  • No Danys Baez in the game? Poor Devil Rays. Guess I’ll have to take advantage of DirecTV’s post-All-Star-Game preview of MLB Extra Innings to watch, say, the Devil Rays-Blue Jays game on Friday. The TiVo is already set.
  • Is the National League ever going to win the All-Star Game again? I know, one might have expressed similar sentiments about the American League in, say, 1981.

Two more reasons to always read King Kaufman

1) Because he watches dreck like the Home Run Derby so you don’t have to.

2) Because if you don’t read him–or watch dreck like the Home Run Derby–you miss things like this: “‘There’s nothing better than a home run contest,’ Joe Morgan told Berman, indicating that Morgan needs to get out more.”

If I started right this second naming things that are better than a home run contest, at the rate of, say, one per second, I would still be naming things when the sun burns out or global warming sets my hair on fire or the Left Behind novels are proven spectacularly wrong. And that’s all before I even start thinking about Karl Rove going to jail, and how much better every second of his sentence would be than a home run contest.

A far better question for our legions of fans: what isn’t better than a home run contest?

Just one more

All good readers (and writers) are going to and casting their ballots for Carl Crawford of the Devil Rays in the last roster spot in the All-Star Game, yes? Sure, he’s no Rocco Baldelli, but then, who is?

In other news, it seems the comments aren’t working again, thus making me look like an idiot after I made that post a few days ago. I may have to invoke the nuclear option — actually, it’ll be more of a smart bomb — this weekend.

All-Star Game thoughts

1. That was interesting having the starters enter from the stands, but instead of having them lined up in the aisle, they should all have been sitting in various places around the lower deck, and would have acted surprised when they heard their names called…you know, having to put down their hot dogs, maybe borrowing a glove from the kid next to them, whatever.

2. I am amazed to find out that there are teams in the National League other than the Cubs and the Barry Bondses. I have also heard rumors that there are teams in the American League other than the Yankees and Red Sox, but saw no solid evidence during the game broadcast to back up the gossip.

3. I know Suzuki is a very common last name in Japan, but why does Ichiro Suzuki get to rise to the level of Cher, or Pelé, and get only his first name listed in Fox’s on-screen graphics?

4. Seriously, Joe Buck is almost completely insane, and I’m certain that it’s all Tim McCarver’s fault. They need to be separated immediately before there’s an ugly incident in the press box, and by that I mean Joe Buck should stay where he is and Tim McCarver should be dropped on an iceberg somewhere in the Arctic.

5. Hey, Fox spent some money to upgrade Scooter’s animation since I last saw him! Great; that’s money that could have been spent to teach illiterate kids to read, or to increase the salary of a certain “Malcolm in the Middle” writer.

Original comments…

Toby: I couldn’t agree more about dropping McCarver!! And that’s a great idea about introducing the starters (kind of like a “Price is Right” intro).

Does anyone else remember when Vida Blue played and he had just “Vida” on the back of his uniform?

Levi: I’ve always liked Ichiro!’s first-name-uniform thing in part because of Vida Blue, who was before my time as a fan, but whom I’ve seen in photos.

And I agree wholeheartedly with Jim and Toby about McCarver. I used to like Joe Buck when he was just a kid doing Cardinals broadcasts. He was modest and straightforward and obviously had grown up listening to his dad and Moon Man Shannon. But a few years with McCarver and he’s completely around the bend.

And that was yesterday’s bad news: in the midst of all the good news about how baseball is doing well and ratings are up, Fox has said they may be interested in extending their contract. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!

Steve: 1) How about Piazza getting his revenge by tipping pitches? “Hey Manny, here comes the fastball.”

2) I watched the game with the sound off mostly but it was quite awkward to see them give Clemens whatever award he got in the middle of the game.

3) Fantasia and Ruben both suck!

4) I know its the all star game and the AL was leading and all but talking to the manager in the dugout while the game is happening is just plain wrong.

5) I guess Taco Bell just wrote off that million dollars they gave away since that fat guy who throws as hard as Matt Morris was still able to hit a target the size of rhode island. Where’s the drama.

6) Danny Kolb!

Dan: I was hoping at the last minute there’d be a mixup forcing Muhammad Ali to sing the national anthem and giving the first pitch to Fantasia.

And I’ll say this much.. good thing Piazza wore a catchers’ mask, because I sure bet he was smiling underneath it as the AL rocked Clemens.

Jon Solomon: Comcast has taken to talking to Lary Bowa in the dugout in the middle of certain (non-exhibition) Phillies games. It just isn’t right.

Secho: A couple of weeks ago I was watching a White Sox telecast and they had an in-game interview with Ozzie Guillen, and Hawk prefaced it with something like “I hate that we have to do this in the middle of the game but I guess we do” and then handed it off to DJ who threw some softball questions at Ozzie for 2 or 3 minutes. (BTW, I hope Hawk clubs Mariotti upside the head the next time they cross paths) The whole thing just seems so forced as to counteract any possible insight you can get from the dugout mid-game.

How about Ali throwing up the bunny ears behind A-Rod during the team photo? Good stuff.

Dan: Ali really was the perfect guy to have there, considering his long, righ ties with the game of baseball as well as the city of Houston. Nolan Ryan — you know the guy they had as the Taco Bell pitching coach? — now HE’S a guy that most certainly had no business being there at all

Jason: I didn’t watch the game. Did I miss any shots of Calista Flockhart eating a hot dog?

Levi: I would think that in these worried days of FCC crackdowns, a broadcaster might think twice about interviewing Larry F’in Bowa.

Buck and McCarver interviewed Steve Kline during Saturday’s game, and it was actually kind of fun. On a couple of close plays, Kline said, “Oh, he was out, obviously out,” and Joe would say, “No he wasn’t, Steve.”

And in reference to a statement McCarver said about muscle weighing more than fat, Kline said, “Well, then that bacon I had for breakfast this morning must have had some muscle on it.” And on why he doesn’t stretch much: “I learned that you can’t tear fat. So you don’t have to stretch.”