Best All Star Game Ever?

Well, 'dowd, you're not the only one who's old.

I, too, couldn't stay up all the way to the end. In fact, at 11:30, Central Time, I was dozing and finally relented, leaving the TV on with the timer set for another hour. Turns out that wouldn't even have been enough.

As my headline indicates, I think this All Star Game probably was the best ever. Sure, I know back in the 40s, players cared more about it all, dad gummit! But seriously, this game, as Dowd mentioned, was played with an intensity the All Star Game rarely sees in any sport. And that's what makes MLB's ASG the best one, by far -- because the players can play the game the way they always play it. The NBA's game has zero defense. The NFL's has nobody show up and no hard hits. The NHL plays a joke of an ASG with nary a body check thrown. But MLB has a game that allows the guys to play as hard as always.

Last night, the game flew along, with pitchers dominating for the first five or six innings. The NL scratched out a run on a Holliday homer into the short porch in right and then eeked out another one against Jonathan Papelbon -- yikes, that was getting ugly with the fans; how often is there booing in the ASG? -- and it was 2-0 NL. They were looking for their first win since, what, 1996? Yowsers.

Of course it was a Red Sox player, JD Drew, who tied it up with a two-run homer. Why do I say "of course"? Well, mainly because I think the entire Sawx roster made the team. (Seriously, .218-hitting Jason Varitek belonged there?)

And it was then that I began worrying that baseball would manage to shoot itself in the foot again. Never before has the league looked as moronic on the field as six years ago in Milwaukee when Bob Brenly and Joe Torre ran out of players and dumped the mess in the lap of the limp Bud Selig, a man who couldn't make a decision between Pepsi or Coke. And we expected him to fix this problem. His solution, of course, was to make the ASG decide home-field advantage three months later in the World Series. Jury is still out on whether this is a good idea, but it at least makes it mean something. And it should make the managers actually manage the game like a real game, which is all anybody wants.

And yet these two idiots managed to almost turn this into a farce. JD Drew was evidently going to be the next pitcher after Scott Kazmir, the Tampa Bay ace who Terry Francona committed to only using if he absolutely had to. And while that might have been amusing, having outfielders pitch to all-star hitters might have been a bit ridiculous.

Sorry for the meandering (but aren't you used to it by now?) but let me touch on the Kazmir thing... I know Tampa Bay didn't want him to pitch at all, but let's think this through. For the first time in their history, the Rays are a legit contender, just a 1/2 game back in the AL East. It's not inconceiveable that they might make the playoffs and, from there, we all know what can happen. So let's say Tampa continues their cinderella season and makes the World Series. Well, now they'll have home field advantage. And if you asked the Tampa Bay front office who they would pitch if they had to win a game to get home field advantage, I bet the answer would be Scott Kazmir.

Other cool moments...

The footage from batting practice where Mariano Rivera is showing Roy Halliday how he throws his cutter and Kazmir is studying Mo's grip like a kid looking at how his dad throws a baseball. I thought that was a really cool moment.

Tim McCarver commenting that a pitch was "in on the hands" and then seeing the replay show it on the outside corner.

The fact that these guys actually played like they cared. Pitching domination followed by a 2-2 game in the 8th, followed by runs being traded to make it 3-3.

The AL loading the bases with nobody out in the 10th and the NL somehow getting out of it. I felt bad for Dan Uggla making two straight errors to start that inning and I was glad they didn't lose because of him. When the next ball was hit to him and the play was home, he was very deliberate and I don't blame him.

I forget who was coming home on one of those force-outs in the 10th, but whomever it was intentionally interfered with catcher Russell Martin to break up the potential for a double play.

And then, of course, the fact that the AL gets a couple of guys on in the 10th or 11th and the guy on second is slow-footed Dionner Navarro, who then gets gunned down on a play at the plate, where Martin actually blocks the plate and applies the tag after a nifty catch of a short-hop.

Even the winning run (pictured above) was a close call. All around, a terrific game and I wish more of the country actually saw the end of it. Nice work, as always, TV whores, making this game start at almost 9 PM Eastern. Well-done.

Are We Seeing The Best Sports Year Ever?

I'm Old!!!!!