Before I delve into the mid-summer classic, I thought I'd give credit where credit is due. Fox Sports seems to have taken the cue that sports fans like sports and not distractions. I decided to take notes on how often Fox broke away from game coverage to cover:
1) Free Agent chat
2) Interviews with players who were replaced
3) Manager/coach interviews
4) Stars of TV shows on Fox
5) Analysis of LeBron
And frankly, I didn't fill up a page:
7:48p CDT First Pitch
8:23p - A brief and misplaced discussion of Andy Pettitte's children was commenced at which point there was a groundout to SS (with the go ahead run on base) to end an inning but they couldn't call it b/c of the non-play discussion. Just seemed pointless.
8:27p - A brief player microphone feature of Pettitte and Mauer getting together on pitches. Seriously, every catcher and pitcher in the All Star game do this.
8:35p - Interview with Girardi. Here we go, cue the parade of dugout interviews instead of the action. If my notes are to be believed it was during an Ichiro AB. Was pleased that it was brief, touched on Steinbrenner, and wasn't the usual "Pitcher needs to throw more strikes, batter needs to pick out his pitches, we need to shut down their running game" coach speak.
I showed no more meaningless chatter until Adrian Gonzalez batted at 9:22, but they sprinkled in positive praise of the Padres w/o missing the action and I thought it was well done.
9:43p - Jeter dugout interview (with non-coincidental Gatorade towel prominently displayed), were bailed out by Rolen having a long AB. It was this AB that I believe started the rally. Good thing they didn't drone on too long.
I'll let alone that every single one of the distractions involved Yankees and call that coincidence. Nobody asked about Josh Johnson's kids, nobody showed the footage of Molina talking over pitches with Jimenez, nobody asked Hanley Ramirez his thoughts on the game when he was removed.
But on to the main course. For some reason, everyone with a platform is declaring "shenanigans" that the All Star game as mismanaged. As if this hasn't happened in every game since 1985. Did something change? Is it b/c the AL lost and Ortiz was embarrassed on the basepaths? Funny, when the AL won they were praised for their intensity level at which they played. When the NL wins, the coach gets blamed. Little credit to Byrd for the throw, little discussion of Rolen's 1st to 3rd on Hunter. Little discussion of the litany of gold gloves in the field in the 9th for the NL (Bourn, AdGon, Rolen). It was these same things that won the game for the AL year after year. That and Rivera (while the NL tried to roll out soft throwers like Hoffman and Beck and Doug Jones).
But tons of articles decrying the travesty that was the coaching (even though it has been the coaching for 25 years):
Jim Caple - ESPN
Blair Johnson/Steve Henson - Yahoo
Joe Sheehan - CNNSI
Joe Paul Morosi - Fox Sports
I can't say I disagree. I also have in my notes that Albert Pujols left the game at 8:40p, and by 9:02p, the first half inning occurred where Buck had to spend 3 or more pitches reviewing all the changes. So our fan voted All Stars got all of about 74 minutes of action, the other 100+ were players like John Buck, Michael Bourn, Chris Young, Matt Capps, Nick Swisher, Phil Hughes, Matt Thornton, Marlon Byrd. You know, all those players that every kid wants their jersey. Meanwhile, Pujols, Jeter, Mauer, Ichiro, Vlad, Longoria, Howard were all sipping their postgame ice tea taking in the action.
If you want to fix the game, go back to 30 player rosters, every starter goes the distance unless situation calls for a switch. You're talking lefty/righty, pinch runner, use Bourn for defense, double switch in a key hitter in an inning you need runs. Baseball. I would actually say that the NL should have taken 3 catchers. Right the fans wrong of voting in Molina by replacing him in the 2nd inning with McCann and still have Olivo to play.
As for those gameday injuries that seem to have kept A-Rod out, how about having an actual All Star Roster of 34 players, but declaring 4 as inactive right before gametime. They are still on the team, but the dinged up Beltre's and A-Rods and pitchers who aren't going to go can be designated unavailable.
One final note, it's near impossible to find a roster of the final all stars. All are some sort of interim version, and even the final there are so many symbols next to them, I don't know who played and who didn't? This guy was hurt and replaced, this guy was a replacement, this guy was picked but is now a starter, this guy started on Sunday and can't pitch, this guy replaced a guy who started on Sunday and can't pitch, etc.
Pick 34, replace the known injured players (Tulo, Pedroia, etc.) then come gameday, activate 30.
And play the best players. If everyone agrees, then nobody gets their feelings hurt that they didn't play. It's not that I didn't get to play, it's that my name is Marlon Byrd and I play on a team with Ethier, Braun, and Hart in the OF and they're just better. Well, except for Hart.