Tag Archive | "MLB All-Star Game"

Baltimore-related Observations from the ASG

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Baltimore-related Observations from the ASG

Posted on 17 July 2013 by Brett Dickinson

The Mid-Summer Classic has passed and as we all expected, was somewhat of a dud.  Though watching four Orioles participate (and one in Chris Tillman watch from the bullpen) is nice for Baltimore, a 3-0 victory for the AL, giving up only three hits, was kind of a bore for the average baseball fan.  But there are some things to take away from the festivities and the game itself.

This is my four Baltimore-related observations from the All-Star Break:

 

1.  The Orioles are a very close knit team.

This was never more evident than watching rival Detroit Tiger (and resident big man), Prince Fielder leg out a triple.  This GIF says it all (seen here), as the three Orioles starters are seen in the dugout chucking it up; not sure if they were laughing with or at Prince, but he didn’t seem to mind.

But if you go back to Chris Davis’ Home Run Derby performance, Adam Jones was there to support him (and wipe his forehead).  These players just seem to really like hanging out with each other; which can only make Buck’s job that much easier.  This fun-loving group of young stars should be entertaining to watch for several years.

 

2. Manny Machado may have been the best defensive player on either roster.

There have been rare moments when a defensive play was the defining moment of the game (Tori Hunter robbing Barry Bonds comes to mind), especially with the amount of power bats each lineup throws out.  Yet, Manny wowed both benches (and all of Twitter) with his snag, deep in the third base hole, to rob Paul Goldschmidt of a base hit (seen here).

The play had shades of his “Web-Gem” from Yankee Stadium a week and a half ago; but considering the moment, it actually may be more impressive.  Orioles’ fans have been watching his fantastic leather and arm for almost a full season, but now the entire baseball world was able to bear witness.

 

3. Baseball is in good hands with its young players.

As already mentioned, Manny Machado stole the show defensively, but other youngsters like: Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez and Mike Trout also shined.  That core of players (all under 25 years old) could be ambassadors for the game for years to come.  Harvey embraced the moment, as the NL starter and host, while displaying his infectious personality during his Jimmy Fallon skit.

Trout has already been widely regarded as one of the best all-around players in baseball, while Machado inserted himself into the conversation with his first-half performance.  The blend of fielding and plate discipline the two display may be unparalleled, come 20 years from now.  Fernandez also dominated in a tough game for the NL, while all of them acted with maturity beyond their years; on and off the field.

Now only if MLB could get Bryce Harper to grow the hell up (nice hair bro!).

 

4. Mariano Rivera is the most respected player in the MLB, since Cal Ripken.

In “Mo’s” last All-Star game, his renowned respect was clearly evident; the players gave him a touching moment on the field by himself, when he came into the game in the 8th (seen here).  The whole game was about Rivera and he was going to win the MVP, as long as he threw one pitch in the game.  The entire display had shades of Cal’s last Mid-Summer Classic; where Alex Rodriquez and Joe Torre forced him to play shortstop and he had that shining-moment home run off Chan Ho Park.

Players in the MLB, no matter the generation, seem to always have an understanding for greatness.  Watching legends, like Ripken and Rivera, receive amazing ovations (as only two players to win the All-Star MVP in their final season) is what makes baseball such a tremendous sport.

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Verlander

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For Love of the Game – Afterthoughts on the Midsummer Classic

Posted on 11 July 2012 by hopebirchfield

Since the tragic fall of the Birdland Empire in 1996, the All-Star game has meant little more than some publicity for Orioles stars overshadowed by a losing ball club. Sure, it was always fun to see one of our disciples (Ripken, Roberts, Mora, and Batista to name a few) proudly displaying bird regalia, but the outcome did not really matter. Despite the recent slide of the Orioles and their subsequent drop in MLB power rankings, fans still hold on to hope that maybe the Orioles will be playoff contenders. With that new mentality, the All-Star game completely transforms from a “my bat is bigger than your bat” showdown of baseball’s elite to something that could give Baltimore home field advantage for the World Series.

To be clear, I do not think this is going to be relevant this year with an 11.8% POFF, but as Lloyd Christmas would say to ESPN, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?”

On Tuesday night, the American League attempted to avoid their third straight loss to the National League at the Midsummer Classic in Kansas City. The lineup for the AL was so densely packed that powerhouse, David Ortiz, was batting 7th and it almost seemed a given that the AL would finally clinch a win. Though the National League had Sandoval, Chipper Jones and the ominous pitching of Cain and R.A. Dickey, the AL had Weaver and Verlander, the 2011 Cy Young and AL MVP Winner.

As the first inning began to unfold, I felt an unsettling wave of familiarity course through my body. Verlander was not on his game and was reminiscent of a hard-throwing Jake Arrieta. In only one inning of work, Verlander gave up four hits on five runs with two BBs and Ks. He struggled with runners on base, consecutively walking Beltran and Posey and then yielding a bases-loaded triple to Sandoval. After this bleak inning, a lot of people switched to regularly scheduled programming. I felt this was a bit premature because it was only the first inning. The AL had All-Star caliber bats (for the most part) and a five run deficit with such offensive talent as Jeter, Cano, Hamilton, Fielder and Ortiz was surely to be surpassed.

Though six hits were generated by the AL, they struggled with the all too familiar RISP woes and never capitalized with a run. Once the domineering pitching of the National League was realized and the lack of offense of the American League was apparent, I was done. I severed all emotional interest, channeled my inner child and simply watched the game. It was no longer about the final numbers, ERAs, WHIPs, etc. No, it was about watching some of baseball’s finest sizzle (or fizzle) and watching the soap opera of baseball unfold.

With a long history that could be considered a veritable sports epic, Chipper Jones would surely emerge as the hero. In the moments before the game, he delivered a speech to the National League that had quotes from “Major League” and valuable insight about the game. His amicability is was one of the reasons he is a household name and one of the reasons why people root for him to succeed. In his final year in baseball, fans of the Atlantic Braves and fans of baseball feverishly voted so Chipper Jones could end his career on a high point with an All-Star game nod. C. Jones first debuted with the Braves in 1993 and has received 8 overall nods to the All-Star Game with the first coming in 1996.

In the 6th inning, pinch-hitter, Chipper Jones walked to the plate and was greeted by the best reception of the evening. As his name was announced, the sold-out crowd rose to their feet, cheering for a living legend that was a shoo-in for Cooperstown. C. Jones is not known for his speed but he ran as though his career relied on. At 40 years old, he dug hard and managed to reach first base on a ball that rolled into to right field. It was one of the moments that remind you why baseball is the greatest sport ever played. Chipper was ecstatic and all smiles as a stadium with no personal vestige in him erupted. For a moment, it was his moment to shine, and the simple beauty of watching was more emotional than anything a Hollywood blockbuster could provide.

In the eighth inning, Orioles’ fans that had “stayed the course” and watched a game that was very reminiscent of several recent Orioles games were rewarded with a glimpse of orange. The middle was completely represented by the birds with A. Jones in center and Johnson bringing the heat down the middle to the familiar glove of Matt Wieters. Though Wieters and Jones did nothing offensively, the bottom of the 7th was dominated by an Orioles presence. The NL was shutout in a1-2-3 inning that gave Jones a fly ball and registered a K for Johnson.

Most All-Star games receive a lot of criticism. Many call them antiquated and no longer needed. But often people forget that sometimes it is not about who wins or loses, but the moments that will go down in history. Moments like watching Chipper Jones do his best Jake Taylor impression when digging to first, or watching the Orioles completely take up the middle of the field are reason enough to keep these love letters to childhood.

 

 

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CitoSucks

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Bud Selig feels your pain

Posted on 11 July 2012 by Adam McCallister

Have you had your feelings hurts?  Have you hit a tough stretch and need to turn your frown upside down?  Your best buddy Bud Selig is ready to give you a great big bear hug and change a rule if he needs to.

While the All-Star game provided insomnia sufferers the best night of sleep since the Yanni music fest it also provided more proof why Bud Selig doesn’t have a clue.

During Monday night’s home run derby the Yankees Robinson Cano was booed continuously by the Kansas City faithful.  Unhappy with Cano’s decision in not choosing Royals all star designated hitter Billy Butler they booed every time the Yankees name was announced and cheered every time Cano recorded an out.  No big deal the home team fans are supposed to react that way.  Baltimore fans nearly 20 years later we still despise Cito Gaston for not putting Mike Mussina in the 1993 All-Star game.  The game was held in our city and in our stadium and this guy from Canada snubs our guy (at the time).  Hell hath no fury like Charm City fans scorn!  Subsequently Gaston was booed ferociously every time he came back to Baltimore.

Similar scenario happened last year when the All-Star game was held in Arizona.  Diamondbacks fans let Prince Fielder know their displeasure when he didn’t choose Justin Upton.  During an interview Tuesday Bud Selig said “We’ll talk about (changing the rules), I felt very badly last night. I felt badly last year for Prince. This was tough.”

The rule that Selig is alluding to is the home run derby rule that allows the captain to pick their own team.  His new rule change would mean that the host team would automatically have a participant in the derby if there is a representative of that team in the game.  Thereby eliminating the controversy caused by Cano’s decision or Fielder from the year before.  Giving the home fans their guy to root for during the hitting exhibition.

On the surface I have no problem with this idea.  He wants to alter a rule for a competition that means absolutely nothing.  Bud if you want to make sure the home team has a guy at the plate that’s cool with me.  If you want the bat boy to take a swing or the mascot to pitch blindfolded go for it.  At the end of the day it means zilch.  It doesn’t affect the standings or decide home field advantage.  Go for it Bud you’ve got my blessing.

What doesn’t make any sense is that while Bud is concerned about Robinson Cano or Prince Fielder getting their feelings hurt, it appears he is happy to offer the same close minded position on the use of video replay.  Selig’s response was that most people don’t want it.  Clearly Bud listens as well to his audience as Justin Bieber obeys speed limits.

Mr. Commissioner I offer to you a crazy idea.  Why not test video replay during an exhibition game?  How about a game where you have the odds in your favor, like the All-Star game?  After all you’ll have the best umpires in the game working the game.  Come to think of it wasn’t Jim Joyce calling first base Tuesday night?  On second thought maybe the odds aren’t stacked in your favor, Bud.  

Adam McCallister WNST audition

Follow me on Twitter: @McCallister_A

 

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monday morning

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This Year, We All Should Embrace The Mid-Summer Classic

Posted on 09 July 2012 by Big Chee

It is Monday Morning. If you are like me on the first day of the work week you are probably trying to ease the depressing realization that the weekend is over and you have the five day grind ahead of you. For me at the 9-5 desk job I am spending the first hour(s) of my day meticulously analyzing my fantasy baseball team and catching up on sports stories I might have missed during the pregame Friday & Saturday night.

The anxiety could be even higher this week, and I may have to spend the beginning of my day reading about how bath salts turn humans into zombies and why Scientology ruined the marriage between Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. Baseball is at its All-Star Break. Wimbledon is over. The Olympics have yet to begin in London. Football, basketball, and hockey have yet to begin. Might I actually have to start “working”? Ugh, this could get brutal. I better drink another Espresso double shot. Embrace yourselves everyone; we are about to experience the worst sports week of the year.

I mention the All-Star Break for baseball, for the past ten years I have taken a dissenting attitude towards MLB’s mid-summer event. That differs in my apathetic stance towards the Pro Bowl, NHL & NBA All-Star Games, where I can watch the highlights on SportsCenter and live with myself.  In 2002, Bud Selig and the MLBPA transformed the event from casual to competitive. I used to hate it. It baffled me that home field advantage in the World Series was indicated by which All-Star Team’s pitchers brought their best stuff during the one inning each of them would get on the mound. It drove me nuts that traditional cellar dwellers like the Royals, Pirates and Orioles (sorry everyone) had at least one player on the All-Star Team, even though there was a better shot of Anna Kournikova coming out of retirement to beat Serena Williams to win the Wimbledon than any of those teams winning the Fall Classic.

This year, I have decided to cave in and embrace the All-Star Game, and I suggest all of you fellow sports fanatics do the same. This year, forget about them ludicrous reasons I mentioned in the previous paragraphs. If you love sports, chances are you are someone who craves competitiveness in sports and life alike. Plus this week, you don’t really have a choice, right? The 4th of July relaxed attitude around your office is over. Daily stresses are back and we are on the full five day work week again.

If you are a Baltimore Orioles Fan, as most of you reading on WNST.net probably are, this is the first time in more than a decade that this game has some real meaning to it. Let’s call a spade a spade, does anyone reading truly believe that the O’s are ready to make a push to play in the World Series? I did not think so. However, heading into the All Star Break, Baltimore is six games back of the Yankees, six games above .500. If the season ended now, the first year of expanded playoffs would open with Baltimore at the Los Angeles Angels for the one-game AL wild card. The guys representing the resurgent O’s this year in Kansas City, Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and Jim Johnson, make up a trio that marks the first time since 2005 that the Orioles have sent multiple players to the All Star Game.

“It’s pretty cool,” Jones said of the group the Orioles will send to Kansas City. “For the last seven years, it’s been one player. You have to win to get more than one player nowadays. Representing the Baltimore Orioles, it’s a tremendous accomplishment for us as a team, also.”

Wieters, who was the Orioles’ representative in last year’s All-Star Game also added, “It makes it even more fun that you get to share something with your teammates that you’re battling the whole year with.”

Comparing baseball’s All Star Game to the other major sports in the United States, one cannot forget the fact that just because it is an exhibition game, the play of the field does not change. For example, in the NBA’s ASG, there is little to no defense played. There is an open lane almost every time when either squad comes down the court. While alley oops and monster dunks are cool, when it occurs every possession, it can get old very quickly. In baseball, the matchups do not change. When Clayton Kershaw comes to the mound and faces Adam Jones, do you think he is going to toss a 75 mph meatball for Adam Jones to crank towards the fences? Not a chance. He is going to bring it just like he would during a regular start for the Dodgers.

I mention those All-Stars facing each other as just one example of a potential matchup that makes for a great watch. How about the 23 year old phenom Steven Strasburg going head to head with legend Derek Jeter who is 15 years his senior? How cool would it be to see RA Dickey, the arguable front runner for NL Cy Young, tossing his knuckleball and trying to fool slugger Josh Hamilton? And 2012 will be the last All Star Appearance for eight time all star and surefire Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, who is retiring after this season. It will certainly be weird without him in Atlanta next season that is for sure.

Back in February of this year, I explained to Mike Huber on XTSR Towson Radio why I believed that the second calendar month was the worst sports month of the year. The football season was over. Pitchers and catchers report in the middle of the month, but baseball was still months away from beginning. Basketball, both college and professional, was still in their respective regular seasons. Same applies to hockey.  Not to mention on the East Coast, February is typically a cold, dark month (but after this torturous heat wave, I sure would not mind a 35 degree day.) Now we approach arguably the worst sports week, not entire month, of the year. I hope my words give you something to look forward to when it’s quitting time on Tuesday.

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Major League Baseball is the First Sport to Make the All-Star Game Exciting

Posted on 07 July 2012 by andrewtomlinson

Since the 2006 Collective Bargaining Agreement, baseball has made their All-Star Game not only exciting, but actually important, as it determines home field advantage for the World Series, and the game is now something baseball fans cannot miss.

Most All-Star Games are nothing more than a glorified time-waster in the middle of their sport’s seasons. The only notable event at most All-Star Games are the skills competitions. Contest like the one before the NHL All-Star Game, the NBA Skills Competition and Dunk Contest and the Home Run Derby for baseball. Now though, the Derby has become the boring thing for baseball as the last few All-Star games have been great games.

Since making the outcome of the game matter, only one game has been decided by more than two runs, last year when the National League won 5-1. Of the five games played under the “it counts” format, three of them have been one-run affairs. Before that, only four had been decided by one run, including a tie in 2002, since 1990. It may not be definitive proof that the new format guarantees closer games, as there is such a small sample size, but it does seem to change the way the managers play the game.

There is no better example of how the game has become more exciting than in 2008. It was the final All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium and oh, boy was it a good one.  After 14-innings the game still was not decided and both leagues were down to their final pitchers with both managers concerned about what would happen if no one scored in the next few innings. If you turned the game off at some point, then you were a fool, as the AL had a shot at winning it after getting Carlos Guillen to third with one out in the 12-innings. Yet, as you should expect in an All-Star Game, outstanding pitching from Aaron Cook ended the threat. Of course, this all came just a half inning after Joakim Soria and George Sherrill worked out of a bases loaded jam the NL had manufactured in the 12th inning. So, to say the game was just bad offense was not the case at all.

The game ultimately ended 4-3 on a walk-off, but featured three total lead changes, including the final one to end the game, outstanding pitching and just overall good baseball. 4-3 is a perfect score for an All-Star game too, as it shows both teams actually played the game the right way and didn’t just give up runs carelessly. Obviously it is easier in a non-contact sport like baseball, but it is still sort of sickening to see the NHL All-Star Game end 12-9 or the NBA All-Star Game end 152-149.

Games rarely end with those scores in their respective sports, so really what is the point of playing if you aren’t going to do it the right way?

Looking towards next Tuesday, we have a whale of an MLB All-Star game coming up. The National League is currently on a two-game winning streak and look at that, the NL has won the last two World Series too. Maybe it is just a coincidence, as the NL has won three of them since the new format was introduced, despite only winning two All-Star Games, but the fact the NL is 2-for-2 in World Series in years they win the All-Star Game can’t be overlooked. After losing the last two games as well, you have to imagine the AL is chomping at the bit to get back to their dominance.

If you’ve never watched the baseball All-Star game, try to watch this one, if only for three innings. The way these players play in it, now that it is important, it will be hard not to get hooked.

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