Dodgers in the All-Star Game, 7/10/07
Well, my aunt warned me that the All-Star games aren’t the most exciting to watch, and she was right. Nevertheless, I did travel to the House Of Baseball Tradition (aka my grandpa’s house) so we could watch the game together.
Before I get to the game, let me say that the night before, I caught the Home Run Derby and enjoyed it more than I’d thought I would. The contestants had a suitably devil-may-care attitude, and everyone in AT&T Park appeared to have benefited from the influence of a few adult beverages, from the spectators to the crazed teammates to the oddball mentally handicapped guy who was handing out face wipings and hugs to everyone who got up to bat. Just about every player scheduled to take part in the All-Star game was camped out in a Barcalounger on the field, usually with two or three small children in tow. It was interesting to see so many players, including the usually deadpan Dodgers, caught in moments of frivolity.
I found myself pulling for Vladimir Guerrero in the HR Derby, because even though he’s an Angel, he’s a Southern California homeboy and therefore rootworthy. Well, a Southern California homeboy by way of the Dominican Republic. After he received that bat from Big Papi (doing his best Don Corleone imitation), there was no stopping the man with the dirtiest batting helmet in baseball.
So, on to the All-Star Game. This being the first one I’d watched, I was unaware that there would be an hour’s pomp and circumstance before any balls got pitched. We had to get through Willie Mays and various and sundry other touching moments before we got to the lineups, When the Dodger men were introduced, great joy reigned in the House of Baseball Heritage. I felt somewhat akin to a proud parent who spots her children onstage during a dull school ceremony. "Look! There’s Brad!" I hollered. "He’s smiling," my aunt said in shocked amazement.
The game finally got underway and the National League players did not disappoint. It felt a bit strange to be cheering for the starter, Peavy, who I’d just seen triumph over the Dodgers the week before at Dodger Stadium, but I quickly adapted. Brad Penny and Saito acquitted themselves well, although the dimwitted hosts called him Takashi Sayito (rhymed with Dorito–guess they’ve had too many seasons of trying to pronounce Puerto Rican and Dominican names). Tragically, Russell Martin had a less than stellar first All-Star game. Every time he got up to bat, the boos of the boorish Giants fans in the stadium were drowned by the enouraging cries of fans all over the Southland, but it did no good. When he struck out, the hearts of fans all over Los Angeles broke a little along with his bat, knowing how disappointed he’d be. It’s amazing how much everyone, even cynics like myself, love this guy. He’s everyone’s son-who-made-good, even when he cusses and spits. No one wants to see his spirit broken. As long as he never gets caught with a dead girl or a live boy, he’s got it made in this town.
We were lucky they let him go as long as they did. I guess even the powers-that-be wanted to see him be the MVP, but it wasn’t in the cards this year. Around the sixth inning they took him out and faith and begorrah, it was you-know-who from the Atlanta Braves. Must I really look at a leprechaun for the next three innings? Aye.
Things weren’t looking good for the National team for most of the last half, but suddenly in the 9th, the players rallied and it almost looked like we could break the American League’s 9 game winning streak. But it was not to be. The AL won, and Ichiro Suzuki got MVP for the inside-the-park home run. I fail to grasp the magic of Ichiro Suzuki, fabulous though he may be. Most baseball players look like they have to buy their uniforms off the Big N’ Husky rack; so far he’s the only one I’ve seen that has to shop the boys’ department. Call me shallow. Go ahead. Everyone else does.
Now for the second half….