I watched the 2009 Major League Baseball All Star Game last night. It was awesome. There are a thousand reasons someone could have agreed with me, from the new, vastly improved Busch Stadium, which has some of the more breathtaking views of downtown as any stadium could offer, to the Albert Pujols Show, to getting (or having, if you're a true baseball fan) to listen to President Obama talk over the bottom of the second inning of the game, an inning where the National League scored their only three runs. How much would that suck for you, you make it to the game, you're playing, and you get a hit, and there's no reference to your hit, at all, in the television broadcast? Maybe I'm a glory hog, but...come on! Give the players their moment, as well. But all things considered, if I had to come up with a reason I really enjoyed the game is because it was actually a baseball game...baseball has figured out that placing some real meaning on the game by making the winning team of the game the league that gets the right to home field advantage, the right to have Game 7 in your home ball park. This means the managers, who were in the World Series the previous season, have added incentive to win the game...this being said, the American League won, again. They haven't lost an All Star Game since 1996. A list of things going on in 1996...
1. Derek Jeter wins Rookie of the Year
2. Milwaukee Brewers still in the American League
3. The Mariners have Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro is still balling in Japan.
4. I was still debating.
...the game having meaning makes it a much better watch than most of the other All Star exhibitions. The game starts off with the American League scoring two runs in the first inning when starter Tim Lincecum generates a typical 3-6-1 double play when Albert Pujols (pronounced poo-holes, which means he's got to be the truth for nobody to make the thousands of shit jokes) boots it, which opens the door for the first two runs...the best example of this competitive framing of the game comes in the top of the 8th inning, when Detroit Tiger Curtis Granderson drives a ball over the head of baseball's newest 5 tool player, Justin Upton, and legs out one of baseballs most exciting hit, the three bagger of the San Diego Padre closer, Heath Bell (who apparently Charlie Manuel had faith in, but somehow had played his entire career and never made an all-star team of any kind, not American Legion, not Little League, not the minors. He currently leads the league in saves for a team that's numerous games under .500, which means he's not saving any games of value. Why would you assume he'd thrive in the biggest situation of his life- the 8th inning of the All-Star Game? I wouldn't have, but that's probably why I'm miserable at Fantasty Baseball, much less the real game)...but anyway, with a man on 3rd and one out, a situation that would normally involve bringing the infield in, which increases a batters average by over 100 points. Rather than do that, they intentionally walked a batter, to create a possible force play, and create a double play possibility, which would have gotten them out of the inning without sacrificing any runs. The strategy failed, as the next batter flied out deep to right, allowing Granderson to score the go-ahead (and winning) run. The strategy didn't work (Adam Jones deep fly out to right field allows Granderson to tag up and score on the sacrifice fly) but the fact they even used strategy made it seem like it was just a baseball game with really good players, rather than an exhibition game of a bunch of primadonnas. and since the All-Star game is the only thing in town when it's on (really, how'd you get that lock down- no other major sports yesterday), it should at least be entertaining and strategic, you know, like baseball.