Thursday, July 12, 2007

All-Star Wrap Up

The All-Star game on Tuesday was a spectacular event. I was struck by all the talent gathered together in one place. I have seats behind the visitor's bullpen (the American League for this game) and saw all the AL players. We saw each AL pitcher warm up, and there wasn't an inning where somebody wasn't warming up. A favorite moment of mine was seeing Ivan Rodriguez and Jorge Posada, two of baseball's best catchers, gather to watch Oakland's Dan Haren warm up before the game. They were discussing observation.

Willie Mays was honored in a graceful first pitch ceremony. He threw out the first pitch from center field, a fitting gesture to a great career. A really good game followed, with the level of play matching the level of talent. The home-town Giants fans never missed an opportunity to cheer for Barry Bonds, and likewise never missed an opportunity to passionately and lustily boo any announcement or performance of a player from their long time, bitter rival, the Dodgers.

The game had its share of bizarre moments, too. During the 7th inning stretch, an unknown to me pop singer named Paula Cole (Mrs. Scott is the entertainment buff in the family and never heard of her either) came out to sing "God Bless America." Technical difficulties - which were the norm rather than the exception at old Candlestick Park - prevented her from starting. The sarcastic San Franciscan crowd started singing it for her, as if urging her on from forgetting the words. Part way through I couldn't resist a sarcastic one-upish reaction of my own, and started singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame", the real 7th inning song, at the top of my lungs. The clashing melody drew quite a bit of attention, and a number of people joined me, creating a cacophony of confusion. Say what you will about San Francisco, but this is one thing I've always loved about Giants fans. They have the best sense of humor of any fans in baseball by a mile.

The singer then whined out a sappy, drawn out chick-music love song version (search for it here under the heading "more game highlights". The technical difficulties were edited out and you can hear the announcer at the end say the wait was well worth it. Huh?). Gag. It was horrible, and really took the fun out of the 7th inning stretch. I think baseball should do away with this song during the 7th inning stretch. We should make "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" our national anthem. Anyway...

Also bizarre was Tony LaRussa's brain freeze managerial non-move in not pinch-hitting Albert Pujols in the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded and the game on the line. Whassup wit dat, Tony? The last hurrah was commish Bud Selig presenting Ichiro Suzuki with MVP honors. Selig is no fan favorite in SF with his waffling on the Bonds home run record issue. Selig's name wasn't announced as the one presenting the award. His voice simply started with "Ichiro Suzuki..." I'm guessing that was a political move designed to spare the commish the embarrassment of the loudest booing of the evening.

All in all, it was a night to remember, and I'll never forget it. I plan to be there in Fremont when the A's host the game in their new stadium.

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