Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's all Bud Black's Fault

The poor San Diego Padres have played 9 extra inning games, of which 5 have gone 13 innings or longer. So you just knew, since Bud Black was on the bench for this one, it was going to be a long one, didn't you?

Although after watching Dan Uggla boot back-to-back grounders in the 10th inning, I thought the game was going to end right there. Sometimes dreams (Josh Hamilton hitting in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium, which has been well chronicled elsewhere) come true; sometimes, they turn into nightmares. Joe Buck related how Dan and his dad had dreamed of playing in Yankee Stadium. Running onto the field was probably a great thrill for Uggla; 3 errors, 0-3 with 2 K's and a GIDP probably wasn't. On the silver lining side, he's in the record book forever; will anyone else ever be given the chance to make 3 errors in an All-Star Game?

I didn't really start watching the game until the seventh (which means I didn't miss anything). I saw AP strike out in the first, and Holliday's HR in the fifth. Watched pretty much the rest of it, though. Some thoughts/impressions:

- Is it just me, or do the league's ERA leaders always give up runs in the All-Star Game? Happened again last night to both Justin Duchscherer and Edison Volquez. I hope the rest of the NL was paying attention to how the AL attacked Volquez- don't swing at the change up which is low and bends out of the strike zone, and sit on his fastball. Morneau did it and lined a single up the middle. Drew did it and lined a HR to right. Both times they were ahead in the count and sat on a fastball.

- Miguel Tejada was the MVP of this game, in my opinion, hands down. No one played harder.

- George Sherrill's 3 pitch K of Adrian Gonzalez in the 12th was impressive. Think the Mariners rue that Eric Bedard trade?

- Albert Pujols shouldn't have been the starting DH - Adrian Gonzalez should have been. That's not a knock on Albert. He's having his standard HOF year. But Gonzalez has been really, REALLY good this season, and deserved to start. I was hoping Gonzo would line a pitch into the gap somewhere in that 12th inning AB to win the game; you figure with all the extra inning affairs he's been involved in this season, he was the perfect choice to hit in that spot. Sherrill was better. That's the way it goes.

- Funny how the one pitcher (Webb, Kazmir) each side tried not to use played for a division rival of the team managers. You think that added additional consternation to their thinking as this game dragged into the 15th inning?

- Did Brad Lidge just not have his usual filthy stuff, or was he exhausted after warming up 5 times prior to entering the game in the 15th inning?

- Aaron Cook should look into a second career as a magician. I'm still not sure how he pitched his way out of the 1oth. That was really impressive.

- You're short on pitching, you just survived the Aaron Cook High Wire Act, and Marmol only throws one inning? YGBSM.

- Let's talk outfield defense for a moment. Don't they teach these guys the fundamentals anymore? I can't believe Carlos Quentin, when fielding Gonzalez' fly ball to left in the eighth inning, didn't get behind the ball, catch it coming forward, and then throw it to the plate. He may not have gotten Tejada anyway, but poor, poor form for an All-Star. Corey Hart's throw in the 15th? His approach was good, but his throw wasn't. You're playing RF. It's 314 feet down the line in Yankee Stadium, so that throw was what, 250 feet? And it bounced twice? Wow.

- For as bad as those two defensive plays were, the NL defense in the 10th (after Uggla's errors) was fantastic. And Gonzo's pick of Russell Martin's throw down with one out was a game-saver. Martin's back foot slipped as he released the ball. If Adrian doesn't field that, it's in right field and the game is over.

- I don't see what the big deal was about the pitching situation. Each side had 9 guys in their lineups; if you run out of pitching (and that seems likely, based on who would have started the top of the 16th), just use a position player! The AL had Carlos Guillen as their DH - he can play 1B, SS, 3B, LF, and RF. There's 6 more innings. David Wright plays 3B, and could probably take a turn in the OF and at short. Start looking for volunteers.

- Maybe MLB should show some more foresight when selecting the roster. Guys who pitch on the Sunday before the All-Star Game should not be included on the roster as an active player. You can't tell me it was a surprise to Francona and Hurdle that Webb, Kazmir, and Lincecum all pitched on Sunday and therefore would have been available for extremely limited duty Tuesday. Look ahead a little bit and select another pitcher (or pitchers) to fill those slots who can actually pitch. There were other worthy guys (Lose, Mussina, Jurrjens, for example) out there. Again, I'm not advocating that guys in Webb's/Kazmir's/Lincecum's position should be left off the roster; those 3 CLEARLY deserved to be All-Stars. But more roster flexibility would be nice.

I miss the old days. Is the NL EVER going to win this game again?

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