Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Long, Dark Night in the Man Cave

The Common Man tried to hang in an do a live-blog of the All Star Game last night, but hung up his spikes after nine innings, and just enjoyed the rest of the game. Instead of doing a blow-by-blow, he'll instead hit the highlights from 6 hours of baseball-watching. Some are time-stamped (CST). Also, it should be noted that Shysterball stole a bunch of The Common Man's good jokes in his write-up of the game. But since The Common Man blatantly stole the idea of a running diary from Bill Simmons, he has no right to complain.

First, of all, The Common Man loves the All Star Game. Prominent baseball writers (Keith Law, Shysterball, Fire Joe Morgan) on the interwebs have taken the time in the last few days to remind him that it's an exhibition, that (even though "this time it counts") it has no real meaning, and that it's an over-hyped three-hour commercial for baseball and Fox. Frankly, The Common Man doesn't care. This probably goes back to The Common Man's childhood, when Kirby Puckett won the game's MVP in 1993 after hitting a homer and a double, or 1988 when five Twins made the team.

But the spectacle of it all was always fun for The Common Man. That collection of talent all being introduced at once. It's impossible not to appreciate it, when ARod is standing next to David Ortiz, who is standing next to Roy Halladay. That's amazing stuff. Plus, every so often, baseball collects its history and puts it on display, carting out the greatest living players to celebrate their abilities and legacies. It began with the wild success of 1999's pre-game where the top 100 players of the 20th century were introduced, which culminated in a massive group hug in the center of the diamond as every player on the field tried to get to Ted Williams at the same time.

This time, a massive collection of living Hall of Famers attended the event, including giants of the past, Willie Mays and Henry Aaron. Both are paragons of manhood, brave and talented, generous and inspiring leaders. They should live on forever. Quick, the Carbonite!

Bob Gibson is 74 years old and 1500 miles away, and The Common Man is still a little intimidated. He shifted over in his seat to make sure he wasn't too close to the plate. He doesn't want to take one in the ear. Meanwhile, the world is turned on its ear when Goose Gossage gets a bigger ovation than The Chairman of the Board, Whitey Ford.

Joe Buck calls this "the greatest collection of stars ever assembled on one field. The Common Man doesn't mean to quibble, but he thinks that the 1999 assemblage was better. C'mon, Ted Williams was there.

7:30 Oh no, Cheryl Crow has a guitar. Someone stop her before she honors America! Quick, someone find Tony Bennett. Or Paul Simon. Or 50 Cent. Anybody? Can anybody from New York sing a little bit?

7:34 Reggie, let Yogi walk as close to the plate as he wants. Oh! He got it there on the fly! Is it dusty in here? No? Anyone? Windy

The game starts at 7:45. That's just nuts. 45 minutes of intro???

Tim McCarver is ridiculous. He points out that the Indians got Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Lee Stevens, for Bartolo Colon. And "all four payed dividends, but perhaps none more than Cliff Lee this year," says Tim McCarver. Ha. Grady Sizemore, his 23 HR, his .273/.374/.539 batting line, and four consistently excellent seasons of production beg to differ, sir.

In the second, Madonna’s boyfriend steps to the plate. Seriously, who cares? Why is this man a story when the economy is in shambles (thanks for reminding everyone, John McCain), the country is fighting two wars, and taking Flomax may result in a reduction of semen (sorry, commercial)? Pops up to the catcher.

8:06 Budweiser has a new commercial: “As long as there’s been the Great American Pastime, there’s been the great American lager,” which has just been sold to Belgium. Do you think they’ll downsize the Clydesdales?

8:12 Let’s see how well Tim McCarver dances around the Milton Bradley getting injured last year without mentioning that Bradley was baited by the umpire with racially dicey comments.... Waiting.... Well, that was awkward.

8:20 If you think The Common Man isn’t going use the word “Dewmocracy” as much as possible, you don’t know The Common Man. Thank you Mountain Dew

8:23 Since The Common Man’s grandfathers have passed away, The Common Man has decided to nominate surrogate grandfathers to be the Official Grandfather of The Common Man. The first nominee is Yogi Berra. He reminds him of his Uncle Wayne, who also passed away in the past year. Funny guy, lots of stories. Though Yogi seems a little confused at this point. Other thoughts?

8:32 Derek Jeter grounds into a double play in the 3rd. But he did so clutch-ly.

8:34 Josh Hamilton’s quick at bats are not giving Joe Buck the time to fawn on and on about his unique and heart-warming story that The Common Man is, frankly, getting a little tired of. The boys at FJM said it best, of course, "it's better to do heroin and then stop doing heroin and then lose the Home Run Derby after an impressive first round than it is to not do heroin and then keep not doing heroin and then win the Home Run Derby after a pedestrian first round." But, you know, good on you Josh Hamilton. The Common Man wishes you only the best.

8:39 Ichiro Suzuki makes a terrific play, playing a carom off the right field wall perfectly, and firing a strike to 2nd base to nail Albert Pujols, who was trying to stretch a single. Pujols was actually safe, but it was close and Ichiro’s incredible defensive skills were clearly on display there. He’s perhaps the best defensive outfielder in baseball, so why are the Mariners playing him in RF? What kind of pictures does Willie Bloomquist have of Seattle's owner and how compromising are they?

8:46 Tim McCarver starts arguing with statistics that are placed on the screen. There’s no way he’s hitting .167 on pitches down and in.

8:52 Ervin Santana starts out with a 97 MPH fastball, 95 MPH fastball, 85 MPH breaking ball, to Matt Holliday, who looked overmatched at first, but fights back and lines a 97 MPH fastball over RF. Man, a good major league hitter can destroy a fastball, no matter how hard it’s thrown, if he knows what’s coming. Call it the Billy Koch effect.

9:06 John Hiatt does a great job of drowning out Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

9:14 A bevy of changes for the AL to start out the 6th. The best thing about Canada, Home Run Derby champ Justin Morneau, is now playing 1B.

9:29 The Common Man pops opens his 3rd Berryweiss of the game. It’s not like they’re going to drink themselves, and The Common Man is not going to pawn them off on his friends. That would be wrong.

9:32 The Uncommon Wife wants the AL to win because “the pitcher [Justin Duchscherer] has a cute butt.” Also, “If you play baseball, you should not be allowed to scratch your nutsack, no matter how sweaty it is.” By the way, The Uncommon Wife has descended into the Man Cave after getting tired of watching Tori Spelling’s and Denise Richards’s reality shows upstairs

9:37 The Uncommon Wife “does not, does not want the National League to win because that pitcher [Dan Haren] needs to cut his hair. That Grady Sizemore looks so respectable.”

9:43 What the hell? Why do all sports interviews start with “how did it feel to…?” Or "How special was it to...?" That’s the stupidest way to ask a question ever. Please quantify for me what is entirely unquantifiable. Here's a sliding scale. If 10 is the most special, aka the birth of a child or winning the lottery, and 1 is you stepped in gum on the way in the ballpark, where does this fall? What the hell is the guy supposed to say. How did it feel to hit that home run? Eh, it was ok. Not very special at all really. Argh.

9:46 The Uncommon Wife: Who’s that guy for Pittsburgh? Is that Rathskeller? Rosenthaller? What was his name?
The Common Man: You mean Rothlesburger?
UW: Yeah, where’s he?
CM: Probably playing football somewhere, I guess.
UW: Can’t they cross over?
Has The Uncommon Wife been getting into the Berryweiss? Perhaps an investigation is in order.

9:45 Leave me alone, woman. I’m blogging.

9:50 Alfonso Soriano picks his nose on national TV. Was it his good hand? Is his mother proud? Will he ever be asked to sign an autograph again?

9:53 J.D. Drew hits a no-doubter to RF to tie the game for the AL. Just a lazor. All tied up going into the 8th.

10:03 That’s right, Joe Buck, Miguel Tejada was rejuvenated after his trade to Houston. To the tune of .275 .316 .423 in a park that’s beneficial to right-handed power hitters. Nice analysis.

10:19 Evan Longoria makes the NL regret allowing Sizemore to steal second, as the rookie laces a ground rule double down the LF line. What a stud. Longoria, of course, was the consensus #1 prospect in the country before the season began. Prospect analysis has come so far in recent years. Of Baseball Prospectus’s Top 100 prospect list coming into this season, only Homer Bailey can honestly be called a disappointment.

10:27 Huge ovation for the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, as he comes in. Exit light, enter ni-ight!

10:33 Wow, a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play for Mariano Rivera ends the 9th. Now the AL gets last ups.

10:44 We go into extras tied. Bonus baseball! !! Ryan Dempster, of all people, struck out the side in the 9th to get us here. If you had that happening in your all star pool, you were drunk at the time you placed the bet.

OK, so in the interest of full disclosure, this is about where The Common Man stopped making copious notes. It was getting late. The Uncommon Wife had fallen asleep on the sofa. He was chatting with a friend about the game. But a couple of final notes.

Dan Uggla looked bad. Really really bad in this game. Like he didn't belong there. 0-4 with 3 Ks, six left on base, and 3 errors. Just an abysmal performance. Which is a shame, because Uggla really should have been the starter. He's been better than Chase Utley this year and the All Star Game would have been the perfect time to show off his skills and gain some national recognition for a guy that nobody wanted 3 years ago except the Marlins.

News out of New York is that Jonathan Papelbon's pregnant wife was threatened and pelted with insults while riding in a parade yesterday, because of a controversy manufactured by feckless and irresponsible "journalists" at the New York Daily News. You stay classy, Yankee fans. You too, print media. What were you saying about sensationalist and classless bloggers?

Finally, congratulations to the American League, as Justin Morneau (yay, Canada!) slides home on a Michael Young sac fly in the bottom of the 15th. Fun, long game. Now, to bed!
G'night folks!

Postscript: Bill's question in the comments section of the previous post is a good one. The Common Man will reprint it in full and feel free to debate in the comments:

Given that managers are never going to give up the idea of trying to get everybody in the game (because we've gotten to the point where lots of players wouldn't show if they didn't think they'd get to play), should they be permitted to reinsert players (as though the game started over, with the lineup at that time as the starters) in the event the game goes beyond the 9th inning?

Bill's answer is yes, but The Common Man is not convinced. The problem last night was with the scant supply of pitching on the AL side, not position players. And you shouldn't want to remove a pitcher from the game, then reinsert him later after he's cooled down. That sounds like a recipe for arm injury.


BillP said...

Well, the manager would have to use discretion. For instance, Roy Halladay threw 9 pitches last night (which showed a lack of managerial discretion in itself). You can't tell me he couldn't go out 90 minutes or so later and go another 2 or 3 innings. On the other hand, you'd probably treat, say, Papelbon a little differently.

The best solution is for managers to hold guys back, guys whose feelings won't get hurt by it. Hold the third shortstop back to pinch run in a key spot, keep a starting pitcher (preferably on the manager's own team) who hasn't gone in four or five days to do the 10th-13th or so if need be.
But they won't do that, so I think letting them erase their prior mistakes is the next best thing. Also, it's primarily a showcase of "baseball's best," and I'm sure if the manager knew it was going to go 15 innings ahead of time he'd much rather play A-Rod for 9 innings and Crede for 6 than the other way around. If it gets to the 10th and suddenly A-Rod, Pujols, and Manny are back in the game? Fun stuff.

The Common Man said...

For instance, Roy Halladay threw 9 pitches last night (which showed a lack of managerial discretion in itself). You can't tell me he couldn't go out 90 minutes or so later and go another 2 or 3 innings.

You're right, The Common Man can't tell you that, but neither of you nor he are qualified to determine whether that constitutes a risk to the pitcher's long-term health (depending, of course, on the pitcher and the situation). It's a good question for Will Carroll.

The Uncommon Wife said...

It seems to me that in these last several posts, The Uncommon Wife is coming across like a bit of a drinker. Let it be known for the record that The Uncommon Wife limits herself to 2 (or 3) glasses of wine with dinner.