It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.
It’s that time of year again, the MLB All-Star game is upon us! Last night was the Home Run Derby and, despite being in his team’s stadium, Albert Pujols did not quite manage to make it to the third round. Instead the final competition was between Prince Fielder, of the Milwaukee Brewers, and Nelson Cruz, of the Texas Rangers. In the end, Fielder took it and even bashed in a homer over 500 feet.
So begins the liveblogging event of the year! I’ll be making updates through the evening and night.
I’m really loving the MLB Network coverage of the All-Star game. The network is in its first year and it shows in their broadcast. There are some boom microphone errors and sound issues at times, even a video error or two, but they are enthusiastic about their presentation and having so much fun that it’s just too fun to watch. I hope that the channel sticks around for the long run.
There have already been some great commercials. Pepsi has one of those “Forever Young” commercials with baseball that I’m a fan of and State Farm has a great commercial featuring MLB gear. My favorite part there is when the Cubs baby is being friendly with the Cardinals baby and the parent of the Cardinals baby turns their kid away.
Get the Braves dog! Chase him away!
A lot is being made of St. Louis being the greatest baseball city because the fans are so knowledgeable. I think this is great, but St. Louis felt so abandoned the last time I was there. They have such a rich NL history, between their World Series wins, the legacy of Branch Rickey, Bob Gibson, and, more recently, Albert Pujols.
I hope the game starts soon so I don’t have to keep waxing poetic. Obama’s gonna throw the opening pitch!
They’re showing footage of Obama in the locker room. So cool. He’s just shooting the breeze with these players and some are pretty awestruck. The expression on Ichiro’s face as he has Obama autograph a baseball for him is great.
Introducing the teams now (minus the starting 9 for both teams).
Tony La Russa
Ted Lily (boos? I thought these guys were nice)
AL Manager and starting lineup:
Joe Maddon (Manager, Rays)
1. Ichiro Suzuki (RF, Mariners)
2. Derek Jeter (SS, Yankees)
3. Joe Mauer (C, Twins)
4. Mark Teixiera (1B, Yankees)
5. Jason Bay (LF, Red Sox)
6. Josh Hamilton (CF, Rangers)
7. Michael Young (3B, Rangers) – should have been Longoria =*[
8. Aaron Hill (2B, Blue Jays)
9. Roy Halladay (P, Blue Jays)
NL Manager and starting lineup:
Charlie Manuel (Manager, Phillies)
1. Hanley Ramirez (SS, Marlins) – GO HANLEY!
2. Chase Utley (2B, Phillies)
3. Albert Pujols (1B, Cardinals) – huge cheers, gigantic Pujols smiles, hat comes off like a curtain call
4. Ryan Braun (RF, Brewers)
5. Raul Ibañez (LF, Phillies)
6. David Wright (3B, Mets)
7. Shane Victorino (CF, Phillies)
8. Yadier Molina (C, Cardinals) – big applause
9.Tim Lincecum (P, Giants) – I love this guy!
They went and mowed the arch and a famous St. Louis building into the lawn. It looks very nice.
5 presidents giving a speech.
Obama, Bush, Bush, Carter, and Clinton.
These speeches are pretty standard political and feel good stuff. Not too bad, nothing too special.
Sheryl Crow sings the anthem. She’s from Missouri. She does a good job! There’s a flyover, as you’d expect.
Stan Musial and Obama are due out next. Pujols is due to catch the first pitch.
Thanks for spoiling the end of the House season FOX. Why are you advertising for September in July?
Stan the Man comes in from RF on a cart carrying the baseball for the first pitch.
88-years-old. Man, we’re lucky this guy is still alive.
It looks like the players are all wearing their team’s actual uniforms. I like that. It shows where they’re from compared to just a league shirt.
Obama comes onto the field in a White Sox jacket to mixed reaction. There are definitely boos mixed in there.
Doesn’t matter, he throws a great strike to the plate, maybe a little low. After the pitch the cheers FAR outweigh the boos.
Some of you readers don’t ever watch commercials anymore, but I, strangely, kind of like them. I inexplicably love the rollover minute AT&T commercials.
Top of the 1st – 2047
The NL takes the field! Lincecum’s last outing in Busch Stadium was a shutout. Wow, Lincecum only weighs like 167 lbs.
Busch Stadium has some cool little Cardinal friezes on the trim. Obama likes Maddon’s glasses. He asked Wakefield how to throw a knuckleball and, when asked if he had a good curveball, he said “If I did, I wouldn’t have run for president.”
Ichiro almost hit a homer his first time up. Wow. Went foul. Lincecum has such a great rhythmic windup and delivery. It’s so cool to watch.
Broken bat single. What else would you expect from the great Ichiro?
Ouch. Lincecum just nailed Jeter on the bottom of his fist. That was a loud collision. He wasn’t very happy. Worse off, two on, no outs for the AL.
Joe Mauer grounds to third and they almost get a double play, but Pujols’ foot comes off the bag.
Teixiera hits to Pujols and he botches the catch. AL up 1-0
Bay hits one out to CF and Victorino holds Mauer at third.
Hamilton gets one to Pujols who throws Bay out at second, but they can’t make the DP. AL 2-0.
Young hits it to Wright who gets the third out.
2102 Bot 1st
Hanley’s leading off against Halladay, lucky for the NL. Ramirez and the Marlins have done quite well against the Blue Jays this year. He hits it hard to 2B, but Hill is right there. One out.
Utley up to bat. Grounds to first. A quick one-two, but Pujols approaches. Can he turn this around?
The park is on its feet with a standing ‘O’. He’s got a lot of ground to make up by making that error. Pujols is such a patient hitter. I love that about him. Ball goes right to third and Michael Young finishes off retiring the side.
AL: 2 NL: 0
Aaron Hill grounds to Hanley and he makes a great catch and out.
Halladay up to bat no. Should be an easy out, so work him hard Tim. Seems that Halladay didn’t even pack a helmet for the at bat. They put a sticker in front of Longoria’s Rays helmet so that he could have a helmet. What a moron. Of course you’re gonna hit Roy. It’s a game in an NL park. Timmy strikes Hallady out looking, but it was a solid at bat.
Ichiro is back up to bat. His at-bat motion is so iconic as e holds the bat out in front of him while the pitcher sets. Ichiro lines right out to Braun. Apparently Obama told Ichiro, after handing back the ball, “Here you go hall of famer.” That will be true, I’m sure of it.
2117 Bot 2nd
Braun steps up to the plate. Obama is now in the broadcast booth. Holy cow. “This is as much fun as I’ve had in quite some time.” Obama’s in a White Sox jacket. He says his wife thinks he looks cute in it. Braun takes it up to CF and Hamilton snags it.
Ibañez now up to bat. Shane hits one to Hill and it’s yet another out for the NL.
David Wright comes out to hit. Obama is reluctant to predict who will win the Series without more information. Wow, he just commented on how terrible the Nationals are. Wright gets a broken bat single to short right. NL finally gets a man on.
Wow, Victorino smacks one into right. Two on, two out. Victorino apparently gave Obama Macademia nuts at the white house.
Molina’s up to bat. Obama is agreeing that the AL has been better of late. Molina takes a base hit up to center. Wright runs it in, the throw to third is wild and Victorino is able to run into home from third on the botched throw. Way to go Molina. They’ve tied it up 2-2 and Molina gets some RBIs. Turns out the ball bounced off of Victorino’s shoulder. Halladay was covering home instead of third.
The NL pinch hits for Lincecum with Prince Fielder. Fielder bashes one into the LF corner and it bounces into the stands. Molina scores on the ground rule double and Fielder stays on second.
3-1 NL. Buerhle is warming up.
The Marlins send Hanley up to plate again. They’re joking that once Buerhle is done, Obama will leave. Hanley hits it back to Hill and gets tossed out at first.
Obama’s headed home. Good times. That was so great to see him just talking baseball like a regular guy.
Ryan Franklin goes out to pitch for the NL squad against Jeter. Hits a comebacker to Utley and gets tossed out at first.
The catcher, Mauer, steps back up to the plate. I’ve gotta say, I kind of wish Lincecum could have stayed in the game longer. Joe lines out to Pujols who makes a great catch.
Interview with Halladay about what it was like, but the microphone went out. Sad. Teixiera comes right back up to the plate. Franklin almost strikes Teix out, but he barely gets a piece and stays up to bat. Strong grounder to Pujols and he gets the out.
The Taco Bell “If You Like Piña Coladas” commercial is hilarious. I guess I just like Taco Bell Frutista Freeze commercials playing during all-star games. I love the boss with the exploding fist bump.
2135 Bot 3rd
Buehrle is on the mound now and Utley flies out to Hamilton.
Big Al comes back up to bat. He’s got two guaranteed at bats. Maybe third. Teixiera has good positioning to catch the Pujols grounder so Pujols grounds out.
Milwaukee’s basher Braun comes up to bat. Little grounder to Jeter and the NL is back out on the field. The score remains
NL 3 – AL 2
2141 Top 4th
The NL has swapped pitchers to Dan Haren. Apparently he was in the Cards system before he was traded and they regret that. Jason Bay hits one out to Ryan Braun for the first out.
I don’t really think that Josh Hamilton deserves to be in the game today, but he’s on thanks to the way he hit in last year’s Home Run Derby. Hard hit pop fly that’s shy of the warning track. Victorino catches for the second out.
Young angers me because he’s in for Longoria, even though Longoria can’t play. He hits a single and it upsets me.
Haren has such a strange delivery when he doesn’t have anyone on the bag with that hesitation pause. Aaron Hill at bat and Molina contains a wild pitch to hold Hamilton at first. Grounder to Ramirez and it’s half-inning over.
Bob Dylan and will.i.am are not on the same level, sorry Pepsi.
Ibañez pops out to third and Greinke’s on the mound.
That brings NY Met David Wright up to the plate with one out. Greinke has been fantastic this season and he proves it with a slider that just barely got called a strike on Wright who goes down looking.
Greinke’s a monster on the mound tonight. He gets Victorino to strike out swinging.
I’m pretty excited to see Funny People. Judd Apatow’s a comedic genius, but I wonder how his more serious offering here will do.
2155 Top 5th
Ryan Zimmerman takes over at third for the NL. Brad Hawpe takes RF for Braun. Crawford is up to bat for Greinke, I believe. He’s a speedy fellow. Takes a good pitch into CF and finds himself on first against Billingsley. Will Crawford try to steal?
The left-handed Ichiro will make a throw harder for Molina, but Mo is top notch. All Billingsley has to do is get it to the plate quickly to hold Crawford. Ichiro is also pretty fast, this is a bad situation. Crawford goes, hit-and-run, and Ichiro fouls it back, phew. Crawford’s got such great acceleration. Billingsley tries to catch Crawford sleeping at first, but fails. Utley makes a daring toss to 2nd to get Crawford out and his high toss is well handled by Hanley to get Carl out. The announcers don’t seem to be giving Hanley Ramirez his due. He really stretched to grab that.
Ichiro Suzuki on first. He’s also fast. Jeter at the bat. Quickly works an 0-2 count on Jeter. Billingsley is trying to keep the runners honest with plenty of tosses to first. The ball goes ripping at Pujols and he’s able to keep Ichiro off second, but Jeter’s too fast for the DP.
The hitless Joe Mauer comes up to bat. It’s been a good game so far. I’m loving the close score. Chad Billingsley falls behind Joe 2-0. Saw Jason Bay on the sidelines and, let me tell you, it sure is nice to not have Pedroia in the game with that stupid batting glove nonsense that he subjects everyone to each pitch. Braun kind of jobs to retrieve Mauer’s ball to LF and that allows Jeter to get into home from first base. I suppose it’s not really Ryan’s fault, Mauer’s a left-handed hitter and Ryan was positioned with that in mind.
Baltimore-native Mark Teixiera on base with Joe Mauer on second. Pujols makes yet another fantastic dive to throw out Teixiera for the third out.
NL 3 – AL 3
2209 Bot 5th
Carl Crawford remains in the game and Adam Jones pops in while Edwin Jackson comes up to pitch. Yadier Molina grounds out to Jeter.
Jackson’s success in Detroit is bittersweet for me. He’s doing so well out there that I can’t help but be happy for him, but I wish he were still pitching for the Rays. Ryan Zimmerman makes good contact, but he flies out to Hamilton in center.
Hanley is, thankfully, still in the game, but he grounds out to Michael Young, ending the inning.
I love that line in the Punch-Out Wii commercials, “I’m gonna make him cry like a little girl and then I’m gonna mop the floor with his tears.”
Remember when Gatorade wasn’t called G? Those were better days. Adam Jones is up against Trevor Hoffman and he sends one all the way out to Brad Hawpe in RF. It worried me for a second.
Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton gets himself a single to RF.
Lincecum could use a haircut, but his glorious mane probably gives him strength. Young could have used more strength as he hits into a 4-6-3 double play (that’s 2B Utley, to SS Ramirez, to 1B Pujols).
The Taco bell Roosevelts commercial is dumb, but I’m strangely drawn to it.
2219 Bot 6th
Jason Bartlett is mislabeled as Ben Zobrist at SS and Curtis Granderson is in CF while Victor Martinez is catching and King Felix Hernandez is pitching. The O-Dog, Orlando Hudson, flies out to Adam Jones in right.
The last Pujols at bat of the night. I’m hoping for some power from Albert, but grounds to Bartlett and the NL has two outs. I hope he doesn’t feel to badly, he’s had some great defensive plays.
An NL substitution in place with Justin Upton coming in for Ryan Braun. Upton is Rays player B.J. Upton’s younger brother. Another ball straight to Bartlett and Upton is the third out.
It’s been a great game so far. This tie has got my heart rate at a nice, high level. Go NL! You guys can do it! Pujols comes out for Adrian Gonzalez after a curtain call from his hometown. Francisco Cordero is up to pitch and Aaron Hill flies one to Justin Upton. It hasn’t been mentioned, but Jayston Werth seems to be in CF for Shane Victorino.
Crawford is back up again? Scary. Hits it straight to Miguel Tejada (when did he come in?) and gets thrown out.
Last year’s Derby winner Justin Morneau of the twins comes up to bat and he whiffs for two straight strikes. Line drive to Zimmerman ends the inning and we go into the 7th inning stretch while my keyboard gives me problems every time I try to push the ‘h’ key.
I guess it’s a good thing that they support the country with “God Bless America” now, but I miss “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The lady who’s singing GBA is way over fake tanned. She’s almost orange. Looks like Kevin Nealon in the most recent episode of Weeds. That’s not a good thing, they were making fun of him for it for a lot of the episode. Her name was Sarah Evans. Sarah, you did a great job, I’m not harping on that at all, just, you know, cut back on the fake tanning stuff.
2233 Bot 7th
Looks like Jonathan Papelbon won’t get to close again today. Brad Hawpe comes within inches of a home run, but Carl Crawford robs all chances with his amazing catch. So close.
The Houston Astros send in Miguel Tejada for the second NL batter of the inning. He hits one out to the warning track and the bubblegum chewing Adam Jones gets the ball.
Two exciting hits precede Jayson Werth’s at bat. He doesn’t take the first pitch, unlike the previous two batters. Werth’s goatee makes him look like an evil villain to me. Ugh, now I’m watching Jonatan Papelbon make his stupid lip-pursing ‘O’ that he does before each pitch. I hate that stupid look so much, but it’s just based on Red Sox resentment. Werth works up to a full count. Come on NL, score a run on Papelbon again. Make me happy. Jayson is really keeping this at-bat alive with plenty of foul balls and a full count on top of that. Swing and a miss and the NL goes down with no extra points thanks to Carl Crawford.
2242 Top 8th
Heath Bell of the Padres is now pitching for the NL. First pitch almost hits Bartlett in the head. Wow, that was wild. Bartlett taps one to Tejada who sets and throws Jason out at first.
Curtis Granderson gets up to bat now in the 8th. Bell has a really short, quick windup and throw. It’s awkard and hard to follow. Granderson makes it to third on a triple…great. Now he’s in position for a sac fly. It’s up to you Bell.
For some reason the NL decides to intentionally walk Victor Martinez. I guess it makes sense, setting up for the DP, but everyone on this club is a pretty darn good hitter.
This puts the speedy Adam Jones up to bat and the infield returns to double play depth. I’m feeling pretty tense about all of this, especially as the announcers claim that Heath Bell has never pitched in any all-star situations. He works the count to 0-2 on Jones. If the NL don’t get the DP, they’v egot Youkilis up next. Damned if you do…
Jones gets himself a sac fly and the score becomes 4-3 AL. Ugh.
Now we’ve got the Youkilis up to bat and things could turn ugly. Base hit to center. AL has men on first and second.
Ben Zobrist, the Zorilla, steps up to bat. He has homered from five different positions this season, according to the announcers. Pence strikes him out swinging. Hurts to see, but I’m happy for it.
AL 4 – NL 3
Brandon Inge is now in the game along with Joe Nathan. Brian McCann is at bat with his glasses. Poor guy had a Lasik procedure go terribly wrong and had to return to glasses. He pops up for an easy out to Victor Martinez.
That brings everyone’s favorite Ryan Zimmerman to the plate. Flies out to cross-town rival Adam Jones.
We’ve got power hitter Adrian Gonzalez at the plate now, hopefully to save the NL. It’s crazy how well this guy hits considering that the Padres play in a hitter hostile park. Nathan walks Gonzalez. Let’s make something happen now.
O-Dog time. Orlando Hudson up to bat. Grounder up the middle deflects off of Bartlett’s glove despite a terrific dive allowing Adrian Gonzalez to get to third.
This allows the NL to put Ryan Howard up to bat. A great pinch hitter for the Phillies, let’s see if he can make something great happen. The shift is put on for Howard. Will the St. Louis native be the key to the NL victory in this game? The stadium is going wild for Ryan. Howard quickly gets to 0-2. Orlando Hudson takes advantage of the up and away pitch to steal second. Two in scoring position now and the count gets up to 2-2. It is tense in my living room right now. Ryan Howard makes a stupid check swing at a ball in the dirt and the NL ruins a great chance. So close! We’ve still got one more inning, don’t worry!
2309 Top 9th
Man, I’m getting tired. Last year I made it much longer, but I wasn’t working then. K-Rod comes up to pitch against Inge who hits a broken bat grounder to Tejada for the 6-3 out.
Crawford remains in the game. I can’t be too mad at the guy for catching that out since he’s a Rays player, but I want the NL to win so badly. K-Rod strikes out Crawford. It was a fantastic pitch.
The AL squad sends Justin Morneau to the plate for their third man of the inning and he knocks one back that Jayson Werth barely catches. What a great play.
2315 Bot 9
It’s crunch time for the NL. We’re down to the final three outs and the scary-good Mariano Rivera is on the mound. Justin Upton grounds out to Bartlett. One down.
The second batter to step up is Brad Hawpe who was robbed a home run his last at bat. The AL dugout seems so cheery. It also seems overfull. Hawpe goes down looking on a pitch to the outside. Brad Hawpe looked lost. Two outs.
Our final hopes rest on Miguel Tejada’s bat. Tejada hits a shallow fly to Zobrist and the AL wins it 4-3.
The streak of losses continues.
It didn’t quite go as long as other years, but that dramatic robbery by Carl Crawford really changed this game.
Maybe next year NL. See you guys for another live blog next year!