Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Slap Hitter: All Stars save Baseball!

Wed, Jul 16, 2008 at 2:30 PM

Love baseball. Love history. Especially love baseball history. But last night's All Star game at Yankee Stadium should be celebrated because Today trumped the Past in a huge upset. Consider the first half hour of All-Star "festivities" drenched, as always, in the effluvium of golden days ("Look it's Yogi Berra", "Hey it's Willie Mays", makes makes me hope somebody like the Devil Rays get to host an All-Star game and are coerced into trotting out one of the their ahem, legends--"Hey is that really Bubba Trammell?"). Considering it was the Last Night at Yankee Stadium and that the treacly tunes were cranked up so loud the old-timers could hear it, what a stunna that the Game whipped Nostalgia in 15 innings.



The good ol' days are great in their place, but their place does not need to be every half inning. I tuned in late, eighth inning, and then didn't move for the next two hours, except for troubling Burger King ads. Riveting stuff. It was baseball with an hourglass. Consider that both teams were running out of pitchers, exhausting their reserve supply and that they were going to have to I don't know, think of something; that wasn't troubling or a sign of modern fusiness or an indict against the managers or fans who voted the players in, it was awesome! The All-Star game became a race against the finite. I was rooting for more innings. I wanted to see what would happen if both teams ran out of hurlers. An infielder would have come in to pitch, a pitcher would have to play left. Why are the announcers and powers that be so protective of the game (will it break? is it so easy to mortify?) that they would wail about it as a travesty if such an event came to pass?

We can take baseball safely out of its protective wrapper, we can enjoy a great game and absurdity too. I love that once Dan Uggla started making errors that every single damn ground ball that mattered was going to get hit to him, and that they couldn't take him out of the game. And if they had, the ball would have rolled into the dugout or locker room or his Manhattan hotel and found him. I loved Rockie manager Hurdle pushing his own pitcher to go long into the night, and the words of Red Sock manager Francona, who said that Baltimore reliever Sherrill was not willing to come out of the game even though he had gone way past his limit. I love seeing Jeter of the Yanks on the top step of the dugout even though he had been out of the contest for eight innings, and I loved the heroic moments created not last century but last night! Martin of the Dodgers blocking the plate, Guzman of Washington forced to play third for the first time ever and picking it, baby. Tejada! Cook of Colorado (should have been MVP) doing Houdini getting out of three-on-none-out like a champ. McLouth's throw, Marmol's strikeout pitch, even Mourneau's last slide. Great, great stuff.

And how about the Yankee fans doing their obnoxious thing 2008 style. It's real, it's not Dimaggio, it's not Mantle, it's not fathers playing catch with sons, it was all out there in HD or TiVo or the internet. And it worked. Conflicted about Red Sox playing for their team, razzing Pablebon to distraction and in my favorite New York moment seeing two pudgy boys sprawled on top of the National League's dugout taunting the team for another extra inning choke job. Not for New York's youngest, a Hey Mister Would you sign my ball? But a Bronx cheer on a night that deserved a handful of those and dozens of regular ones.

Play ball all night and into the day All-Stars. Fuckin' A!— Kibby Kleiman

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