Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Top Shelf Watches the All-Star Game

Here we go...


Let's get this out upfront. I'm a National League girl. I grew up cheering for the Pirates while living in Braves country. We got the Braves on TBS and the Cubs on WGN. Since those were the days before interleague play, I rarely saw an AL team play outside of the postseason. I hate the Yankees. I hate the Red Sox just a little less. I'm really tired of the American League winning even though yes, they are totally better. Go, National League, go!

Pretty cool how they're introducing the Hall of Famers by position and then bringing out tonight's starters. Dude, Wadge Boggs in the Yankees hat? So not right. I don't care if he and the Red Sox hate each other, I'll always see him in a Boston hat.

Over at Inside Pitch Mike Harrington talked about how cool it was to be able to talk to some of the Hall of Famers assembled here. If I had 40 minutes with these guys, I think I'd hit up Bill Mazeroski, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Schmidt, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Tony Gwynn, Hank Aaron, and Yogi Berra. Not sure in what order though.

Okay, I'll be honest, I was kind of dreading the long drawn-out intro but that was pretty nice. I'm sure the rest of the night will be so drenched in "Stars and Pinstripes Forever!" that I'll be ready to throw my laptop through the TV but for now, I'm okay.


Three up, three down for the NL. Even Lance, my little chunky monkey. Jeez, no wonder we never win.

Cue the Derek Jeter love fest. Joe Buck: "Jeter has done nothing but win since coming to the Majors." Tim McCarver: "When the Yankees last won the World Series in 2000..." I'm not sure he meant to point out that it's been 8 years since the Yankees won a championship but I'll take it.

When I see the previews for Tropic of Thunder I'm torn between my hatred for Ben Stiller and my love for Robert Downey, Jr. I think RDJ as a white actor playing a black guy is going to win out in the end. Oh, wait... Is the first inning over?


Our first base hit! Ugh, Chipper Jones. I hate that guy! Well, I guess I'll take it. When did he get to be 36, by the way? He and Derek Jeter are just baby-faced youngsters, right?

Matt Holliday bounces a dribbler down the first base line but Chipper goes to second. Runner in scoring position! Come on, Ryan Braun! Annnnd he strikes out.

A Budweiser commercial that splices together a lot of famous home runs over the years was just on and that little glimpse of a hobbled Kirk Gibson pumping his right arm as he rounds the bases after his home run in Game One of the 1988 World Series gives me chills. When I look back on my life as a sports fan, that moment is so vivid it's like I was just watching it last night.

As Manny Ramirez walks back to the dug-out after striking out, Buck says, "And Ramirez will be thinking about that at-bat." Somehow I doubt that. I'm not convinced that Manny thinks about his at-bats while they're actually happening which is fine with me. Since he's not on my time, I find him pretty amusing. I particularly appreciate how he can swing from looking like an entire comedy troupe to looking like a Gold Glover in left field over the course of two plays.

Man, what is with the stolen bases? I know it's an exhibition but maybe you guys could attempt to hold the runners a little closer to first base?

Fox has put a lot of stupid stuff on my TV screen over the years but one thing I do kind of like is the Hot Zone where they break the strike zone up into 9 sections and show the batter's average for each location. I can't reel off a ton of stats or anything but I do enjoy that baseball has a stat for just about everything. If I wanted to find Berkman's average from the left side against right handed pitchers in at-bats that take place after 9:34 p.m. under a three-quarter moon, I'm sure I could.


One of my favorite things about Yogi Berra is that he was (so I hear) such a good bad ball hitter. I was always kind of a sucker for high pitches so I feel like we're kindred spirits. I love hearing old baseball players tell their stories. As much as I've come to love hockey, if you told me I could sit down with a Hall of Fame hockey player or a Hall of Fame baseball player, I'm taking the baseball player. Those are the guys I was fascinated with as a kid, its their grainy footage and photos I pored over and I think there's something forever special about that childhood link.

Ha ha. Jeter hits into a double play. Man, I know I complain about this thing being too long but it's cranking along. Too bad it's REALLY BORING!


Very cool footage of Mariano Rivera showing Roy Halladay and Scott Kazmir how he throws his cutter. I love seeing stuff like that. But while we're looking at that footage let me say, what is the point of American/National League jerseys when they don't even wear them in the game? And thank god they don't because those gray NL hats are pretty awful.

Albert Pujols hits a long shot into the corner of right field but gets nailed trying to stretch it into a double. I think he was actually safe, but it was a perfect throw from Ichiro who McCarver just compared to Roberto Clemente. I don't know... That's hallowed ground where I come from. COME ON, NATIONAL LEAGUE! WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?

I've never heard of this movie The Perfect Game but I already adore the scene where the kid catches the pop fly, all his teammates pile on, and the ump comes out to say, "Coach, there's more than one out in a baseball game?" Totally cute. (The trailer on the website is much more dramatic than the TV spot.)

Ha ha. Alex Rodriguez - I hate the nickname A-Rod and refuse to use it - struck out.

Manny Ramirez's Hot Zone looks a lot like Mauer's - both are weaker low and on the inside corner but McCarver disagrees. "Manny is not hitting .160 low and in." Tim, it's a stat. You can't argue it. You can say that it doesn't really matter since he hits well pretty much everywhere else, but you can't say it isn't true.

Milton Bradley is picked off at first. I told you guys to hold the runners. Nice.


Matt Holliday puts the NL on top with a home run to right field! I believe Matt Holliday is Lee's boy so go, Matty!

I'm bored so here's Heather's Favorite Baseball Players, Childhood Edition

1. Andy Van Slyke
2. Jeff Bagwell
3. Mark Grace
4. Ryne Sandberg
5. Greg Maddux (but I wouldn't admit it until years later because he was a dirty, rotten Brave)

Honorable mention: Jay Bell, Mike LaValliere, Craig Biggio, and Kirby Puckett. Jay Bell should really probably be in the top five but I couldn't figure out who to bump so consider him 5b.

Berkman actually doesn't look that chunky right now. I think he's slimmed down some. I don't think I like it. Ooh, Nate McLouth is in! There is a Pirate on the field!

Two runners on, two outs, Jeter at the plate. If Jeter puts the AL up here, I'm not going to be happy. I will have to conclude that the Baseball Gods still hate me, even after all these years.

Jeter bounces out to the pitcher! The Baseball Gods love me! The Pirates will be in the World Series, count on it!


Hanley Ramirez gets a base hit. Thank goodness because I was really starting to fall asleep. Tim McCarver's latest piece of wisdom: "It's a fallacy to believe pitchers get the pitch exactly where they want it every time." Does anyone really believe that?

Another hit! Runners on first and third with Lancelot at the plate. Come on, Berk, give us some insurance! Yes! Deep fly to center that gets the runner in. Way to go, Big Fat Elvis Puma!

Pujols singles up the middle! Wow, it's like a real baseball game all of a sudden!

McCarver and Buck start talking about George Steinbrenner and I have to admit, as much as I hate the Yankees, it was pretty sad to see him looking so unwell when they carted him out on the field earlier. George should be sitting in the owner's box and saying obnoxious things to the media. Something's not quite right in the baseball world when that's not happening. I might be pretty bummed when he finally leaves us.

Joe Buck is really trying to get all his Hamilton talking points in, but Hamilton's at-bats aren't lasting long enough. This time around we do learn that Hamilton is tested 3 times a week as part of his reinstatement which I already knew. It is pretty remarkable that he played something like 15 minor leagues games over the past six years before popping into the Majors again. It's clear why he got drafted out of high school.


Okay, seriously, I'm so ready to shuttle God Bless America in the seventh inning stretch. The All-Star Game should feature Take Me Out to the Ballgame for crying out loud! My favorite version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame is Carly Simon's. I actually have two versions by her and I love both of them. I like that this one includes the verses - which are about how much a girl loves baseball, by the way - but I can't find the other version which I like a little better. It's very slow and it's just Carly's voice and then a piano.

J.D. Drew ties up the game with a two run home run. Boooooo! Every year I think the NL might finally win and every year the AL comes back toward the end of the game. I hate the AL!


I hope Robert Patrick and James Cameron made an ass load of money for handing over Terminator 2 to DirecTV commercials because otherwise there is just no excuse. Years later Patrick totally freaks me out in that role and it's tough to take him seriously after watching that stupid commercial over and over.

Tim McCarver says he thought Jonathan Papelbon's remarks about Mariano Rivera were respectful and he just doesn't understand what the problem was. Well, Tim, it's like this: Yankees fans are jackasses. They're giving Papelbon a really hard time, starting up an O-VER-RATE-D chant which stops immediately when he strikes out a batter with a high fastball clocked at 95 mph. Still, the NL goes back up (yay!) and he gets some hearty boos as he walks off the field.

Brian Wilson is pitching for the NL. Really? Never heard of this guy unless we're talking about the Beach Boy. I'm really enjoying the footage we keep seeing of Joe Girardi warming up pitchers in the bullpen. Once a catcher, always a catcher. I really liked Joe during his initial run with the Cubbies so I'm rooting for him in New York although not if it means the Yankees winning. Which is tricky.

Evan Longoria ties up the game again. If I stayed up to watch the AL win this thing again, I'm going to be annoyed. I should be in bed right now.


Corey Hart? If you're going to share a name with a musician, Brian Wilson is a much better choice.

I can't believe that Fox just cut away from Mariano Rivera's entrance from the bullpen. The game is in Yankee Stadium, one of their most beloved players with one of the most famous entrances in baseball is coming in, and Fox cuts away. Francona probably brought him in in the middle of the inning so he could get his big entrance and Fox cuts away. Fox is stupid. I hate the Yankees - have I mentioned that? - and even I love a good Mo entrance.

Listen, I don't know if I can do extra innings. I really need to go to bed. I have a long day of chasing kids and dodging furniture ahead of me. I'm not sure I'm that invested in who wins this game.


I'm telling you, I'm out of here at midnight.

Heather's Favorite Baseball Players, Current Edition

1. Lance Berkman
2. Roy Oswalt
3. Travis Hafner
4. Jason Bay (although I have one eye on Nate McLouth)
5. John Smoltz

Honorable mentions: Jason Varitek, Mariano Rivera (shhh, don't tell), Jake Peavy (Man, too many pitchers!)

Holy cow! I don't know what inning it is anymore because I'm really trying to edit this and get to bed, but Nate McLouth just made a beautiful throw from center field to Russel Martin at the plate who made a great tag/block to keep the game tied. That was very, very nice. Forget home runs, I could watch plays like that all night long. Um, except for tonight. Because I'm going to bed now. Sorry.


amy said...

Ugh, Chipper Jones. I hate that guy!

When I was in grade school, Chipper Jones was one of my favorite players. Braves games are a lot easier to watch on TV up here than the three teams within driving distance. Stupid MLB TV rules.

My favorite version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame is Carly Simon's.

The Goo Goo Dolls did a pretty good version for an MLB ad campaign a couple of years ago. Their version is my favorite.

Vanek's Hair said...

I missed most of the game. I saw the final five innings. I enjoyed them. I am glad I missed the Derek Jeter love fest. I bet they left off the "Captain Clutch" had A hit in the 2003 World Series. "One G*d damn hit?!"

"You can't say G*d damn on the radio"

"Who cares no one's listening" Love that movie.

Vanek's Hair's Top Five Childhood edition
1. Mike Schmidt
2. Gary Carter
3. Pete Rose
4. Mark McGwire
5. Jose Canseco

Adult Edition
1. Chase Utley (not just because of the "F" bomb, he's dreamy)
2. Ryan Howard
3. Manny Ramirez (I was surprised he didn't run to the wrong spot during player intros)
4. Jimmy Rollins
5. Curt Schilling (Does he count even though he's injured?)

Nate McClouth is permitted into the Vanek's Hair Club. Good head of hair on that guy.

Pookie said...

The report that Derek Jeter grounded into a double play reminded me of talking a big sports fan friend of mine in college. She was just learning how to read box scores. She said, "The one thing I can't figure out is GIDP. I figure it must be good because Cal Ripken does it all the time."

Jennifer said...

1. Chase Utley (not just because of the "F" bomb, he's dreamy)


dave in Rocha said...

Was it wrong of me to change the channel during the 7th-inning stretch? GBA is NOT our anthem, therefore I disagreed with Joe Buck's request for people to stand and remove their hats.

And besides that, Buck and MacCarver just suck anyway. It made it painful to watch. Well, them and the fact that they kept showing Jeter's expression in the dugout even though he was long gone from the game. WTF?!

Vanek's Hair said...


Picture perfect swing. Hits for power and average. Good speed. Good defense. Tremendous player.

Plus I am secure in enough in my masculinity

Heather B. said...

Amy, Chipper is one of those guys who I can fully admit is a great ballplayer and mostly likely a future Hall of Famer... but I hate his guts :P I've never heard the Goo Goo Dolls version. I'll have to dig around for it.

Vanek's Hair, Mike Schmidt probably should have been on my childhood list. At the very least he should have been an honorable mention. I had a full-force, foot stomping, tear shedding temper tantrum over a Schmidt baseball card when I was a kid. It was ugly. But Curt Schilling? Ugh. He's a douchebag. Nate does have excellent hair.

"The one thing I can't figure out is GIDP. I figure it must be good because Cal Ripken does it all the time."

:^::::::::: That's awesome, Pookie.

Dave, I hate McCarver and Buck (Buck a little less so) but I've heard them way worse than last night. I only remember a few head-scratchers. I did miss them asking people to stand for GBA though. That is pretty annoying since I wish we weren't listening to it in the first place.

Jennifer, in case your question was directed at "the F bomb" instead of a Vanek Hair's choice of the word "dreamy," when Utley was introduced at the Home Run Derby he got a pretty good booing. His mic picked him up saying, "Booing? F&@# you," with a good-natured smile on his face which was, come to think of it, pretty dreamy.

Lee Andrew said...

Eww, who let the fan of all the Phillies players on.

Ryan Howard = Overrated
Jimmy Rollins = Overrated
Chase Utley = great player, but not the MVP this year

Jennifer said...

Heather, thanks for the info on the "F Bomb", which I had missed and was a little confused about, but I found VH's use of "dreamy" particularly funny and slightly disturbing.

Anonymous said...

Are you Tim McCarver's love child? Because you sound like his whiny, Natinoal League loving ass! You both are giant tools.