I watched the mess between the two halves of the 11th inning last night. I had popped in a tape to record the game the other night just in case I missed something spectacular--how ironic.
I have to say after watching it that it was more pathetic to watch than to read about. I don't know if you saw it but here are my thoughts:
- First I have to say that the Fox team, Buck and McCarver, did a good job throughout (the mess at least).
- Fox identified the extra innings as a potential problem in the 10th. They thought that Garcia and
Padilla would go 3 making the 12th the do-or-die inning. Why didn't Bud start doing something about it earlier on? Then again why didn't they do something months or years ago? Too busy contracting teams?
- Fox kept going to an even-more-squirmy-than-usual Bud Selig in the stands during the top of the 11th. I do have to say that the man is inscrutable--he always looks like a man having a rough bowel movement. Although, Bud was as well coifed and attired as I have even seen him, at least until the fiasco after which he was his usual disheveled mess.
- The delay between innings was ridiculous. As Fox pointed out either you play another inning or you don't. Just make a decision. Also pointed out by Fox was the fact that the decision need not be made until after the 11th--what if the NL scored then the point is moot? So the delay was unnecessary.
- After Selig apparently made a decision and sent the managers back to the dugouts (this took around 4 minutes), he called them back to relay something else (wasting another 1-2 minutes). Maybe he didn't know what he was going to do until after he sent the managers to their dugouts necessitating calling them back. Whatever was being said and done on the field, Selig came off as an indecisive boob. Somewhere Don Fehr was chuckling to himself.
- Also, Garcia threw a good couple of innings before the bottom of the 11th just trying to stay loose. You could see his thoughts ("C'mon. Let's go.") plainly on his face. He even stopped throwing and crouched on the mound as if he were disgusted with the whole thing. I thought the point was to protect the pitchers' arms?!?
- Buck and McCarver discussed the possibility of a tie game and said something like, "it's no big deal. The sun will come up tomorrow." They were honestly surprised by the fans' reaction; they thought that the fans would be more sympathetic to the pitchers. I guess $175 tickets will do that. In all honesty, the fans got an extra 2 innings and overall a very well played game (aside from Sosa's running blunder). There was no conclusion, but it wasn't bad.
- The announcement that the game would end at the end of the eleventh came after (or more accurately as) Luis Castillo flied out to start the inning. It was a poorly worded, unapologetic announcement, something like, "Ladies and gentlemen, the game will end in a tie if the NL doesn't score in this inning." There was no mention of the concern for the pitchers, no "thanks for your understanding," no mention of who made the decision, no real explanation at all. I think that it was intended to be a good thing-keep the fans informed, avoid the melee that would result if the game just ended with no warning-, but it shows how out of touch MLB is when it thinks that its decrees will assuage the fanbase. By the way, it was roundly booed.
- The fans were chanting, "Let them play." Kudos to Joe Buck for noting that this was a nod to "The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training" (starring Tony Curtis-it was one of my earliest movies without cartoon characters) and that that line was first uttered by Bob Watson when the Bears exhibition game in the Astrodome had to be stopped prematurely, the same Bob Watson who was now in the commissioner's office and at the game. However, I didn't hear any one say, "Bud must go."
- It was enough to make me, the Bud critic that I am, sympathetic to the poor slob. The used car salesman turned owners' rep, got an all-star game in his home town, then the HR derby is tainted by the steroid issue and marginalized by headlines that the players did not set a strike date (huh?). Then he gets himself all gussied up in his best suit and combs his hair with his finest possum-based hair oil and goes to the game. He does the right thing and calls the game, and the world hates him.
- Enough to make me sympathetic until he opened his mouth. The dufe blames the managers for not managing the rosters properly:
"There is a different bit of thinking today,'' Selig said. "I'm not going to be critical of the managers.
They felt they were doing the right thing and they got everybody in.
"But I think it's time (for change). We do have 30 players. We've expanded the roster. So, hopefully that should be enough.''
(He must mean that the rosters are expanded from what a team is allowed to carry during the season since there have been 30-man rosters in the All-Star game since before expansion, even though each team must be represented and there are nearly twice as many teams)
- He acts all commishy and avers bravely:
Selig called it a "horribly painful and heartbreaking lesson.''
"We will learn from this,'' he vowed. "This will never happen again.''
- Let's get this straight. There will be no players added, no tie-breaking home run derby (why not it's an exhibition and the fans like the HR derby), and no position players pitching (good. It seems like good fun when Wade Boggs throws knuckleballs, but I remember a decent backup OF for the Phils, Mike Anderson, who always wanted to pitch, finally got the chance, destroyed his arm, and ruined his career. Jose Canseco could have gotten 500 HRs if he hadn't thrown his arm out in '93 goofing around on the mound. Position players can hurt themselves pitching possibly
more easily than pitchers). But this will never happen again. How? He is going to mandate that the managers hold back one or two pitchers for extra innings (maybe he should have required Torre to take more than 9 pitchers and left Jeter at home). So that guarantees at least 13 innings (9 from the non-reserved pitchers and then two innings from the two extra-inning guys. What happens at the end of the 13th? Ok, so you hold back more. But at most the starters will go 2 innings and the relievers 1. Torre took 5 starters and 4 relievers; that's at most 14
innings. Brenley took 3 starters and 7 (?) closers; that's at most 13 innings. Didn't anyone ever do this math? Maybe Bud expects the starting pitcher to throw 9 like the old days (the all-time record is 6 innings in a game by Lefty Gomez in 1935). The only way to continue the game with real pitchers indefinitely is to expand the roster and establish how many pitchers, especially starters, must be taken. Say they require 12 pitchers, 7 of which must be starters, that would
still mean a max of 19 innings. The longest all-star game was 15 in 1967, but what if there is a 20-inning game-is he going to call that? I say set the game length to a maximum of, say, 12 innings, and then either it ends in a tie or you have a tie-breaker like a HR derby, the fans pick the winner electronically, you flip Ted Williams frozen head and pick heads or tails, etc.
- From ESPN: Although Selig called the solutions easy, he said they wouldn't be discussed until after the season. But he suggested managers return to using starters deeper into the game and discarding the pitcher-per-inning trend. "Look, we can have the debate about how you should use players in the All-Star Game, but we were past that ...'' Selig said. "I didn't have that option to sit and sort of pontificate about what they should have done. That's for another day.''
- (I thought pontificating was on Bud's daily agenda.) It's baseball's typical response: declare an issue resolved and it is. Don't they realize that these sorts of games are what created a situation where the fans were ready to boo Bud and his cohorts at the least provocation?
- By the way, using all of the players on your roster is nothing new, even though reporters like to point to Mike Mussina sitting out the '93 game in Baltimore as the impetus for getting everyone in. In '81, the game with the largest attendance by the way, the NL used 29 players to the AL's 27 (the all-time record for players used tied with '99) in winning 5-4 thanks to a Mike Schmidt HR in the 8th. (Thanks to the MLB.com site)
- Barry Bonds tackled/hugged Torii Hunter coming off the field after stealing Bonds of a HR. He also kissed his son after his actual HR (Is that the one that he withheld child support from in the last strike?). I hear nary a mention of that side of Barry. The guys the best player in baseball, he actually says some interesting (and possibly ill-advised) things, and the media paints him as a dour prima donna.
- We saw the Sammy Sosa of old at the all-star game. Getting thrown out at 3rd on that ball to left was inexcusable. He was also swinging at everything he could reach like the Sammy of old.
- Not only did Bob Brenley take his entire roster to the all-star game, he apparently took his coaching staff, trainers, and bat boys. I have never seen that many purple pinstripes in my life. Who designed those uniforms, Prince? By the way, McCarver and Buck discussed at length the decision by Brenley to leave Paul LoDuca off the roster while taking Miller and Santiago. I didn't hear the more egregious inclusion of Luis Gonzalez being debated, however.