July 2007

20070710_goodyear_blimp

You know it’s a big event when the Goodyear Blimp is there.

20070710_hot_air_balloon

A hot air balloon right outside the ballpark

20070710_sign_outside_foleys

This was the sign on Tuesday morning right outside the watering hole where we scribes gathered after the various events. Made me laugh, I dunno.

20070710_bagpiper_downtown_sf

Just a bagpiper in downtown SF. Why not?

20070710_sf_marriott

Every hotel in downtown was decked out in All-Star regalia.

Garlic Fries…

…aka All-Star Game flavor.

I took a bunch of pictures today and was all set to put up a photo gallery of sights from the All-Star Game. Good stuff, too — a hot-air balloon, the Goodyear blimp, Bonds taking BP, a view from the press box and lots more. Then I couldn’t get my camera to sync up via USB with my laptop. So you’ll have to wait until I can get home and do it on my home computer. Ah well. That’ll be something to post while I’m not in Philly.

Anyway, it really has been a fun day. Tuesday is the best day of the week for those of us covering the events, because it’s the one day when there’s not much going on during the day. You can get out and wander a bit.

I think my favorite sight of the day was a father and son walking up O’Farrell Street, right outside my hotel, this morning. Dad was in a gray flannel Sandy Koufax Dodgers jersey — No. 32, no name, very sharp. Kid was in a shiny new white No. 9 Dodgers jersey, for Juan Pierre, but with his own name on it. I’m sure they got a few looks walking around San Francisco in Dodger stuff, but it was really cool. Gets right at all the corny stuff that I love about baseball.

Today is a fun day for the players, too. They’re all signing stuff for each other, trading stuff, hanging out and having a good time. It’s neat to see guys who aren’t teammates completely hit it off — Ben Sheets and Roy Oswalt were giving each other a hard time like they’d been playing on the same team together for 10 years. Team photos are today, and of course BP on the field, which all the fans dig.

The game starts in an hour or so, and no matter what anyone says, it’s still one of my favorite events of the year. If you grew up loving baseball — and heaven knows I did — you have tons of cool All-Star memories, and it’s an absolute privilege to be here. As I wrote yesterday, wish you all could be here, and I hope you all get to go when it’s in StL.

-M.

Derby Night

The thing is just too bloody long. The event is great, but way too much filler. But anyway, a few tidbits…

* This should help end the myth that AT&T Park favors LH hitters. Bonds is ridiculous — he hits all those home runs DESPITE the park. It’s a brutal park for left-handed power.

* With that in mind, notice how AP swung tonight. In Chicago in 03, he was all over the field, left right and center. Tonight, everything was pulled, because that’s where you have to hit it.

* Dave McKay joked that Berman jinxed Pujols by mentioning that he had no outs yet in the second round, after which Pujols immediately made several outs in a row.

* McKay and Pujols both said that it was absolutely brutal to see in the early rounds. It was tough on the hitters, leading to the low totals, and it even had some effect in that the pitchers started lobbing them even more than usual in hopes of making sure the hitters could see.

* AP had a big smile on his face in the clubhouse afterwards. It was clear that he really enjoyed it, and he absolutely loved having AJ there.

* Vlad Guerrero is awesome. Man it’s fun to see him just erupt on the ball like he does. I appreciate the guys with smooth, easy effortless swings too, but it’s really entertaining to see explosive swings like his. And according to people I’ve talked to, he’s also a terrific guy. So it was cool to see him win.

-M, ready for dinner.

Wish You Were Here

Monday is by far the longest day of the All-Star week, starting with press conferences in the morning and going through the HR Derby tonight. But it’s also the day that it really starts to feel like a big event.

TLR’s morning presser didn’t reveal all that much, though was anybody surprised to see him put Bonds in the 2 spot? Not I. And of course he went switch-left-switch-left-right-left-right-left. I don’t think Leyland has any situational lefties in his pen, but if he does, the NL is ready.

Pujols was sunny and entertaining during his media availability session, which was nice to see. I got the feeling that he kind of enjoys not being THE center of everything, the way it’s been once or twice at the ASG for him before. But I may just be imagining that. Still, it did seem like he was enjoying himself. And I have to say, it’s impressive to see a guy field questions back and forth between English and Spanish, then English, then Spanish again. Even if you speak both languages fluently, that can’t be easy.

The availability session did start to take on some of that Super Bowl Media Day vibe, with a couple of different sets of completely off-the-wall, non-ball-related questions, but it wasn’t too bad. We were all able to get our work done, so as long as that remains the case, no worries.

Right now, the NL stars are on the field taking BP, and it’s an absolute zoo out there. The field is open to media, but it’s not like you can get anywhere once you’re out there. On the other hand, it’s mild and sunny, and the All-Stars are taking batting practice at a great ballpark, so even if you can’t actually work, it’s a pretty nice place to be.

The Derby gets under way at 7 CT. It is, of course, way too long — they really should cut it from 10 outs to 3 or 4 or 5 in all the rounds but maybe the final — but it’s a fun event.

Bonds just stepped in to take BP. I’m in a workroom underneath the stadium as I write this, and we could actually hear the roar for him under the concrete.

Anyway, just an update for now. I’m going to go back out and watch some more BP.

-M.

The Future

Greetings from AT&T Park, my favorite ballpark in the Majors. The Futures Game gets under way a little after 3 pm CT, kicking off the on-field portion of All-Star Week.

I’ll try to check in with updates, observations, etc. over the course of the next several days, starting with this: Bryan Anderson is the starting catcher for the US team in the Futures Game, batting ninth. Colby Rasmus is not in the starting lineup — the starting outfield is Jacoby Ellsbury, Justin Upton and Jay Bruce.

-M.

The Lud, The Load and the lineup

TLR has put Ryan Ludwick in the two spot in the order the past two nights. I understand his thought process — he loves that "danger" in the No. 2 hole, the threat of a guy who can hit the ball out of the park.

There’s just one problem. Ludwick does some things very well — like hit for power. There are other things that he doesn’t do nearly so well — like get on base. He’s a perfect choice for the fifth or sixth or seventh spot when he plays, much like I feel about Juan Encarnacion.

So what to do about the two spot? Here’s a novel idea — what about Scott Rolen? The middle of the order doesn’t seem like the best place for Rolen right now; his power is clearly missing, whether it’s due to a physical issue or something else. But in the context of this lineup, he’s doing a great job of getting on base. A .344 OBP isn’t all that special, but it’s better than a lot of what his teammates are doing. So why not give it a look?

On a night like tonight, when it’s a LHP and he sits Duncan, you could go something like Taguchi-Rolen-Pujols-Encarnacion-Ludwick-Molina-middle infielder-middle infielder. When it’s a RHP, Taguchi-Rolen-Pujols-Duncan-Encarnacion-etc.

Thoughts?

-M., with the iPod on shuffle.

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