At dusk, the stars all appear on the screen
Welcome to the 79th All-Star Game at New York’s Yankee Stadium.
Well, this is the big one. It’s the final Midsummer Classic in the House that Ruth Built and George Steinbrenner Rebuilt. It’s the event that has New York City buzzing, even by New York City standards. Stars of stage, screen and sports will be in attendance, including 52 Hall of Famers. And more than 1,800 credentialed media members are here, which means more than 1,800 pounds of free, stale popcorn will be consumed.
I’m excited. Are you excited? Of course you are.
So much more goes on at these All-Star Games than just baseball. For example, in a couple hours, a “Stand Up 2 Cancer” press conference will take place in the room to my right. Sheryl Crow and Sarah Jessica Parker will be talking about, presumably, their stance against cancer. I suppose that’s a good stance to take. Personally, I’d like to stand up to people who use the number 2 in place of “to.” That needs 2 stop.
Remember that the winner of tonight’s game gets home-field advantage for the World Series, which is a remarkably dumb arrangement that has somehow lasted several years now.
So without any further ado… the lineups…
AMERICAN LEAGUE (36-40-2): RF Ichiro Suzuki, SS Derek Jeter, CF Josh Hamilton, 3B Alex Rodriguez, LF Manny Ramirez, DH Milton Bradley, 1B Kevin Youkilis, C Joe Mauer, 2B Dustin Pedroia. LHP Cliff Lee.
NATIONAL LEAGUE (40-36-2): SS Hanley Ramirez, 2B Chase Utley, 1B Lance Berkman, DH Albert Pujols, 3B Chipper Jones, RF Matt Holliday, LF Ryan Braun, CF Kosuke Fukudome, C Geovany Soto. RHP Ben Sheets.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Lee is the fifth Indians pitcher to start an All-Star Game. The first was Bob Feller in 1941 and 1946, next was Luis Tiant in 1968, Gaylord Perry got the nod in 1974 and Charles Nagy started it in ’96.
- The AL is unbeaten in the last 11 All-Star Games, including the 7-7, 11-inning tie in 2002, which prompted the aforementioned dumb, home field advantage arrangement. The 11-game unbeaten streak ties an ASG record set by the NL from 1972-82.
- The scores of the previous 78 ASGs add up to 331 runs for the AL and 330 runs for the NL. Now that’s parity.
- This is the eighth time the ASG has been in the Big Apple. Ebbets Field hosted it in 1949, it was at the Polo Grounds in 1934 and ’42, Shea Stadium had it in 1964 and Yankee Stadium has had it three other times — 1939, 1960 and 1977. No other city has hosted the event more. Chicago had it seven times.
- Speaking of Chicago, the Cubs have eight players here (Ryan Dempster, Fukudome, Aramis Ramirez, Soto, Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Marmol and the injured Alfonso Soriano and Kerry Wood). That’s a club record.
- The Red Sox have seven players here (Jason Varitek, Jonathan Papelbon, Pedroia, Youkilis, J.D. Drew, Ramirez and the injured David Ortiz). It’s the fifth time in club history that’s happened.
- The AL team features six closers (Papelbon, Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez, George Sherrill and Joakim Soria). That created a controversy when Papelbon said that if he were manager, he’d give himself the shot at closing the game over Mariano Rivera. The NY media had a field day with that one, and Papelbon was just in the AL clubhouse looking rather surly.
- A-Rod and Manny Ramirez are the senior members of this year’s ASG cast. Both have been selected to 12 All-Star teams.
- Three 24-year-olds are in the starting lineups — Ramirez, Braun and Pedroia.
- All in all, there are 28 first-timers here, the most since there were 28 ASG first-timers in 2003.
- Soria, Hamilton and Dan Uggla were all Rule 5 selections.
- Next year’s game is at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Should be a little less hectic.
Enjoy the game.