It’s not often that baseball reaches “Sleep Can Wait” status, but it happened last night with the MLB all-star game. Major League Baseball’s hallowed grounds, Yankee Stadium, was a fitting venue for what truly turned out to be a midsummer classic (and I only tuned in starting in the 8th inning).
With home field advantage in the World Series at stake, players from the American League and National League played like the game really mattered. There were countless opportunities for players to half-ass their way to defeat, but that would have robbed the fans of a great showcase of the game’s talent.
Admittedly, I don’t watch a lot of baseball. In fact, I haven’t watched more than a scattering of innings all season long. I stay casually invested through daily SportsCenter highlights, but even I was surprised to realize how many all-stars I had never even heard of.
But in place of familiar names like Griffey and Bonds, new faces made an impact. Matt Holiday belted a homer. Evan Longoria showed that the upstart Tampa Bay Rays have some serious players. And longtime underachiever J.D. Drew took home MVP honors.
Justin Morneau, who won Monday’s Home Run Derby, scored the winning run in the bottom of the 15th, sliding in seconds before a tag was applied. It was one of at least a half dozen dramatic plays in extra innings that seemed to feature more stranded runners than a childhood game of pickle in the middle.
The pitching staffs were whittled down to the bone, and the Fox crew cautioned fans to prepare for the worst – another tie game being ended prematurely – as the managers didn’t want to overextend their players.
That problem was avoided, and for one night anyway, baseball lived up to its claim as America’s past time. I battled my eyes to stay awake past the 1:30 a.m. mark because the effort from the stars was something to behold. From Dan Uggla overcoming errors to Miguel Tejada showing age ain’t nothing but a number, this all-star game had it all. And it actually made me excited to watch baseball, even if I won’t get this excited again until October.
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