July 13, 2006 [LINK]

All Star Game 2006

It looked like the Senior Circuit was finally going to break their long string of defeats at the hands of the AL upstarts on Tuesday night, but destiny proved otherwise. After the AL put runners on second and third in the top of the ninth inning, it seemed obvious to me that Trevor Hoffman (the Padres' closer) was having problems, and I was dumbfounded that NL Manager Phil Garner did not replace him. If he didn't think anyone left in the bullpen could have done better, that would seem to show that he shouldn't have replaced the pitchers almost every previous inning. Running out of relief pitchers, you may recall, was the reason why the extra-inning game in 2003 was declared a tie by Commissioner Bud. Haven't they learned from that? Anyway, Michael Young's triple won the game in especially dramatic fashion. Wow!

The loss by the "home league" was a real kick in the gut to Pittsburgh fans, who are suffering through yet another poor season by the Pirates. It kind of spoiled the feel-good memories about Roberto Clemente, who was remembered in a special ceremony. Pittsburgh has hosted the All Star Game four times, two each in Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium. On each previous occasion, the National League had won.

Home Run Derby

The Mets' David Wright wowed the crowd with his many long balls in the first round, but Ryan Howard rebounded from a slow start and ultimately prevailed in the final round. Thus, a Phillies player won for the second year in a row. I was amused by the special appearance on Fox's All Star Game broadcast by "Physics of Baseball" author Robert Adair, who explained the necessary bat velocity and weather conditions for a ball to reach the Monongahela [Allegheny!] River on the fly. David Ortiz did it, as well as [Ryan Howard].

[BELATED UPDATE: Thanks to Brian Hughes and Dan ? for letting me know about the mistakes in the above paragraph, which are now corrected -- one week late! Brian points out that two Mets players -- Carlos Beltran and David Wright -- were solely responsible for both of the National League runs in the All Star Game, as well as for what would have been an RBI when Alfonso Soriano was thrown out at the plate.]

Ballparks in the news

Thanks to Mike Zurawski for filling in my information void with the latest ballpark news updates. The previously-announced RFK Stadium "grand reopening" set for July 21 seems to be fairly modest in terms of physical improvements, mostly related to landscaping and food vending upgrades. I had wished they would put in an old-fashioned manual scoreboard in right-center field, but such is not the case. One definite improvement from the fans' point of view is a sharp drop in ticket prices for the outfield upper deck seats, where I sat earlier this month. See Washington Times. Also, the D.C. Council approved a parking plan along the lines proposed by Mayor Williams, which I think is entirely appropriate. The Lerners may object, but they're not paying for it, so so what? There are major financial uncertainties, however, and one major slip-up could delay the scheduled April 2008 opening of the Nationals' future ballpark.

The Blue Jays are planning on further improvements to the Rogers Centre, and the team president Robert Godrey says "in two or three years, our stadium will have enough of a makeover that we feel we'll have a shot." See Toronto Globe and Mail. There are still several other new stadiums vying for an All Star slot, however, and I would be surprised if the former Skydome gets a second such opportunity before the newer ones. That article mentions a rumor passed along by one of the Fox sportscasters, that Yankee Stadium is likely to get the All Star Game in 2008, the final year before it is replaced.

Speaking of which, New York City has approved $1.58 billion the bond financing for the Yankees' and Mets' future stadiums, contingent upon IRS approval. "The agreement would save the city about $113 million in the next 40 years by relieving it from maintenance and repair costs that would have exceeded rent payments at the two existing stadiums..." How's that for a lame excuse for subsidizing wealthy team owners? I guess renegotiate rent payments to at least cover maintenance costs is out of the question. See bloomberg.com.