“This time it counts.” Ever since Major League Baseball decided that the winning league in the All-Star Game would have home field advantage in the World Series, that promotional hook has been repeated ad nauseum. And ever since it’s counted, the American League has yet to lose and Tuesday night’s epic was no different. In the fourth and final All-Star Game at the original Yankee Stadium (they’re moving into a new ballpark next year), the AL prevailed once again 4-3 in a 15-inning contest (the longest since 1967) that was quite glorious to behold. And when Home Run Derby-winner and Twins’ First Baseman Justin Morneau barely beat the throw home on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 15th (after what felt like dozens of wasted opportunities to end the game), the 4 hour 50 minute running time set a record for longest All-Star game ever. Wasn’t that the duration of the Wimbledon final between Nadal and Federer? These 5-hour sporting events are killing me!
Proving once again that good pitching beats good hitting, there were 34 strike-outs in the game and 28 runners left on base, a master class in futility by the greatest players in the world. There was also 3 errors by one player, lots of stolen bases, a couple of home runs, a bunch of plays at the plate, and a based loaded-no out jam where nobody scored–basically, this game had a little of everything which is why it was so damn good and a Midsummer Classic of the highest order.
All 63 All-Stars that were available saw action (unusual in itself), and it was fascinating to consider what would’ve happened next if the score had remained tied. Both the AL and NL were on their last available pitcher, and Tampa Bay starter Scott Kazmir (who threw over 100 pitches just two days prior and wasn’t supposed to pitch at all) and the Phillies’ closer Brad Lidge (who usually only pitches one inning) could’ve gone out there maybe one more time and that’s it. Rumor has it that Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew and Mets third baseman David Wright would’ve been next up on the hill, but thank God it didn’t come to that. Maybe they should consider inter-league play records (also dominated by the AL however) or regular season win-loss records of the teams in the World Series to determine who gets the four home games (first two and last two) and who gets the middle three–or does that make too much sense?