Again, let me preface this with the fact that I do realize I don't know the man, but I wasn't the only one who noticed Jon Lester's general demeanor as he mingled along with the other All Stars on the field with the "Everyday Heroes", the community activists the league honored with a pregame ceremony. This was exactly the impression he gave me at last year's Fan Appreciation Day; here he seemed to be positioning himself between the other ballplayers so as not to have to actually interact with anyone.
I'm still not drawing any conclusions. I'm just noting this and wondering why it is.
I am doing my best not to be bitter with Joe Girardi. Obviously Youkilis's numbers weren't better and Girardi was being disingenuous when he gave that as the reason for selecting Konerko. I think reports of Pirates fans teaming up with Yankees fans to vote for Swisher are appalling if true. But it's also not like there aren't enough Red Sox on the roster, we did our best to vote him in, and there's only so much complaining we can do about it before it reflects poorly on us, too. Just my $0.02.
I understand All-Star Game cognitive dissonance when it comes to Yankees players, but cheering a mistake for Cano is cheering a mistake for the American League team, the same team their beloved Angels are playing for. (If you can't bring yourself to cheer, stony silence would be more appropriate given it's meant to be a celebratory occasion -- and if you take it more seriously than that, it must be because it decides home-field advantage in the World Series, in which we come back to how imbecilic it is to cheer for a mistake by an AL player). Then again, these are fans that use Thunderstix and believe umpires conspire to hand the Red Sox playoff victories, so I don't know what I'm expecting.
Ichiro makes a swooping, circus catch in center to end the inning. At least he got a nice hand.
Ubaldo starts for the AL. Chin music for Jeter, who runs away. Heh. Nice touch with the Bob Sheppard call, if we're being non-partisan. Unfortunately this inevitably leads to Tim McCarver waxing rhapsodic about the Yankees.
More nice defense on display in the form of a sick double play by the NL to end the inning, begun by Jimenez, who stuck a daisy-cutter off the bat of Josh Hamilton.
Price for the NL. Pettitte warming for the AL. Filth to Ryan Howard for a swinging K. Cheers dimmer when Cano makes another error. Is this where I say, with a wink, "Pedroia woulda had it?"
A shattered bat almost decapitates Price, but Longoria and Cano turn another beautiful two-fer to end the inning.
Huge ovation for Vladi Guerrero when he steps to the plate, to go with the one he got at introductions. Now that, I can get behind.
Cano up with a runner on and two outs. Chops a 2004 A-Rod style weak grounder to second to end another inning. Pitching and defense -- where have we heard that before?
Pettitte for the AL. All I'm gonna say about FOX so far is that when it comes to patronizing stat break themes, I preferred the talking cartoon baseball to "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes."
Pettitte's no joke, but Hart made a convincing case for the "Home Run Derby messes up swings" faction just now.
Lester warming in the pen. OK, I can't resist one more shot at Girardi, via Dan Lamothe: "Doesn't Girardi have three other Yankees he wants to get in first?" But really, that's all. Really. I'm going to repeat that till I mean it.
Jeter back at the plate. Funny how McCarver conditioning helped me block out most of Morgan last night, but I have more trouble doing it when it's the man himself. I guess he's the ultimate test. A formidable opponent for my selective-attention skills.
Johnson is made of filth. Jeter smiles and shakes his head. The Pitching and Defense Show continues.
I'm glad Cliff Lee is a Ranger and not a Yankee as was rumored at least briefly. Sox may have dodged a bullet on that one.
All my ire for Girardi momentarily dissipates when he has to think of a way to respond on national television to McCarver mentioning, totally at random, during his in-game interview, that Cliff Lee was renting Jamie Moyer's house in Seattle.
Apparently Jon Lester is no longer warming up. [Comment redacted.]
Cabrera's up. Last night as he hit lasers all over the park I really wanted to see him in-game. Unfortunately he grounds out like seemingly everybody else.
Verlander warming. #@%@$T%
You think that Ryan Braun catch was amazing when you first saw it, try watching it on slow-motion DVR rewind.
At the rate we're going, FOX is going to have to scrunch all the commercial time it sold against this game into a 20-minute Commercial Break from Hell.
Lester warming up for nothing isn't that big a deal, right? He probably would've thrown a bullpen session at some point this week anyway, correct? Verlander warmed up for no...oh, wait. Well, Phil Hughes being up next probably really is a coincidence.
Hang on, Robinson Cano just missed another one at second, and it's just that the logo on his cap is kind of taunting me. I'm going to go...um...meditate for a minute.
Lester is warming up for a second time. Just splendid.
The AL got out of a runners-at-the-corners jam behind Verlander, and the stalemate -- or proof that this is the Year of the Pitcher, depending on how you look at it -- continues.
No sooner had that been said, however, than Kuo air-mails a throw to first and it's runners at second and third with nobody out for the AL. A sac fly by Robinson Cano follows for the game's first run. Robinson Cano, I always liked that guy...
Gotta give it up for that Hanley Ramirez play at short, as well as the expertly applied tag by Scott Rolen to stifle Joe Mauer at third and end the rally. Can't front on that one. Just can't.
Jon Lester is pitching. *puts away pitchfork sharpener and torch supplies*
He makes short work of Hanley Ramirez with a quick strike and a grounder he fields himself for the first out. (as Sean MacAdam put it, "the Red Sox angles never stop").
Martin Prado fouls himself into a full count against Lester after starting off 3-0, before popping out to Jeter. Lester stays out of the zone with Adrian Gonzalez, but he earns a silly-looking swing on the cutter followed by a weak grounder to Kinsler to end the inning. And that's that. Lester got his due. That's all we wanted.
Marlon Byrd: Ichiro Impersonation Fail.
Oh, look, it's Paul Konerko! Oh look, Konerko is initiating a strike-em-out / throw-em-out double play! Admittedly most of the blame for this lies with Andrus. But still. It's the principle of the thing. In better news, Papi is on deck.
Roy Halladay lifted mid-inning, making way for Matt Capps to face Ortiz after a Josh Hamilton single. I don't blame Charlie Manuel given the game situation, but that's got to sting a bit if you're Halladay. Rehash of Papi's slump (the 6th on ESPN in the last 24 hours) comes three pitches into the at-bat. Capps drops Papi looking with a gnarly hopping fastball, inning over.
Derek Jeter is interviewed in the dugout. Joe Girardi is close-upped-upon and discussed. George Steinbrenner is discussed. Phil Hughes is pitching.I can only imagine this means A-Rod has changed into a suit and is headed to the booth for another six-minute interview.
Heads-up run to take third for Rolen. He does that Reds uni proud diving and sliding like that. Just call him Charlie Hustle.
Chris Young is not having the best All-Star week, at least not on the field. He bowed out of the Derby early last night, and tonight pops up to Konerko at first base in his plate appearance.
Yeah, I said Konerko at first base, what of it? What are you talking about, my eye is twitching?
Hughes' relief, Matt Thornton, walks Byrd to load the bases. Brian McCann hits what McCarver described as "The biggest National League hit in 13 years," which would be a good call if it hadn't been 14 years since the NL last won. 3-1 NL. None other than Phil Hughes is on the hook for the loss.
In and out of Matt Holliday's glove off the bat of John Buck. Kinsler up.
I can only imagine what trash Pedroia has been talking at Ian Kinsler this week. He seems to do it whenever they meet on the basepaths when the Rangers and Red Sox play each other (Kinsler and Pedroia battled for the ASU starting job in college, and Pedroia wound up being king of the mountain there, but their rivalry still seems to be friendly). Kinsler doesn't squander his chance, though, walking to load the bases. He also gets in a sweet slide on a Vernon Wells grounder and breaks up the double play.
But then, representing the tying run, Torii Hunter strikes out swinging.
We're plumbing the lower levels of the depth chart at this point. But Rafael Soriano of the Tampa Bay Rays earns three flyouts for a neat 1-2-3 inning.
Brian Wilson pitches to Elvis. Elvis grounds out.
As my Dad would say, "let's just get this turkey over with."