7/17/08 – All-Star Blunder?

Hey, I’m pretty easy-going about things. Especially sports. As I’ve said over-and-over again in interviews, writing a baseball book isn’t like curing world hunger. Now, there was certainly a day when I cared deeply about sports: when I played soccer as a kid. I was never one to cry over a loss but I was the type to play the game over and over again in my head – wins and losses.

And I still do…For example, my daughter came home from camp yesterday and said she met a friend named Joanne. “Really?. . . Joanne,” I thought. Oddly, I immediately teleport myself back to a soccer game during my junior year in high school. The game had gone into sudden-death overtime and I was called off-sides just as my teammate, Joanne Duymovic – one of the best athletes I’ve ever seen – scored. Of course, the goal was called back because of my error. The opposing team eventually scored and we lost the game — when we should have won. I still feel guilty. That happened 24 years ago, folks! So sports do drive a sixth sense in me.

But, as a spectator, I have a hard time getting really emotional when games are won or lost. Sure I hang on my seat and enjoy the contest, like most fans. But when it’s an exhibition game, such as Wednesday night’s All-Star game, I really just have fun watching, because I really don’t care who wins. There are people who care deeply and there are journalists who entertain those (perhaps misguided, yet harmless) feelings with columns about every aspect of the game. Hey, if there’s an audience, there will be a writer writing to that audience. I get it and it doesn’t bother me. Journalists have billed Wednesday’s game, which the AL won 4-3 in 15 innings, as everything from a mismanaged debacle to a little-league fiasco to, well, simply boring.

Me? I enjoyed watching it. I enjoyed watching the plays at the plate, the blooper hits and the miscommunication between outfielders who were teammates for only a night. I enjoyed wondering whether Bud Selig was going to call the game in the 13th inning. I enjoyed wondering who Terry Francona was going to pitch – maybe his remaining position player? I enjoyed the defensive play. Then I wondered whether Bud Selig was going to call the game in the 14th inning. For all of those reasons – and many more — I watched. The next morning, I even enjoyed remembering that Derek Jeter – someone’s whose face I can barely stand to look at – was in the dugout until the bitter end, even though he didn’t play past the 5th inning. And he was the first guy to reach Michael Young, enveloping him in a hug as the Rangers’s shortstop stood on first base after hitting a sacrifice fly that scored the winning run. Barely. But barely counts.

Speaking of which, I even half-hoped that catcher Brian McCann (Padres) missed the tag at the plate that ended the game. “NO he was out!” I shouted, hoping that the game would continue. I looked at all the tired fans – those who stayed – and remembered that beer sales ended two hours ago and the flask was probably bone dry. I even enjoyed the fact that there were still fans there at 2AM. I didn’t mock them. I really was happy that they were still there.

But I still wanted the game to go on. Then again, I live in Seattle. It was only 11PM when the game ended – I was good for another four innings or so.

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