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All Star Post Mortem


by Bradley Joseph

 

A Star System Evaluation of All-Star Weekend...

 

The Cell:

 

***1/2 stars

 

Few would disagree that The Cell formerly known as Comiskey Park was in all its glory this past weekend.  The commonly disparaged stadium so often referred to in the Chicago media as the “concrete blob,” the “ball mall,” and the “cell block,” came off like many critics did not believe possible.  The packed stadium shone like the diamond in the rough many Sox fans believe it to be, and even more so because of its annual post-2000 improvements.  A packed house mixed with Chicagoans and out-of-towners were treated to the freshly painted metal work, the brick trim, the mammoth new centerfield scoreboard screen, the regal star carved into Roger Bossard’s centerfield grass, and most importantly, the wafting scent of onions and Kosher dogs that float through the wide concourses.  Did it emanate the grandeur and tradition of Wrigley Field?  No.  But the land of high upper decks and unobstructed views did not disappoint, adding its own unique charm to the magic of All-star weekend.

 

The Derby:

 

* star

 

The homerun derby was the most disappointing aspect of the weekend and none of that was the fault of the White Sox.  The first disappointment was that the national league “mystery man,” previously known as “TBA,” turned out to be Richie Sexon.  Hey Bonds, is it that taxing to walk up to the plate and take a couple wacks for the sake of 46,000 people who bought tickets anticipating your participation. 

 

Second, there was not a single player in the Derby from either Chicago team.  MLB must make a provisional rule to accommodate the local fans that spent a small fortune on tickets.  When Maggs was added to the all-star team, why was he not asked to replace Brett Boone (he of the twenty-eight 395 ft. homeruns) who could nOt even hit one dinger in the derby?  

 

Third, and perhaps most annoying – I’m still not sure, other than the 1st round, what type of system they were using to determine who advances.  All I know is that they strangely bracketed the combatants in a way that disallowed Giambi and Pujols, the two most prolific bombers of the first two rounds, from meeting in the final round, which made the bracketing system seem silly.  Furthermore, if they are going to bracket hitters, why didn’t they place the national league contestants in one bracket, and the Americans in the other, thereby securing the drama of NL vs. AL.  Granted, it did work out that way, but as it was set up there could have just as easily been a Giambi vs. Anderson, or Edmonds vs. Pujols final round.  But, in a very Seligesque manner, MLB seemed to employ the absolute worst and least sensible method of orchestrating a homerun derby.  Who could expect more out of a league that still has six teams in one division and four in another? 

 

And finally, couldn’t any of these chumps hit the ball to the concourse?  Pathetic.

 

The pre-game ceremonies:

 

**** stars

 

I’m not sure how it came off on TV, as I heard people on the radio ripping on various aspects of the pre-game ceremony, but from section 522, it was stellar.  Following a strong rendition of “Oh Canada” the outfield was blanketed by a gigantic US flag.  Due to the consistent breeze from the lake, the flag rippled in its horizontal position as Venessa Carlton sang a tender yet potent rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.  The final line of the Anthem and its accompanying cheers were drowned out by the sound and fury of the Navy jets that streaked low overhead, making the towering upper deck a fine place to be.  Well choreographed, well sung, and capped off by the US navy and some exploding scoreboard fireworks -- well done.  I am not a patriotic fanatic by any stretch, yet I was admittedly stirred.

 

As for the player introductions, Bravo to Sox fans for their brash and passionate display of appropriately placed BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOS!  For years Sox fans have been labeled as dispassionate and lethargic because we do not fill our stadium.  Of course, as any Sox fan knows, nothing could be further from the truth, and that is why we boo.  We booed the division rivals because we want them to lose.  We booed the Cubs – manager and players – to fight the popular illusion that everyone in Chicago is a Cubs fan.  We booed our own Manager who, as anyone has regularly watched him over the past 2 ½ years knows, deserves to be booed as loudly as anyone ever.  So BOO FRICKIN’ WHO to Chris Berman and any other out-of-town ignoramus that, knowing little to nothing about our reasons to boo and even less about the plight of being a life-long Sox fan, have a problem with our booing.  Give me a break.

 

The Game:

 

**** stars

 

Could we ask for much more?  E-Loa pitches two scoreless innings, amazing grab by Ichiro, gripping comeback by the AL, plenty of long-balls (but still well-played), Garret Anderson goes off, Baker badly out-managed, standing ovation for Maggs, Blalock takes Gangne deep for game winner, KW made to look a fool by Keith Foulke getting the save, Maggs ends game with nice catch, an appropriate (Anderson), not sentimental (Blalock) choice for MVP.  Good Show.

 

This game was a thrill for Jerry Manuel as well.  He got to sit in the dugout all game and fantasize about how much tinkering he could do with an all-pro squad of 32 players.  The possibilities are infinite! Plus, you are expected to get a lot of different players into an all-star game.  Wow, thought Manuel, I wish I could manage an All-Star game, if nothing else, for the tinkering.

 

But low and behold Jerry, you have to get to the World Series before you can manage an all-star game, and to do that, you must STOP TINKERING!


 

Bradley Josesph grew up in Aurora, IL, but now resides in downstate Bloomington where he teaches English at Heartland Community College.  He became an obsessive Sox fan in 1983 when he was 8 years old.  Brad struggles to maintain sanity living in central Illinois because it is saturated with Cubs and Cardinals fans.  Regular attempts to subtly brainwash his students into Sox fans have proven largely unsuccessful.  Brad’s White Sox memories include being struck in the chest by a Carlos Lee homerun ball and catching two foul balls in one game against the Devil Rays while vacationing in Tampa.  Both of these events happened during the glorious 2000 season, leading Brad to consider himself an instrument of cosmologically orchestrated events that were a sure-fire omen of a division title.  He of course is crazy, but in a good way.  Feel free to contact Brad at bwjosep@yahoo.com

 

More Features from Bradley Joseph here!

Have a Thought about
The Helpless Manuel?

You Can Put it on the Board -- Yes!

 

 



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