Like most baseball fans, I prepared for my All-Star Tuesday accordingly. I had my snacks setup, a beer in my hand, and the TV tuned into FOX – I was ready to watch baseball’s best go at it in the 84th Major League Baseball All-Star Game. When the rosters were first announced it seemed like this game was going to be a slugfest. On the American League side you had Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and MVP candidate Chris Davis, who has the most homers before the All-Star break in the history of the American League. The National League had Home Run Derby finalist Bryce Harper, hometown hero David Wright, and several sluggers named “Carlos.” This game had the potential to produce more runs than any other All-Star game in recent memory. In an All-Star Game simulation played on MLB 13: The Show, Sports Illustrated’s ‘The Strike Zone’ predicted the score to be 9-6 in favor of the National League. This was significantly different from the game’s actual final score of 3-0 in favor of the American League.
A score of 3-0 usually highlights some superb pitching, which was more than evident in this year’s game. However, with the absence of big-name pitchers like Yu Darvish, Clay Buccholz, Justin Verlander, Adam Wainwright and Jordan Zimmerman, the squad of pitchers that each side put on the mound was simply boring. Don’t get me wrong, I respect a good reliever (John Franco is one of my favorite players of all time), but in an All-Star Game people want to see the pitchers who win 20 games or strikeout 250-300 batters, not a pitcher who comes into the game for one batter, whose name they never heard before.
I’ve never seen so many relievers and so few starting pitchers in an All-Star Game. The American League sent six relievers to the mound, while only using four starting pitchers! The National League had a better starter to reliever ratio, sending out five starting pitchers and three relievers to the mound, but besides Harvey and Kershaw the National League pitching staff lacked star power. I grew up watching All-Star Games with the likes of Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and so on, but the pitching staffs today just lack the marquee big names that should be in an All-Star Game. Teams used to squeeze as many pitchers into the game as possible and then in the eighth or ninth inning, bring in the one or two best closers in the game. Seeing six straight relievers isn’t what somebody wants to see at an All-Star Game – I can pay a small fraction of the $300+ All-Star Game ticket and see six relievers at Citi Field during a Mets game for $20.
Outside of Harvey, Kershaw, Scherzer, King Felix and Mo, I wasn’t really interested in any of the pitchers I saw. Joe Nathan was fun to watch too, but that’s only because we went to the same school – Stony Brook University. Harvey definitely had the most interesting pitching performance of the game, allowing a leadoff double to Mike Trout, followed by beaning Robinson Cano in the knee, but then settling in to strikeout three batters in two innings. Other than that, there was no pitching performance that made me sit up out of my seat. Both teams only combined for 15 strikeouts, and none of them came from Kershaw, Hernandez or Rivera. The best pitching performance was arguably by first-time All-Star Jose Fernandez from the Miami Marlins, who struck out two of the three batters he face in his one inning of work, but other than avid baseball fans, most people watching the game had no idea who the young pitcher was.
The best performance of the All-Star Game didn’t even take place during play. The highlight of the entire night was Mariano Rivera’s entrance in the eighth inning to an empty field and a standing ovation while “Enter Sandman” played. Seeing Mariano walkout onto the field for his final All-Star performance was definitely a touching moment, but American League manager Jim Leyland didn’t even let Mo close out the game! What better ending could there have been other than letting Mariano get the save for his last All-Star Game? The answer is simple – there is no better ending, but Leyland chose to let Nathan get the save instead. Rivera’s performance was still a good one, making for a quick three up, three down inning, but it would have made for an epic ending seeing Mo closeout the game.
The most disappointing aspect of this All-Star game was the lack of offensive performance. The National League had only three hits, and no player on either team had more than one hit in the game. Two of the three RBIs in the game came in the form of a sacrifice, and neither team hit a home run. The only exciting offensive play was Prince Fielder’s triple, solely because of the look on the big guy’s face after sliding into third. Other than that, I felt like I was watching a Mets game – Harvey starts the game and is lights out, the bullpen comes in and loses the game, and Wright gets one of the team’s only hits – sounds like a Mets game to me.
I appreciate all of the talent that was on the field last night, and I don’t want readers to think I’m trying to disrespect relief pitchers or that I’m not appreciative of good pitching. I greatly respect the role that relievers play in the game and I’m fine with watching a 1-0 game where two pitchers go at it, just not in the All-Star Game. In the All-Star Game, fans want to see their favorite pitchers fan the best hitters in the game, their favorite hitters crush homers off the pitchers they don’t like, and a final score in the double digits. This year, the All-Star Game did not meet my expectations, but luckily this is baseball so as a Mets fan I know of the perfect saying for a situation like this – there’s always next year.
By: Andrew Goodman- RBTS Contributor