Comeback kid Hamilton not the only All-Star story worth watching
NEW YORK --
Having just electrified the Stadium crowd by launching a record 28 home runs in the first round of the Home Run Derby, Hamilton was understandably tired, but he, like so many who had just watched him write the latest chapter in his remarkable comeback story, was amazed too. Told that three of his 28 moon shots had traveled more than 500 feet, Hamilton's eyes grew wide. "Really?" he said. "Holy cow."
Of course, Hamilton won't be the only story worth following on Tuesday night. Here are four more compelling plotlines:
The American League has not lost an All-Star Game since 1996, when Hamilton had just finished his freshman year of high school. Ten wins (and one tie) later, the junior circuit shows no signs its winning streak will end this year. During the recently completed interleague play the AL went 149-103, its fifth straight win in the "competition" and the second-largest margin ever. Only one player who will be in uniform for the senior circuit on Tuesday night, Atlanta's
"We know there's a lot of talent in that other clubhouse," said Minnesota Twins catcher
American League manager
In other words, Francona has at his disposal a litany of pitchers entirely used to chugging out of the bullpen to pitch one inning against three top-notch hitters. Shortening the game usually means getting to the late innings. In this case, the NL had better be in front after three, or it could be over.
When the Yankees move across the street next year to their new ballpark, trucking all their ghosts and monuments and retired jerseys with them, they would be wise to leave room for a few additions in the rapidly approaching future, one for
With all due respect to Rivera and that other Yankees All-Star (Alex Somethingorother), New York has been Jeter territory for more than a decade. Unfortunately for the fans to whom Jeter means so much and who voted him into the starting lineup, his ninth All-Star selection is perhaps his most undeserving. Though the debate about his worthiness will never truly be solved using numbers alone, it's clear that he is having the worst season of his career, with a .284 average, a .345 on-base percentage and a .395 slugging percentage, all of which are career lows and trail the AL's other shortstop,
Yet all of that is sure to be forgotten the first time Jeter strides to the plate in his ballpark. Only two players have won the All-Star MVP award in their home stadium (
Hey, have you heard: The winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series. Still, for all of Major League Baseball's best efforts to give an exhibition game a faux meaning that it neither needs nor deserves, the first five years of this experiment have yet to provide an adequate payoff for gaining that supposedly sacred advantage. In 2003 the visiting Marlins won Game 6 of the World Series in the very Yankee Stadium where this game will be played, and since then no Series has gone long enough for it to return to the city in which it began in (the Red Sox, in 2004 and '07, and the White Sox in '05 finished sweeps of their overmatched NL foes on the road, while the '06 Cardinals needed just five games to brush past the Tigers).
"We play this game for the championship ring," said NL manager
The players may need just such a lesson.