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All-Star Game thoughts

           The All-Star Game is a Midsummer Classic, and celebration of the game but in the midst of the party everyone in baseball is aware of the recession.

            “It’s a source of great concern,’’ commissioner Bud Selig said. “There’s no question the gas price situation and the economy picture is very bleak, and I worry a lot about it. So far, we’re OK.

“I’ve had a theory in the past - and it’s just a theory and there is no evidence to support this -- that there are probably less vacations because of the aforementioned things.

“It’s been true in other recessions since I’ve been in baseball -- from the late ‘60s on -- that we seem to do OK and not be affected as much. But I’m not saying this time that’s going to happen. I am concerned about it.’’

Selig, speaking to the Baseball Writers Association of America, defended his decision to use the winner of the All-Star Game to determine home field advantage in the World Series, and said he wouldn’t consider letting interleague play determine which league gets the home field in the Series.

“This is more dramatic,’’ Selig said of the All-Star Game being the deciding factor. “No one is going to be sitting on the edge of their seat watching that last interleague game. I don’t like the interleague (format). It’s not very dramatic or exciting.’’

Selig, who is an opponent of instant replay, said there was a chance there could be some form of instant replay – boundary calls on home runs -- in the postseason.

“We’re hard at work. We are looking at it intensely,’’ he said. ‘And once we are convinced the bugs are out, it will come quickly. So, there is a chance, if we agree to it, it could be before the postseason.’’

ODDS AND ENDS

Yankee Stadium was the star of the All-Star Game, because it is the final All-Star Game at what Selig called “the most famous sports cathedral in the world.’’ If the Yankees don’t get to the World Series this year, then the final World Series game in the history of Yankee Stadium will be the Marlins’ 2-0 Game 6 victory that gave Florida the 2003 World Series title.

            The Marlins had two players in the All-Star Game in Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez, who became the first Marlin to start an All-Star Game since Gary Sheffield (1997), but they also had two former Marlin players, San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez and Cubs starter Ryan Dempster. There were more Marlins managers on the field than from any other club. Jim Leyland and Joe Girardi were coaches for the AL.

Dempster knows why the AL has won every All-Star Game since 1996.

“The American League has been using corked bats,’’ he said with a straight face. “We’re going to cut them open this time.’’

            Ryan Braun, a former star that the University of Miami, was second in the overall voting in the NL, and became the first Milwaukee outfielder ever voted to the All-Star team.

“It meant everything to me to be named to the All-Star Game,’’ said Braun, who played in only 113 games last year as a rookie, but has 57 career home runs. “I didn’t have (a timetable) for getting to the All-Star Game, but as soon as I got to the big leagues my goal was to get to the All-Star Game.’’

            

The Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series in 100 years, tied an All-Star record by placing eight Cubs on the NL team. There have not been that many Cubs in Yankee Stadium since 1938 – the last time they played the Yankees in the World Series. Geovany Soto was the first Cubs catcher to start an All-Star Game since Gabby Harnett started in 1937.

Soto has no idea what the Homer in the Gloamin' was.

How good was 71-year-old batting practice pitcher Clay Counsil, who came in from North Carolina to pitch to Josh Hamilton in Monday’s Home Run Derby?

“He’s the best I’ve ever seen,’’ said Colorado bullpen catcher Mark Strittmatter, who was the catcher during the Home Run Derby. “He’s 71, and every pitch was right there.’’

Hamilton, who set a derby record by hitting 28 homers in the first round, was overwhelmed by the crowd, which stood on its feet and chanted his name.

“That was the most unbelievable moment in my life,’’ Hamilton said.

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