All-Star Photos by Kenji Takabayashi / MLB.com
Friday, July 14, 2006, 10:48 am ET
Happy Bastille Day to all
Enjoy a fine Bordeaux today to celebrate the storming of the Bastille …
Sorry to again go some time since blogging but that All-Star Game got in the way. I returned from Pittsburgh Wednesday and then we headed to New York late last night. Snuck in a round of golf yesterday morning with Ed Cassin, our traveling secretary, Mike Mazza of our ticket office and Donn Pall, former pitcher and a good friend.
Actually last Sunday I had written an award-winning piece about our starting pitching, context, 2005 vs. 2006. Believe me, it was really good (smirk). But when I went to hit "save", my computer frooze. Alas, the words were lost forever. Little did I know that I would have something like seven hours of baseball to watch later that day.
Talking to players and staff alike after the 19-inning victory, the general mood was consistent. After a while, you just want one team to win to end the marathon. But then after you have played enough innings, you better darn well win it yourself.
"At one point we thought about just challenging the Red Sox to a game of home run derby," one player joked, "but by then neither team had the strength to hit a home run."
So it was off to the All-Star Game Sunday night. Instead of a 5:30 pm charter, we left at 9:00 pm and arrived in Pittsburgh at 11:30 pm.
The Red Sox joined us on the flight. I laughed as Jermaine Dye sat one row in front of Jonathan Papelbon. Wondered what he was thinking during the flight?
Papelbon, David Ortiz and Mark Loretta were all tremendous guys with great families/friends.
Ozzie Guillen met the media Monday morning and announced his lineup and starting pitcher. The room was filled, I mean filled, with people. Ozzie even admitted to being a bit unnerved by all the cameras and reporters.
But he was Ozzie … which by that I mean he was engaging, funny (in two languages) and amazing in his ability to move from English to Spanish and to even translate for himself and others. More than half of the questions were in Spanish by reporters from Latin America.
After that, all of the AL players met with the media.
We were trying to get ahold of Francisco Liriano at this time to see if he could get into town to replace Jose Contreras on the roster. Liriano was in the Dominican, but did make it in time. Too bad he didn’t get into the game.
Monday night meant workout and home run derby. I am not a big fan, so once Jermaine Dye hit, I was out of there, headed to dinner.
Mark Buehrle and his family arrived late in Pittsburgh and he came into the hotel lobby just as Phyllis Merhige and I were talking. He hugged Phyllis (not me) and then headed over to the ballpark to watch the derby.
When he arrived at the ballpark, the guard asked him for some ID. Mark showed him his player ID card. The guard looked at him skeptically. Do you have anything else? He asked Mark. How about this, Mark answered, showing him his World Series ring. The guard let him in …
Now understand, that I have been working in baseball for a long time and I don’t often stop and think to myself, this is pretty cool. I did that Tuesday night. My "job" was to sit on the American League bench and call the press box with any changes to the lineup.
This meant my wife and kids got to see a lot of my feet and hands. My wife chided me for not wearing my ring on the bench.
Anyway, what it really meant was that I could sit there and listen to the All-Stars interact and banter throughout the game … pretty cool.
So, because I thought to myself, this could be a great blog item, here is some of the stuff I heard and saw (realizing I do not want to step on any toes by betraying anyone by reporting an overheard comment):
Ozzie gave his pregame speech, basically saying, "We won’t have any signs. Just play the game."
He also pointed out that this game was going to make the difference for someone in this room. "Last year, it was us. Someone in this room will benefit, so let’s go win this game."
At that, Ichiro stood up and extorted his teammtes with a very specific cheer.
In the dugout
Spanish was the dominant language in the AL clubhouse and dugout.
Guillen worked his way up and down the dugout, saying: "Good luck, have fun and stay healthy. Vamanos."
"I’ll just have to top him," AL starter Kenny Rogers jokes. His first pitch is 83 mph and his teammates laugh at the stark difference in pitch speeds.
On his way out to the field the first time, David Ortiz struggles to find his glove (which features a Dominican flag) and a ball for infield practice. After a quick search, Ivan Rodriguez’s son finds both for Big Papi.
Players are amazed at Vlad Guerrero’s ability to go "oppo" on a high pitch that registers 98 mph. AL leads, 1-0.
"I said ‘He is the only guy who could swing and hit that pitch’," said Greg Walker, our hitting coach. "Joey Cora said, ‘No, Uribe could, too.’ And he could."
AJ Pierzynski sees me and asks, "What are you doing here?" While the seat is great, the view isn’t. I spent most of the game looking at the backs of several Guillens and Cora.
Ozzie and Don Cooper were looking to the bullpen to find Barry Zito, who was scheduled to pitch the next inning. They expected to see him warming up in the pen. Instead, Zito was standing behind them.
"I’m a starter, bro," Zito responded. "I don’t know how to jog in from the bullpen."
Ortiz scoops a low throw at first base, drawing a standing ovation from the AL dugout and a big, big smile from Papi.
Troy Glaus gave a scouting report on NL pitcher Brandon Webb to Derek Jeter. This happened a lot throughout the game as hitters shared info among teammates.
For some reason, ARod and Jeter shared the same helmet for each at-bat. Although each Yankee had his own helmet, it was funny to see these superstars switching helmets like Little Leaguers. Maybe one fit better than the other …
What a dad … when Ozzie Guillen and his family were interviewed during the red carpet ceremony before the game, he pointed to his son, Ozzie Jr., and said, "He’s the Paris Hilton of Chicago."
With two outs and Ortiz at the plate, Paul Konerko tells Cora, "If he get’s on, I’ll go pinch run for him."
"You don’t have the guts to," Cora laughed.
Ortiz did not reach.
Throughout the game, the Pirates scoreboard staff showed each player’s photo a la the Andy Warhol images. Very cool.
Walker walks by me and says (this is true): "Gordon will throw the eighth inning for them and Hoffman the ninth. We will beat Hoffman."
Eighth Inning (I think)
All game long, Jim Thome paced the dugout, bat in hand. When he finally got the chance to pinch hit, his bat shattered as the pitch hit the very end. So much for that relationship.
Before the bottom of the ninth, Konerko walked up to Twins catcher Joe Mauer and laughed, "Settle him (Mariano Rivera) down out there if he gets nervous."
With the tying run on second base, two outs and Carlos Lee at the plate, Cora exclaims …
"It had to come down to this, an ex-White Sox …"
Rivera won the Panamanian vs. Panamanian showdown …
Odds and Ends
I sat down with Ozzie last Friday and he answered several questions about the team and the second half. We sent it out this week as a newsletter. If you haven’t watched, check it out.
Because of your requests, we also now have all of our advertising spots up on the site. Check those out as well.
When I have a second this weekend, I am going to pull together the best AJ lines from last week and let you all vote on the preferred winner. Stay tuned for that.
Sorry for the brevity and grammar in this post, but I am rushing to go have lunch with Art Berke of Sports Illustrated. Art is a huge Sox fan and has promised to bring an SI model to lunch with us here in Manhattan.
Hopefully, more later from Yankee Stadium.
When is the last time the Sox had the same pitcher start consecutive games?