Despite featuring perhaps the greatest finish (and extra innings) of any All-Star Game in history, last night the cameras kept periodically panning over to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, whose face wore an expression much like the one above. The reason? Here are the details:
Going into the top of the 15th inning, AL manager Terry Francona used Tampa Bay pitcher Scott Kazmir, despite a word of caution from the Rays’ organization as Kazmir had pitched 100+ balls on Sunday before the event. Kazmir got out of the inning, but Francona will not reveal the pitch count Kazmir would have been on had the AL not pulled out the win in the bottom of the 15th. Essentially, too, the NL was in a similar situation, as reliever Brad Lidge (had he not allowed the winning run to score) would have been good to go for probably only one more inning. In essence, both teams ran out of players.
Further complicating matters was the “This Time It Counts” mantra, or having the game decide home-field advantage in the World Series (instituted after the 2002 All-Star Game tie). Had the game gone into a 16th inning (if Corey Hart had a little bit more on his throw or Justin Morneau would have been a little slower), baseball would have had it’s biggest on-field PR nightmare since the ’02 tie.
Of course, this topic has been discussed ad nauseum by network commentators and analysts throughout the day today. Here are my quick thoughts:
-Really, the only way to prevent another situation like last night from occurring is to let the starters play longer or save a few guys as bench players that may not enter the game at all. This is how the game was played in its early existence and for many years. Of course, the downside is that a few players may not get into the game at all.
-If that above solution is not feasible, however, I honestly don’t think we should worry about last night’s situation, as it is likely an aberration (how many more All-Star games will go 15 innings?!). For probably the first time in my life last night, I actually felt a little bad for Bud Selig. I liked his new rule that the All-Star game should determine World Series home-field advantage, and it almost came back to bite him.