Thursday, July 12, 2012

What the what?

OK, I peeked.

In a moment of weakness and a paucity of interesting TV, I checked in on the Major Leauge All Star game Tuesday — the one I said I never cared for and wouldn't watch.

Bottom of the first, National League 5, American League quickly out and scoreless.

What the heck happened?

Then, like finally seeing clearly into the living room darkness on Christmas morning, I learn that Pablo "Panda" Sandoval, the Giants' third baseman, had hit a bases-loaded triple to right field, 10 feet short of a grand slam (how is that the first bases-loaded triple in more than 80 years of All Star games?) to contribute the lion's share of the five-run inning. He scored on a single.

Melky Cabrera, the Giants' left fielder, had singled in that first inning bombardment, and then hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to bring the National League tally to eight runs. He won the game's Most Valuable Player Award: a crystal bat (huh?) and a new Camaro.

Whichever National League team wins its championship also gets home-field advantage in the World Series, the only real stakes (besides league pride) in the game. The American League gets nothing. We fans get nothing. OK, memories, conversation. The game otherwise doesn't count. The regular season resumes Friday, teams nursing their wounds or stoking their boilers, depending, racing/limping to the season finish.

Today, another dark day without baseball, is the day to think about starting pitcher Matt Cain's getting the All Star game win with two shutout opening innings, allowing one hit; catcher Buster Posey's first inning walk to contribute to the scoring (and spending the rest of the game in the bullpen helping warm up each of the All Star pitchers); to consider that at the start of the game, four of the nine National League players were Giants. Today is time to wonder what it might mean for the Giants the rest of the season.

Maybe momentum, maybe nothing. Tomorrow, against the Houston Astros, will tell. Saturday, when the wonder-inducing wunderkind Tim Lincecum makes his next start on the mound, will really tell.

By the way, you probably missed out on buying the official bat to commemorate Matt Cain's perfect game June 13. For $99.95 plus shipping, you could have bought it, but the 2,012 bats have already been sold. It's not clear to me why a bat would memorialize a perfect game, the essence of which is the absence of bats.

You can still buy the commemorative ball in its dust-collecting case for $89.95, just 2,012 made. Hurry, operators are standing by!

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