What a great All Star game that was. Too bad the announcers didn’t seem to enjoy it. They were too worried about protecting pitchers’ arms and the possibility of a tie game.
There was no way in hell that game was going to end in a tie. It “means something” now just to make sure of that, and Bud Selig would look like a complete jackass (again) if he called another tie. And yet, as the game progressed through the 12th, 13th and 14th innings, all we TV viewers heard were the alarmed grumblings of Tim McCarver and Joe Buck. It’s as if they didn’t realize the Mid-Summer Classic was turning into just that.
(Of course, you can’t be surprised about Buck’s reaction. He was probably ready to go home after the fourth inning seeing as how he hates baseball and all.)
Usually, when critics and consumers gang up on commentators or a TV show, I can’t tell what all the big fuss is about. Shoot, I’ll watch Around the Horn anytime it’s on, and I love SportsCenter. But my stomach was in knots listening to these blowhards ruin the All Star game as they speculated on whether or not Scott Kazmir or Brandon Webb would or should pitch. They talked as if a tie was inevitable.
And the bottom line is: It was distracting. Here we were, locked in a hard-fought struggle. Teams long out of contention had players giving their all for their League and for the sake of winning, and all Buck and McCarver could talk about was Terry Fancona’s instructions to please not use Kazmir if he could avoid it.
And of course, the possibility of a tie.
“This game was going to be played to its conclusion. I hope you understand that. I know everybody understood that [except Joe Buck and Tim McCarver]. There was no doubt about it. All’s well that ends well. It was a terrific evening and I feel pretty good right now. But we were going to keep playing, and both managers knew that.”
This was the game that made Selig look like a genius. “It matters” just because of this this exact scenario. I don’t know how Buck and McCarver failed to grasp that.
Besides, if they wanted to wax wise, they had the opportunity. “Managers,” they should have said, “will have to stop treating this game like YMCA baseball and go back to the days when Willie Mays would play all nine innings in an All Star game. If you run out of players, you’re sunk.”
They could have treated the Kazmir/Webb situation differently too: “We all know Francona and Hurdle have to protect Webb and Kazmir to a certain extent. They’ve both trotted them out to the mound and Hurdle wisely left Brad Lidge in the pen to take over for Webb after an inning. Francona doesn’t have that luxury. If this game goes on much longer he’ll have to put Webb in right field and put a position player on the hill.”
Because, contrary to what was said by Buck and McCarver, the managers weren’t out of options. They had just severely limited their options, but it isn’t unheard of to pitch a position player, and that would have happened before Selig called the game in a tie.
McCarver has already shown a propensity to overlook the obvious and screech foul obnoxiously. During the 1997 ALCS, a memorable play transpired that resulted in two runners scoring on a passed ball, a pile-up at the plate, and umpire Durwood Merrill signaling that the runners were safe and that the ball was loose. Up in the booth, McCarver said that Merrill might be telling the Orioles where the ball was or maybe, he was “telling himself where the ball [was].”
Merrill talked about the incident at length in his autobiography You’re Out and You’re Ugly Too!” (The book sits on my bookshelf.) He also reference it in a chat with time.com.
Umpiring 101, the first thing you learn, if a ball is on the ground, you point it out. That’s to let your crew members know, that if they don’t see you pointing, they think you don’t know where the ball is, and they are supposed to come in then and help you out. But what happened that night, there was a dummy in the press box named Tim McCarver who didn’t know what he was talking about.
A dummy who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. That pretty much sums up both McCarver and Buck.