Inside Baseball: All-Star game needs to return to pure exhibition - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Inside Baseball: All-Star game needs to return to pure exhibition

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Posted: Saturday, July 19, 2008 11:36 pm | Updated: 12:10 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The All-Star game is in need of a fix. It cannot be both an exhibition game and a way to determine home-field advantage for the World Series, the way it is now.

Read Jack Magruder's blog, 'Inside Baseball'

It does not make sense to allow fans to pick the starting lineup for a meaningful game. But there we had it, eight Cubs and seven Red Sox. Great fans. Questionable deciders.

The best thing to do would be to return the game to its pure exhibition form.

Everyone gets to see the big names, even those in decline, and we take it for what it is worth, a nice summer diversion.

But it does not appear that Bud Selig will repeal his decision to have the game determine the extra home game in the World Series, even in the face of mounting evidence.

The American League’s 4-3 victory in 15 innings Tuesday was an inning away from egg-on-the-face ugly.

Both teams were this close to running out of pitching, even after the All-Star managers used pitchers — Brandon Webb, Ryan Dempster and Scott Kazmir — who were supposed to have the night off after strenuous workloads two days before.

The current format puts managers in an untenable situation.

The managers want to give every player the complete All-Star experience, which includes game time.

By the 15th inning Tuesday, however, both teams were out of position players and down to the last pitcher in the building — the Giants’ Tim Lincecum was hospitalized after suffering flulike symptoms.

Here is what to do:

1. Make it a pure exhibition game.

2. Determine home-field advantage in the World Series by giving it to the team with the best regular-season record. Every other sport does that.

LIRIANO SMELLS A RAT

The agent for Francisco Liriano has asked the players association to investigate the reason Liriano has not been recalled by Minnesota after winning his eighth straight decision for Triple-A Rochester. He is 4-0 with an 0.32 ERA in his past four starts.

The Liriano camp wonders if the Twins are trying to ensure Liriano will not qualify for salary arbitration in 2009, which now seems unlikely at best.

“No one is going to tell us who is going to be on our team,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Liriano was 12-3 in 2006 before missing last season with elbow surgery. He has two years and 57 days of service time, and even if the Twins promoted him today, he would fall short of the “super two” threshold for arbitration.

Players automatically quality for arbitration after three years of service, and every year the top 17 percent of the two-plus pool also qualify.

Casey Kotchman (two years, 144 days) and Ryan Howard (two, 145) were the last “super two” qualifiers last year.

ACCUSING MANNY

A former Boston TV sports anchor said the Red Sox fined Manny Ramirez “six figures” for his spat over tickets with the team’s traveling secretary, and went on to say Ramirez took three strikes from Mariano Rivera as payback for his punishment.

The Boston Globe said the fine was in the $10,000-$15,000 range, and the Red Sox dismissed the other charge as pure fiction.

“It’s ridiculous and incendiary for anyone to suggest that Manny would purposefully make an out in any game,” owner John Henry said in an e-mail.

“I think those allegations are unsupported,” said Scott Boras, Ramirez’s agent. “You don’t hear any of Manny’s teammates saying anything like that.”

The Red Sox have $20 million options on Ramirez in 2009 and 2010.

SPECIAL SUNDAY

Baltimore is offering fans two free tickets for an upcoming game if the Orioles beat Detroit today, which would break a drought of 14 straight Sunday losses.

The last time a team lost more games in a row on specific days was in 2004, when the D-Backs lost on 15 consecutive Saturdays. The 1939 St. Louis Browns lost 21 straight on Friday, the modern major league record, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

PARK RANGER

Brad Ausmus has played in 44 major league parks after going to Nationals Park last weekend. Only Chris Gomez (47), Gary Sheffield (47) and Ken Griffey Jr. (45) have played in more, among active players. Ausmus: “When I was growing up in Connecticut, there was only one baseball stadium, and that was Fenway Park.”

SAY WHAT?

“I learned two things. They want Rivera, and I suck.”

Terry Francona

Boston manager, during the All-Star parade in New York City, when fans lobbied for Mariano Rivera to close the All-Star Game in his home park.

LOOKING AHEAD

Philadelphia and the Mets play a midweek series in Shea Stadium, a week after Chase Utley was overheard on live TV saying “Boo? (Bleep) you” following a poor reaction from NYC fans at the All-Star game. Shouldn’t be much carryover, right?

TELL YOUR STATISTICS TO SHUT UP

Greg Maddux, 42, became the oldest pitcher in major league history to steal a base when he stole second against Atlanta on July 12. He still has not won a game since getting No. 350 in May, a winless streak that has reached 12, one short of his career worst.

ROCKIES READY TO ROLLl?

Colorado has 60 of its remaining 64 games against teams with a losing record, a stat that is skewed because all four other NL West teams had losing records at the break and their schedule is division-heavy the rest of the way. A four-game series with Florida is the lone exception.

Writers from around the country contributed to this report

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