Live from Minnesota: Bombs on the Field, Bombs at the Microphone

I listened to ESPN’s radio broadcast of the All Star Game last night. It was relatively pleasant, all in all.

The main problem was whenever there was a musical interlude. How hard is it to get good singers? This is not a Thursday matinee game in Flushing—it’s a national broadcast.

Idina Menzel’s National Anthem was an off-pitch, mis-timed screech-a-thon. The Air Force fly-over arrived just a bit late to drop a bomb on that performance, unfortunately, which was only bested (or worst-ed) by the laconic “God Bless America” by Joe Nichols in the 7th inning stretch. Nichols’ “singing” sounded like a random drunk with a southern drawl wandered onto the field and grabbed the mike.

One online poster called Nichols’ performance “pure dog sh*t.” That’s an insult to dogs.

These are performers used to fixing their mistakes in a studio—and they fell horribly flat (literally) in a live setting. Embarrassing.

On to the game, please.

Between the white lines, Rod Carew, Minnesota Twin legend, Hall-of-Famer, born in Panama, reared in the Bronx, threw out the first pitch, and it was a strike. Would you expect anything else from Mr. Carew? To show how much the game has changed, Rod actually played and managed winter ball in Venezuela at the height of his illustrious career, something that seems unfathomable with today’s superstars.

In the very first inning, it was Venezuelans to the front. King Felix Hernandez and Salvador Perez—one ESPN announcer correctly pronouncing the catcher’s surname, the other emphasizing the wrong syllable—were the first VZ battery-mates in All Star history. The King did not disappoint, striking out two after an infield hit, then inducing a ground-out to shut down the NL. Perez nearly threw out Andrew McCutchen at third, but the batter got in the way.

It’s worth noting how big modern players are—the announcers mentioning that Hernandez, a pitcher, stands 6’3” and weighs in at 225.

In the bottom of the frame, after Derek Jeter doubled and Mike Trout tripled, Miguel Cabrera out-did them both with a laser of a home run over the left-field fence.

The announcers mentioned that Miggy leads the AL in doubles and RBI—no real surprise there—and he did nothing to belie their statements. In prior All Star appearances, he had slightly underwhelmed, until last night, his ninth game. But he’s a man who is still humble enough, when interviewers are trying to draw comparisons between him, Rogers Hornsby, Ty Cobb, et al, to call teammate Victor Martinez “the smartest hitter I’ve ever seen.”

I was glad to AL smacked Adam Wainwright around. You know why? Because the MLB website often refers to him as “Waino,” which is the dumbest nickname ever. Who calls him that?

The King was one-and-done; the days of star pitchers going several innings for their league’s glory have gone the way of the pterodactyl and people using their turn signals.

Frankie Rodriguez had a good sixth inning for the National League; Houston Astro Jose Altuve drove in the American League’s fifth (insurance) run with a sacrifice fly. In three seasons, he’s played in two All Star Games; one for the National League and one for the American.

Miguel Montero entered as the NL catcher in bottom of the eighth. Cuban fireballer and Cincy closer Aroldis Chapman came in and was throwing over 100 mph. He has 60 Ks in 29.2 innings this season. Yowsa. How does that feel, Microwave Montero? Does your hand hurt? Two batters went  meekly into the Minneapolis night. (This is why this game in tough on catchers—you’ve got guys with wicked stuff, who you’ve never caught before. By way of contrast,Yu Darvish threw a 56-mph curveball, just for laughs.)

John Farrell, the American League manager, made a nice move in the ninth, bringing in an all Minnesota battery to close out the game—Glen Perkins (P) and Kurt Suzuki (C). Miguel Montero got an at-bat and flied out.

It was a cool game to listen to, relatively well-played, most of the players got to see some action, and our Venezuelan stars looked quite all right out there.

Next year, please, no singing.

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About vzbaseball

Writer, Musician, Baseball Fanatic. Lonely Planet, Fodor's, scouring the nation and globe for stories. Big fish, small pond.
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