On Baseball: All-Star game secondary for many
Forty years ago, the All-Star game really was played by
Back then, 18 future Hall of Famers took the field at Tiger
This year, 16 All-Stars backed out of Tuesday night’s desert
Some are seriously injured. But others managed to play for their
clubs over the weekend.
No matter the reason, the All-Star game has lost some of its
”You only get so many chances to play in an All-Star game in
your life,” the Los Angeles Angels’ Torii Hunter, a four-time
All-Star not selected this year, ”but if you’re not healthy, you
can’t play anyway.”
St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa thinks the situation
has improved from two or three decades ago. After Reggie Jackson’s
memorable home run off a light tower led the American League to a
6-4 win in Detroit, the NL rolled to victories in 13 of the next 14
”A lot of guys were taking a pass. It was really kind of
embarrassing to the game. It’s like an infection that went around,
and now gratefully guys are very excited to go,” La Russa said,
contrasting it with the period in the ’80s when he maintained ”the
American League played it like an exhibition.”
Following the infamous 7-7, 11-inning tie at Milwaukee in 2002,
when both teams ran out of pitchers, baseball started using the
All-Star game to decide homefield advantage in the World Series.
The AL won the next seven, giving them 12 straight All-Star wins in
games played to a decision before Brian McCann’s three-run double
in the seventh off Matt Thornton boosted the NL to a 3-1 victory
last year in Anaheim.
In the eight World Series since the All-Star result determined
who started the championship at home, five of the teams hosting the
opener went on to win the title.
”Homefield advantage obviously matters,” the Giants’ Bill Hall
said. ”If you’re playing in a hitters’ ballpark in the World
Series for more games than three, it would take away from us as a
pitching staff than if another team had to come here. It definitely
To ensure teams would have enough players, each team’s roster
was increased from 30 players in 2002 to 32 the following summer to
33 in 2009 and 34 last year. After some All-Star games, clubhouses
were nearly empty after the final out, leaving the impression some
players already were on private planes home during the late
But larger rosters appear to have caused more withdrawals.
Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, Braves third baseman Chipper Jones,
Mets shortstop Jose Reyes and Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino
are on the disabled list, and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez
was slated to have knee surgery Monday. Milwaukee outfielder Ryan
Braun (calf) missed his team’s last eight games heading into the
break and Philadelphia third baseman Placido Polanco (back) was
sidelined for his club’s last six.
Six pitchers were knocked off the rosters because they started
for their clubs Sunday: the Yankees’ CC Sabathia, the Rays’ James
Shields, the Tigers’ Justin Verlander, the Mariners’ Felix
Hernandez, the Phillies’ Cole Hamels and the Giants’ Matt Cain.
That leaves three especially questionable opt-outs: Tampa Bay’s
David Price pitched Saturday despite what the Rays called turf toe.
Derek Jeter (calf) and Mariano Rivera (triceps) were healthy enough
to play for the Yankees during the weekend.
La Russa, like most managers, focuses on the players who are
”The reason that thing’s so special is it’s a hell of a lot
more reasonable competition than the other sports, and the guys
generally go there to win,” he said.
AP Sports Writers Josh Dubow in San Francisco and R.B. Fallstrom
in St. Louis contributed to this report.