Late nights with all-stars

Compared to most of my summers, this one has been brutal for me.

Since my switch to working early mornings in the spring, the night life I once knew has nearly been erased. All the things I was used to enjoying at night had to be avoided …

It became a marathon just to finish out the TV season with “Lost” and “American Idol” and all the other programming Kates and I have loved watching together.

Then, once the baseball season started – forget it. I probably could count on one hand the number of games I’ve watched this season. On most mornings now, I’m cursing my work schedule when I get in the shower at 4:15 in the morning and I have to get my sports updates by reading the morning newspaper. Ha, getting updates from the morning newspaper. Imagine that.

But this week, I was set out to defy my early bed time. It’s the All-Star Game, the Midsummer Classic, for cripes sake. And I was not missing it.

(Sure, I figured I could sneak in some afternoon naps to accommodate my move. But seriously, when’s the last time I came home from work and wanted to take a nap instead of doing yard work or cleanup around the house or some free writing. Yeah, I wasn’t taking any naps.)

On Monday night, Kates cooked up some Chicken Salad Veronique (thanks, Joel and Stephanie!) while I gladly stretched out on the couch and soaked up every moment of the All-Star festivities. The pregame show with the “Baseball Tonight” gang. The Home run Derby. And the celebrity softball game, arguably the most fun-to-watch event of them all ... Watching guys like Bobby Knight tower over Shawn Johnson in between her doing back flips around them, not to mention Nelly playing like he belonged with the rest of the Hall of Famers on the field, was tremendously entertaining.

For the record, while everybody else was picking Albert, Albert, Albert to win the Home Run Derby, I confidently said to Kates beforehand, I think Prince is going to win it this year. … Sure, he was a bust two years ago when he only hit home runs in the derby. But I was banking on an older, wiser and more patient Fielder this year, and that was exactly the way he played it.

497 feet. 503 feet. Prince hit like four of the five farthest homers of the derby. The guy was launching ‘em, and it was so fun to watch.

Then last night: the All-Star Game.

I didn’t enjoy watching the AL knock off the NL again … but it was a well-played, gripping and entertaining game. All the makings of a classic. Another gem, although not quite as good as last year’s thriller.

We had Carlos Crawford’s home run-stealing catch that saved the game for the AL. We had some great defensive plays in the infield, most notably by Chase Utley and Albert Pujols. We had a stellar lineup of AL pitchers mowing down the NL hitters. We had Curtis Granderson hustling around the bases for a triple. We had Barack Obama, clad in his White Sox gear, throwing out the first pitch (despite the shady camera angle) and yuking it up with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver in the TV booth.

If there was one thing I was bummed about after the game, it was that Prince Fielder was used so early and as a pinch-hitter … But the more I think about it, NL manager Charlie Manuel probably couldn’t have used him in a better spot – pinch-hitting for pitcher Tim Lincecum in the third. Fielder ended up hitting an RBI-double that gave the NL a 3-2 lead.

One more thing: If Major League Baseball ever makes the players wear universal jerseys for the All-Star Game, I think I'll puke. I can stand the American and National jerseys, the color of the host city's team, for batting practice and the Home Run Derby, as another marketing ploy / money-maker for the league ... But seeing the array of individual jerseys across the field in baseball's All-Star Game is one of the things I truly love about the Midsummer Classic game. Don't change that.

Good reads (Updated 07.17.2009) ...
a Crawford stole the show
a Some good, and bad as baseball heads to break
a All-Star Game photos
a President Barack Obama shows poor form

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