(I wasn’t actually there)
1) Congrats to Carl Crawford. He made a spectacular play to rob Brad Hawpe of a home run and that alone is probably enough to merit the MVP award. I frankly thought it should go to Curtis Granderson (how often do you see a triple? Plus he scored the game-winning run), but Crawford makes a fine choice.
2) I understand why Beckett and Wakefield never got into the game. Beckett is a starting pitcher and you only really need those for about 5 innings at an All-Star Game. Wakefield is a knuckleball pitcher, and none of the All-Star catchers had much experience catching him before. Putting him in would’ve been a risky move, one that could easily have cost the AL the game if a passed ball or two were to occur. Plus, when the knuckleball is flat, it’s easy to crush, and the NL had plenty of power hitters who could tee off on it (think Pujols, Fielder, Howard, and Gonzalez, just name a few). I also understand that as a fellow AL East manager, Joe Maddon probably didn’t want to risk injury to AL East pitchers for fear of being seen as trying to wear them out on purpose. Having said all that, I still would’ve liked to see Beckett and Wakefield actually get to pitch. I’m sure being an All-Star is an honor in itself, but Beckett is such a fierce competitor that it must’ve been hard on him not getting to actually play. And this will probably be Wakefield’s only trip to the Midsummer Classic, barring another phenomenal start to a season.
3) The AL continued its dominance of the NL, and at this point it’s starting to get a little ridiculous. Why is the AL so much better? The AL hitters are only marginally better than the NL ones, I think, as evidenced by the one or two run differences between the two in most recent All Star games. A serious discrepancy in offensive talent I think would manifest itself in higher scores, even against All-Star pitching. But it’s just a run or two, so the answer must lie with the pitching. And quite honestly, I think that’s the correct argument. Even though he didn’t pitch great, I think Roy Halladay is the best pitcher out there right now, better than anything the NL could muster. And you go from that to the phenomenal Zack Greinke, a workhorse like Mark Buerhle, then Edwin Jackson, then Felix Hernandez. That lineup runs the gamut of hot shot young pitching to cagey veteran. The NL’s counter of Lincecum, Franklin (a reliever I know), Haren and Billingsley just doesn’t stack up. And then once you get to relievers, there’s not much better you can do than Papelbon, Rivera and Joe Nathan. The AL has the far superior pitching, and I think that goes league-wide. Some of that has to do with the AL having more large-market teams (higher salaries), and some of it has to do with pitchers not wanting to hit, but it seems like pitching is just far superior in the AL. Maybe it’s because it HAS to be, with the superior, if only slightly, offensive teams in the AL.
Well, I didn’t get to see most of my Red Sox, but it won’t matter if they get the benefit of the AL win by going to the World Series and getting home field advantage.