Dan Schlossberg's Weekend Report: Wainwright weakened All-Star Game • Latino Sports

Baseball

Dan Schlossberg’s Weekend Report: Wainwright weakened All-Star Game

on

Should the St. Louis Cardinals lose Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, they can blame Adam Wainwright.

The front-runner for this year’s National League Cy Young Award — treating the All-Star Game like a spring exhibition game — threw a first-inning meatball to Derek Jeter that sparked a three-run explosion and lost the game.

Jeter jolted two hits in two trips during last All-Star Game. Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Jeter jolted two hits in two trips during last All-Star Game.
Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Yes, Jeter was there strictly as a sentimental favorite. And Wainwright was pitching rather than Clayton Kershaw because his own manager, Mike Matheny, decided to go with his sentimental favorite.

Never mind that Wainwright had worked seven innings Saturday night or that Kershaw, seeking his third Cy Young Award, was ready and rested.

Jeter, the 40-year-old captain of the New York Yankees, was playing in his last All-Star Game and Wainwright wanted him to leave on an upbeat note.

Before the pitcher could blink, Jeter doubled, Mike Trout tripled, and Miggy Cabrera homered to give the American League a 3-0 lead. Even though the Nationals eventually tied it, those three first-inning runs spelled the margin of difference in a 5-3 AL triumph.

That win gave the Junior Circuit the home-field advantage in the World Series thanks to a Bud Selig rule that the winning league gets the odd game in the best-of-seven series.

Bud Selig presided over his last All-Star Game as Commissioner of Baseball Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Bud Selig presided over his last All-Star Game as Commissioner of Baseball
Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Since the team with that advantage wins three of every four Fall Classics, Wainwright hurt his own league, if not his own team, by coddling Jeter.

Although the shortstop later collected another hit, giving him a .418 All-Star batting average for his career, I wonder how players from the other NL contenders felt about it. Nobody wanted to spoil the night, criticize a teammate, or condemn the silly rule — originally imposed to salvage sinking All-Star Game television ratings.

Before fan voting for All-Stars started in 1970, the home-field rule might have meant something because the All-Star Game meant something. Warren Giles, then president of the National League, always implored his stars to play hard and win simply to protect the pride of the NL.

In these days of interleague play, however, league divisions have evaporated into cyperspace. There are no separate umpiring staffs, no separate records for interleague games, and no league presidents. Everything operates under the monopoly that is Major League Baseball.

With both Jeter and Selig retiring after this season, the 2014 All-Star Game degenerated into a social event with a myriad of major sponsors. The element of competition between leagues was largely forgotten. Just ask Adam Wainwright.

Elsewhere around the majors:

Joe Torre's Yankee years elevated him to Hall of Fame status

Joe Torre’s Yankee years elevated him to Hall of Fame status

Celebrating his 74th birthday with a media conference call Friday, new Hall of Famer Joe Torre inadvertently reminded listeners of the “CLUELESS JOE” headlines that greeted his 1995 appointment as Yankees manager. “I have no clue what I’m going to feel like and no clue how I’m gonna start my comments,” he said, “but I have a feeling by the time Induction Sunday rolls around, I’ll have a pretty good idea.” . . .

Landing All-Star closer Huston Street from the San Diego Padres was a coup for the Los Angeles Angels, who are closing fast on the front-running Oakland Athletics in the American League West . . .

Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, who plans to attend next weekend’s inductions, says the hardest thing about giving an acceptance speech is editing the long list of people to thank — especially true with six men going in this year . . .

J.J. Niekro, son of the late Joe Niekro, is a college player with pro potential, Uncle Phil says . . .

Released Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski was apparently such a bad clubhouse presence that several teammates complained to management about him . . .

Evan Gattis, the biggest bat in the Atlanta lineup, returns from a 3-week back problem Monday

Evan Gattis, the biggest bat in the Atlanta lineup, returns from a 3-week back problem Monday

Atlanta slugger Evan Gattis, out for three weeks with a bulging disc in his back, is expected to return to the run-starved lineup Monday . . .

Expect a battle of the birds for the AL East title as the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays head into the second half . . .

The St. Louis Cardinals are front-runners in the race to land Red Sox starter Jake Peavy, a one-time National League standout in San Diego . . .

Radio broadcaster Jason Hyman predicts that 200,000 people will swamp Cooperstown for Induction Weekend, which never drew more than 83,000 (Ripken-Gwynn) before . . .

Jay Smith of Sports Travel and Tours, official tour operator of the Hall of Fame, will fit more than 800 clients into 16 buses . . .

If the Los Angeles Dodgers land lefty David Price from Tampa Bay, their Big Three of Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Price should be unbeatable in the best-of-five Division Series . . .

David Price would make the Dodgers unstoppable in October Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

David Price would make the Dodgers unstoppable in October
Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Good luck to Dan Uggla, the good-guy second baseman whose bat suddenly went south in Atlanta but hope to finds new life in San Francisco . . .

With CC Sabathia out for the year after knee surgery and Masahiro Tanaka requiring six weeks of rest in the hope of avoiding Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman claims he’ll be aggressive in the two weeks he has left before the July 31 deadline for non-waiver trades.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

Recommended for you