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Good game turning ugly



Published: Sun, July 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Can you imagine someone who hates major league baseball doing a better job of sabotaging the game than what its caretakers have done over the past 10 days?

Even when baseball officials do things right, they find a way to kill the mood.

Take the pregame tribute before Tuesday's All-Star Game. In about 25 glorious minutes, baseball recounted many of the sport's greatest moments, from Bill Mazeroski's and Joe Carter's World Series-winning homers to Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th homer to Cal Ripken's lap around Camden Yards after breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive-game streak.

Fans were reminded that Reggie Jackson sent three over the fence in the final game of the 1977 World Series, Bill Buckner kept the "Curse of the Bambino" alive in 1986 and Jack Morris tamed the Braves for 10 innings in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

And how could anyone not feel chills when Aaron was introduced to his former hometown?

Entertaining game

What followed was a fairly entertaining game, from Torii Hunter robbing Barry Bonds of a first-inning homer to Omar Vizquel's game-tying triple in the eighth inning.

Joining Fox broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were half-inning guests Bob "Mr. Baseball" Uecker and the Tigers' legendary broadcaster, Ernie Harwell.

All-Star managers Joe Torre and Bob Brenly wore microphones and chatted constantly with Buck and McCarver.

For about four hours, middle-aged baseball fans were reminded of why we still love the game even though the owners and players can't agree on how to divide up billions of our dollars, steroid rumors are running rampant and ticket prices have skyrocketed.

Cinderella's ball ended abruptly when Torre and Brenly used up all 30 of their players, prompting Commissioner Bud Selig to call the game a 7-7 draw after 11 innings.

A draw? On national television?

Bud shrugged -- what's a hometown commissioner to do?

Now to you and I at home, the game ending in a tie really doesn't matter. But if you had been one of those Milwaukee fans who paid $175 or more for your ticket, you have a right to feel cheated.

The All-Star tie wasn't the only recent moment that made baseball officials shudder.

Last Monday, Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi said it "sickens" him that when a bulked up player hits a home run or goes on the disabled list, some fans say it's because of steroids.

Take the test

Here's a cure for what ails you -- if baseball players truly want to convince their paying customers that they are clean, the solution is simple. Tell players union president Donald Fehr to stop opposing random year-round drug tests. Then take them. Often.

After the Yankees acquired outfielder Raul Mondesi and pitcher Jeff Weaver for peanuts, owner George Steinbrenner defended his pursuit of winning through baseball's largest payroll ($140 million).

King George is tired of people complaining about how the Yankees spend more than any other team.

The Boss has a point -- what's to stop the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox from also picking off overpaid castoffs from struggling teams that never had a chance for this postseason?

Spending works for George. No team is more popular or successful in today's wacky economic climate.

Wouldn't it be something if the Yankees traded for Jim Thome just to keep him out of a Red Sox uniform?

Bonds has a solution for our complaints. The Giants slugger says fans unhappy about players salaries should join the party by becoming professional baseball players. There's a memorable moment to cherish.

XTom Williams is a sportswriter for The Vindicator. Write him at williams@vindy.com.




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