07/15/2003 12:34 AM ET
All-Star Monday all about long ball
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The day began with Barry Bonds talking wistfully about the prospect of passing Babe Ruth's 714 home run total one day soon, and it ended with a Century 21 Home Run Derby in which Garret Anderson as the best of those players of "the future" that Bonds was content to watch along with everyone else Monday night.
Garret Anderson connects for a homer during the Derby final. (Mark Duncan/AP)
It was Long Ball Monday, and NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Jr. even took his eyes off the Winston Cup walls long enough to watch the balls sail over the walls at U.S. Cellular Field. No one will forget the 14 dingers -- or the standing ovation -- that Albert Pujols of St. Louis rang up in his second round, including that 478-footer that reminded Cards fans of the Big Mac days. But Anderson was too much for him in the final round, adding another important piece of hardware after Pujols' last shot hit the wall and just missed. MLB.com's Sights and Sounds page has extensive video and audio from the event, including Jason Giambi's followup efforts after his 2002 title.
Now it's time for the really big show. All eyes are on the 74th All-Star Game, and participants spent much of the day Monday talking about why the home-field advantage adds new emphasis. Just ask NL starter Jason Schmidt of the Giants, who is well aware that 15 of the last 17 clubs with the home-field advantage in the World Series have won the championship. Mindful of Anderson and those Angels, he said: "Hosting Game 7 last year probably would have made a big difference."
A Midsummer Classic classic
Roger Clemens was one of the most popular topics of conversation during the first half because of his successful pursuit of his 300th victory and 4,000th strikeout, and now the Yankees' right-hander can add another All-Star Game in what is expected to be his final season. Clemens was added to the AL roster as a replacement for Oakland's Barry Zito, who was not expected to be able to pitch after throwing eight shutout innings Sunday.
The Rocket was named the All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player in 1986 with Boston, and perhaps he will go out with another of those awards the way Cal Ripken Jr. did in his final All-Star Game two years ago. Of course, you are going to have a say in that for the first time. Fans can participate exclusively at MLB.com in the All-Star MVP Vote presented by Pepsi, starting in the third inning and continuing through the end of the game. That shouldn't be a problem for fans who spoke loudly and often in voting online for the All-Star starters and then with the etopps All-Star Final Vote.
Selig's Town Hall chat
One of the most popular attractions at the John Hancock Fanfest Monday? It might have been Major League Baseball's commissioner himself, Bud Selig. He held court among more than 1,000 fans there while participating in his third-ever question and answer chat with baseball fans around the world via MLB.com. Selig answered a variety of topics and touched on all of the issues that seem to be near and dear to baseball fans everywhere, including:
Pete Rose and whether he will be reinstated into MLB; whether the Montreal Expos will relocate to Washington, D.C.; whether a baseball World Cup is on the horizon; and whether the current playoffs will include more teams. There were also some oldies but goodies: Whether designated hitters will ever be adopted in the National League or if the position should be abolished altogether; whether players should be obligated to give autographs; whether starting times of major events such as the All-Star Game and World Series could be moved to earlier slots; and whether the Commissioner is in favor of further realignment between the leagues.
Monday was interview day at a local hotel, and MLB.com correspondents staked out each table to provide team-by-team coverage. Want to know why the Red Sox representatives play to win? How did Melvin Mora go from workhorse to All-Star? Check there to see what your favorite stars were talking about Monday.
Lineups are set
All-Star managers Mike Scioscia (AL) and Dusty Baker (NL) announced their starting lineups for this game. Here are the batting orders:
AL: 1. RF Ichiro Suzuki, 2. 2B Alfonso Soriano, 3. 1B Carlos Delgado, 4. SS Alex Rodriguez, 5. LF Anderson, 6. DH Edgar Martinez, 7. CF Hideki Matsui, 8. 3B Troy Glaus, 9. C Jorge Posada.
NL: 1. SS Edgar Renteria, 2. CF Jim Edmonds, 3. LF Pujols, 4. DH Bonds, 5. RF Gary Sheffield, 6. 1B Todd Helton, 7. 3B Scott Rolen, 8. C Javy Lopez, 9. 2B Jose Vidro.
Scioscia met reporters alongside his starting pitcher, Esteban Loaiza of the White Sox, and said he felt honored to be managing the AL stars in this year in which player voting returned. Baker didn't reveal his pitching lineup but did talk about his tough decision to start Schmidt on the mound instead another of his former 2002 Giants, Atlanta's Russ Ortiz.
Until they meet again
As the AL players finished batting practice and gave way to the NL squad, Matsui approached Baker behind the cage and bowed. It was a reunion of their first meeting in early June at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs took two of three from the Yanks in one of the most-anticipated regular-season series in recent memory.
Baker's response: "We'll see you in the World Series!"
Few players were savoring the experience more than Matsui, the Yankees' rookie outfielder from Japan. Starting in the same outfield as countryman Suzuki, Matsui said through his interpreter: "A few years ago, we couldn't have imagined Japanese players in the Major League All-Star Game. But we're playing. It's great. The fans in Japan are very proud of how we have performed here."
Mark Newman is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.