And That Happened: All-Star Game Edition

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If you followed along with our liveblog last night
some of this may be redundant for you, but I kept a quasi-running diary
of the All-Star game and here are some of my random observations:

Pregame

— I really enjoyed all of the presidents talking during the
Everyday All-Stars thing. Obama looks like he’s growing a little
mustache, which is quite stylish. George W. Bush looks more relaxed
than he’s been since his days as the Rangers’ owner, which is totally
understandable. Maybe it’s because he’s living with his dad now. At
least I assume he is, because both him and H.W. Bush were speaking from
the same room. Nice callback by Bush Sr. to the “thousand points of
light” thing, by the way. That’s like a rapper sampling Young M.C. or
something. Jimmy Carter is looking pretty spry. I think he’s going to
break Hoover’s record for the most post-presidency years alive. Very
underrated record, by the way.

— Sheryl Crow did a good job on the anthem. Very businesslike.
Hopefully the message is finally starting to get around that “The Star
Spangled Banner” is not some soul ballad.

— I liked Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst, Bruce Sutter and
Ozzie Smith in their red blazers, though as my wife pointed out, they
kind of looked like real estate agents.

— I also love me some Stan Musial, though seeing him come in via
the golf cart kind of reminded me of Ted Williams in the golf cart at
the All-Star game in Boston several years back. The next time we
thought of Williams after that was when he died and his son froze him
in carbonite or whatever the hell it was. Anyway, it was bittersweet
seeing Musial, knowing that we probably won’t see him in public again.

First Pitch:

— I LOVE that Obama came out in his White Sox jacket. Clinton would
have conducted focus groups before deciding what to wear. Bush would
have worn a bomber jacket or something. Obama is a fan, and no matter
what your politics are, you have to respect that. As for his pitch: Eh,
it was a lollipop job that made Tim Robbins in “Bull Durham” look like
Roger Clemens, but at least it made it to the plate on the fly. Unless
Greg Maddux ever becomes president, I think George W. is going to hold
the record for the sharpest Commander-in-Chief first pitch.

The Game:

— Lincecum plunked Jeter. Or at least so said Dana Demuth. I’ll
admit that my perception may have been a bit, um, impaired due to
pregame festivities at Chez Calcaterra, but from where I was sitting,
it looked like it hit the knob of the bat. Nice sales job by Jeter,
though. But some advice, Derek: next time don’t limp down to first base when the ball was supposed to have hit your wrist.

— Obama in the broadcast booth was pretty sweet. First he hated on the
Nationals, and then in response to a bail-out joke he said “we’re out
of money.” If nothing else you have to applaud him for his honesty. As
is always the case with a three man booth, however, we missed a lot of
action on the field while everyone was chatting. Roy Halladay was
roughed up and it might have been nice to hear someone talk about his
trade prospects and stuff.

— Third inning, and Ryan Franklin came in to pitch. Really, Charlie
Manuel? Ryan Franklin is the second guy out of the pen? Haven’t the
Cardinals fans had enough pandering over the past couple of days? Sure,
he sets the AL down 1-2-3 which makes me look like an idiot, but just
because something turned out OK doesn’t make it the right move in the
first instance.

(rest of the recap after the jump)

— I blinked twice and missed the entire half inning pitched by Mark
Buehrle. I really, really like that guy. I wish everyone pitched like
him.

— Based on the trailer, the “G.I. Joe” movie looks like the worst
piece of excrement ever committed to celluloid. They could have done
better by simply making a live-action version of that multi-part
episode of the cartoon where Shipwreck wakes up with amnesia and is
married with a family and everything. Don’t look at me that way. You know which one I’m talking about.

— Zack Greinke made David Wright and Shane Victorino look really,
really bad. Too bad his talents are being wasted in Kansas City.

— I’m really mad at Ichiro for fouling off the pitch on which Carl
Crawford was trying to steal, because I wanted to see a Molina vs.
Crawford showdown. Nice play by Chase Utley’s in the hole throwing out
Crawford at second, however.

— Jumping to the sixth inning, I feel it’s time to note, once
again, that Adam Jones is the spitting image of Eric Davis. By the way,
the game was humming right along at that point. Just think: if it
didn’t take 50 minutes to get through the pregame show, everyone on the
East Coast could have gone to bed at a decent hour.

— Pujols finished 0-3 with what proved to be a costly error, but he
had a couple of gems on defense as well. Albert: You’ve been a fabulous
host for two days, but the Cards need you healthy and rested for the
second half, so please do absolutely nothing today except sit in a
lounge chair and read magazines.

— Pujols being interviewed by Eric Karros:

Karros: So, does the best player in the game get butterflies?

Pujols: I don’t think I’m the best player in the game.

Karros: Albert, we are men of action. Lies do not become us.

OK, that’s not really what Karros said, but he should have.

— Carl Crawford’s snag of Brad Hawpe’s would-be homer was sweet,
and of course, ended up earning him the MVP. Lost in that was the fact
that Tejada nailed the next pitch off of Papelbon to the wall as well.
Buck called Papelbon “automatic” but he’s kind of scary if you ask me,
even if he is effective.

— Heath Bell is just a ridiculous oversized puppy dog of a human
being. He’s big and choppy and sloppy out there, like he’s with the
Gashouse Gorillas or something. Oh, and he gave up a triple to Curtis
Granderson. But let’s not blame Bell for that. Let’s blame Jayson
Werth, who failed to hit the cutoff man. If he had, Granderson possibly
stops at second or gets gunned down at third. Werth probably took the
roster slot that Matt Kemp should have had. One wonders if Kemp would
have missed the cutoff man.

— Granderson went on to score on the sac fly, making it 4-3 A.L.
with Joe Nathan and Mariano Rivera waiting in the wings. It’s hindsight
now, but when I was watching last night I thought “uh-oh, game over.”

— And it was. Mariano Rivera entered the game in the ninth. The NL
knew what was coming and they couldn’t do anything about it:

— Upton grounded out . . .

— Hawpe struck out . . .

— Tejada popped out . . . ballgame.

The Upshot:

AL wins again, which is fairly depressing for an NL Fan like me.
Still, when you see Mariano Rivera closing it out, you have to
appreciate how the currents of history are flowing these days. In 50
years, people are going to think about the mid-90s to the late oughts
as a time when giants named Rivera and Jeter roamed the Earth, and
games like this one are going to help form the chronicle. To have
interlopers like Francisco Cordero and Brad Hawpe screw with that
narrative simply wouldn’t do, and NL fans have to accept that.

All in all a good game. Brisk. No silliness about everyone getting
playing time. Joe Maddon left three position players on the bench:
Carlos Pena, Nelson Cruz and Chone Figgins. Manuel left Hunter Pence
and Freddy Sanchez. Each had multiple pitchers left. At no point did it
feel like a Little League game, which is more than I can say for some
of the past few years. It felt like real baseball and looked like real
baseball. I don’t have any complaints.

Now, if we can manage through one more day without baseball, we’ll all be OK.

Video: Holliday’s home run a fitting goodbye for Cardinals

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 30: Matt Holliday #7 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on September 30, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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If tonight was his last night in a Cardinals uniform, Matt Holliday made the most of it.

After sitting out most of the second half with a fractured thumb, the 36-year-old was activated from the disabled list on Friday and slotted in as a pinch-hitter during the seventh inning of the Cardinals’ 7-0 shutout. What happened next could hardly have elicited more sentiment had it been scripted:

The solo shot was Holliday’s first home run as a pinch-hitter, and his first home run of any kind since August 9. The triumphant moment might have been the last of its kind in St. Louis, as it was reported earlier today that the Cardinals do not plan to exercise Holliday’s option in 2017.

Prior to the game, the left fielder released a statement in which he expressed his gratitude for the past eight seasons with the Cardinals’ organization:

I would like to thank Mr. Dewitt, Mo and the entire ownership group for the opportunity to play for the St. Louis Cardinals.

I am proud of what we have accomplished on and off the field during the past seven years. I have also been humbled by the incredible support and participation in our Homers for Health program.

It has been an honor to play in front of such great fans and for such a historic organization. I can honestly say it has been a dream come true.

While I’m disappointed this could be it here in St. Louis, I understand that it might be time to move on.

I’d like to express my love and admiration for Tony, Mike and all of the coaches and staff that I have had the pleasure to do life with these past seven-plus years.

The most emotional part of this is my teammates and the relationships I’ve built with some of these guys over the years. Particularly, Adam and Yadi, to be considered part of the core with two of the finest human beings I’ve ever known.

Finally, I’m eternally thankful for the Lord bringing me to the city of St. Louis in August of 2008. Lots of cool stuff has happened since then. On behalf of my wife Leslee and our children Jackson, Ethan, Gracyn and Reed: Thank you!

Angel Pagan body-slammed a fan on the field

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 13: Angel Pagan #16 of the San Francisco Giants argues with umpire Jerry Meals #41 after a called third strike during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park on September 13, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Don’t interrupt Angel Pagan in the middle of a wild card race. Better yet, don’t interrupt him at all.

A fan learned that the hard way during Friday’s Giants-Dodgers game. In the fourth inning, a group of fans ran onto the field with white flowers in their hands, presumably to hand to Giants players. According to eyewitness accounts, one player was reprimanded by San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner, while Buster Posey fended off another.

Angel Pagan, however, took more extreme and inventive measures.

On-field security started closing in on the fan as he approached Pagan, but didn’t appear to pick up the pace until the outfielder dropped him on the field.

Vin Scully, who was wrapping up the third-to-last game of his career, provided play-by-play of the incident.

A couple of kids, trying to steal a moment, slow down the game, running on the field and just taking a big moment on the big stage. They’ve got one of them in right field, and the other one is nailed down by Pagan in left field. And the crowd loved that! They went up to do something with Angel Pagan, but [Pagan] grabbed him and slammed him to the ground, and they’re taking him off the field. […] Doesn’t that bring you back to the ’60s, and the flower children? Oh what, you don’t remember the ’60s? Okay.

The next time you want to send a message to a player, maybe try a tweet (throw in a flower emoji or two if you feel so inclined). Just don’t make a showy display of affection in the middle of a game. It’s bound to go badly, at least where Angel Pagan is concerned.