The All-Star Game is now all-DH, all the time


2010 All-Star Game.JPGEver since Ron Blomberg and his ilk ruined our national pastime lo those 37 years ago, the rule has been that the designated hitter is to be used when an American League team hosts the All-Star Game, and that the pitchers will bat when in a Senior Circuit park.

That is no more, as baseball announced a few moments ago that, henceforth, the DH will be used in all All-Star games.  In the AL, the fans will choose the DH. The manager for the NL team will choose who will DH for him. And despite what you think I was going to say about it, I like this move.

The All-Star Game is not real baseball as we all know and love it. It’s an exhibition. Multiple substitutions are made and regular strategy is thrown out the window, so why not give the people what they want (and no matter what I say about the DH, I’ll freely admit that the masses want it). And to be honest, it may actually improve the All-Star Game. As of now, new pitchers are used almost every inning, so they’re always fresh and always firing it in there. In light of this fact, the teams could use all the extra offense they can muster.

Other changes:

  • Any pitcher selected to an All-Star Team who starts a regular season
    game on the Sunday immediately preceding the All-Star Game will not be
    eligible to pitch in the All-Star Game and will be replaced on the
    roster. Upshot: teams will make sure that their best pitchers all pitch on that Sunday, I presume.
  • Rosters will be expanded from 33 players to 34 players, with the additional player being a position player. Let’s call this the “Chris Sabo Rule,” shall we?
  • There already exists a rule that says a catcher who has already played in the game and left can come back in to the game if the last eligible catcher is injured.  That rule is being expanded to cover one additional non-catching position player.

The one rule change that we would all like to see — the elimination of the All-Star Game determining home field advantage in the World Series — did not occur. Given that was basically Bud Selig’s baby, I presume we won’t see that change until he has gone off to Commissioner of Baseball Valhalla.

Cardinals take 1-0 NLDS lead over the Cubs behind John Lackey’s brilliant outing

John Lackey
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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John Lackey flirted with a no-hitter but settled for 7 1/3 terrific, shutout innings to beat the Cubs in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday. The right-hander held the opposition to two hits and a walk while striking out five. Lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist struck out two to finish the eighth without issue. Closer Trevor Rosenthal worked around a one-out walk and a two-out single in the ninth to seal the 4-0 win, recording all three outs on called strike threes.

Lackey brought a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but lost it quickly when Addison Russell hit a ground ball single up the middle to lead off the frame. Russell would steal second base but was stranded.

Opposing starter Jon Lester wasn’t too shabby himself, relenting three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out nine in 7 1/3 innings. The first run came around in the first inning on Matt Holliday‘s RBI single, which followed a one-out double by Stephen Piscotty. Tommy Pham pinch-hit in the pitcher’s spot in the eighth inning and launched a solo home run off of Lester to double the Cardinals’ lead. Lester walked Matt Carpenter before exiting. Pedro Strop came in and promptly served up a two-run home run to Stephen Piscotty.

The closest the Cubs came to scoring was when Dexter Fowler sent a deep fly ball to right field with a man on base and two outs in the sixth inning, but Randal Grichuk caught it with a foot or two to spare in front of the fence on the warning track.

The two clubs will play Game 2 of the NLDS on Saturday at 5:30 PM EDT. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and oppose Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia.

Astros err in letting Scott Kazmir start sixth

Scott Kazmir
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Scott Kazmir went winless with a 6.52 ERA in six September starts. He allowed 41 hits, eight of them homers, in 29 innings, posting an 18/11 K/BB ratio. When the Astros got five innings of two-run ball from him Friday against the Royals, they should have thanked their good fortune and moved right along to the pen.

And they knew this. They must have. Josh Fields got up in the pen after Kazmir issued a one-out walk in the fifth. The left-hander got out of the frame, making himself eligible for the victory in what was then a 4-2 game, but it was still very surprising to see him come back out for the sixth, particularly with the switch-hitting Ben Zobrist (.926 OPS against lefties) and right-handed Lorenzo Cain due up.

Kazmir retired Zobrist, but he gave up a double to Cain. He was then pulled, even with the left-handed Eric Hosmer coming up. Manager A.J. Hinch had committed my biggest baseball pet peeve: he sent his starter back to the mound with the idea of pulling him after his first mistake.

It worked out terribly. Oliver Perez gave up a pair of soft hits to Hosmer and Kendrys Morales before walking Mike Moustakas. Fields then entered and walked the unwalkable Salvador Perez to tie the game at 4. The Astros gave up another run in the seventh and lost the game 5-4.

Maybe that’s the way it would have worked out anyway. Kazmir did give up just the one baserunner. It might not have even harmed the Astros if Perez had better luck.

Still, the thinking that went into the decision was disturbing. It’s always better to bring that reliever in with no one on base when you can. That’s especially the case with this Astros pen, which lacks a double-play specialist, much less a Wade Davis. But anyone in that pen would have been a better choice than sending Kazmir out to face Zobrist and Cain for a third time. Hinch needs to be more aggressive going forward.

Cardinals’ giveaway incorrectly claims ownership of 2001 division title

cardinals logo

The Cardinals have won so many division titles, it’s tough to keep track of them all. At least, it would be tough if it weren’t for Baseball Reference.

40,000 rally towels were given away to fans at Busch Stadium ahead of Friday’s NLDS Game 1 against the Cubs. The towel listed all of the years the Cardinals won the NL Central… and 2001. That year, they tied with the Astros for the best record in the National League at 93-69. However, because the Astros won the season series 9-7, they were awarded first place and the Cardinals took the Wild Card.