And That Happened: All-Star Game Edition

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National League 3, American League 1: If you cared about the All-Star Game all that much you watched it, and if you didn’t watch it you probably don’t care, so there won’t be an in-depth recap from me (click the link in the score for the game story).  Suffice it to say that I’m pleased the National League won and I’m pleased that they won because Braves’ catcher Brian McCann hit a bases clearing double to plate all three NL runs. For the first time in several years I have a rooting interest in who has home field advantage in the World Series, so this outcome is a good one as far as I’m concerned.

Still, I can’t say the game itself was necessarily satisfying, for many of the reasons I cited earlier this week. I won’t go blow-by-blow on this, but any claim that the All-Star Game “counts” for anything is
negated when its participants make the free choice to do things like substitute in Matt Capps for Roy Halladay
when the latter has thrown only 17 pitches like Charlie Manuel did. Likewise such claims are forfeited when a manager is given a roster of approximately 147 players but can’t see fit to keep a pinch runner available to avoid things like David Ortiz getting forced out at second base on a single to the outfield.

Both of these moves — Manuel’s babying of the National League’s best pitcher, Roy Halladay, and Joe Girardi refusing to pinch run with his lone available player, Alex-Rodriguez — were likely borne of the manager wanted to preserve and protect the health of his everyday player at the expense of making the right tactical decisions in the All-Star Game. My view of things: If the managers tasked with winning the game don’t care enough about its outcome to make good baseball decisions, why should I as a fan be expected to care?

That reservation aside, yes, I watched the whole thing. And yes, I even enjoyed parts of it. Because I was screwing around on Twitter all night I wasn’t concentrating on the play-by-play that much, so there were only about five instances when Buck and McCarver made me want to commit bloody murder. Maybe a new low for them. Despite the overkill I think I want to see that new Leo DiCaprio movie. Overall, it could have been way worse.

Now all we have to do is get through one more real baseball-free day and then we’re back in business.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.