Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lighting Up The Night

To say that the game itself is the least interesting part of the All-Star Festivities is probably an understatement. The game rarely, if ever, lives up to the hype; I can only remember a handful of games that might have generated some excitement. They tend to be disjointed, sleepy affairs, certainly not for the short-attention span generation. Recent years have seen me become bored and tune out the game entirely, usually after the 4th or 5th inning, or whenever the Mets representatives had already played.

This year's affair held more juice than normal, if only because it was at Citi Field, my home ballpark, and much of the pomp and circumstance would basically be in my backyard. This wasn't like in 2008, when the whole thing was basically a Yankee lather job. This was the Mets moment in the sun, Citi Field's night to shine. Of course, the game was a dud overall, a 3-0 American League victory that featured great pitching, and more great pitching, and even more great pitching, and little else. But if nothing else, the hosts held up their end of the bargain.

You knew Matt Harvey would be cranked up for this particular start (and probably looking for a little more recognition), especially after the roaring ovation he received upon his introduction. But he nearly had his wheels come off in the 1st after allowing a leadoff double to Mike Trout and then hitting Robinson Cano (who was nice enough to not bother getting out of the way of Harvey's tailing fastball, but Harvey, ever gracious, apologized afterward), but Harvey, who has made a habit of not breaking, struck out Miguel Cabrera and, one out later, Jose Bautista to get out of the inning untarnished. His second inning was spotless, featuring a strikeout of Adam Jones, and thusly, his evening was done after two innings, allowing one hit and striking out 3, which was more or less a normal outing for him (you know, without the hype and getting pulled after 2 innings).

Unfortunately, the National League couldn't muster any runs for Harvey, which has been a recurring theme for him this year. In fact, the NL managed all of 3 hits against the AL. But, one of them was by the All Star Game's de facto Master of Ceremonies, David Wright, who has a habit of getting at least one hit every time he plays in an All Star Game, kept his streak going with a 7th inning single that ended up being of little consequence.

And then, there was Citi Field. The Mets had last hosted an All Star Game in 1964, the first year at Shea Stadium. As a kid, I wondered when, or if, there would ever be another at Shea. As I got older, I realized why there never was: most stadiums were now these shimmering new palaces. Shea Stadium was what it was. Our loveable blue blob. Magnificent in its time, but lacking in pizzazz. The All Star Game needs some pizzazz (usually because the game stinks). Citi Field debuted in 2009 with that pizzazz and, in its 5th season, hosted its first All Star Game. And although I wasn't there because I wasn't approved for a loan, it seemed to me that Citi Field did not disappoint as host. The Mets fans were out in full force, giving the representatives of the Phillies, Braves, Nationals and Yankees their well-deserved jeers (Jose Fernandez of the Marlins didn't appear to draw much of a reaction, probably because he's young and he hasn't pissed us off yet). David Wright, Matt Harvey, Terry Collins and Davey Johnson were given their much-deserved heroes' welcomes. Even departed players Carlos Beltran and Carlos Gomez received warm welcomes. The park looked great, it played fair and a fine time appeared to be had by all.

Now, will it be another 49 years before the Mets host another All Star Game?

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