Every Thursday, the Getting Blanked crew makes a prop bet of sorts with one another having something to do with baseball games over the weekend. Of the three competitors, whoever wins the prop bet is able to dole out a punishment on the colleague of their choice. Typically, that punishment is watching and recapping what we would imagine to be an unappealing baseball game for the neutral observer. We call it: I Watched This On Purpose.

Earlier this week, I wrote a rebuke aimed at those who complain about Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. I chastised the punk rock baseball fans who criticize the Mid-Summer Classic for being too commercial, too gimmicky and too meaningless. It was a giant finger wagging exercise meant to snap those who imagine the All-Star Game to be something meant for their enjoyment out of their delusion.

It’s not for us, I suggested. It’s a marketing vehicle for the game of baseball, for the league, the brand, for everything that Bud Selig spends time and energy promoting. It’s explicitly for the benefit of those who don’t read baseball blogs, don’t understand fielding independent pitching numbers and certainly don’t think about the game’s next exploitable market inefficiency. It’s for kids. It’s for casual fans.

I even went so far as to suggest that if you read Getting Blanked regularly, the MLB All-Star Game probably isn’t for you.

After viewing last night’s game, I wish to amend this previously stated opinion and offer a new one: The All-Star Game, in its current format, isn’t suitable for any living thing. It’s not for baseball nerds, not for casual fans, not for the baseball equivalents of twice a year church goers.

The Strategy

Because I was so convinced that if I watched the All-Star Game from the perspective of a non-baseball fan, it would be enjoyable, I conned my girlfriend into viewing the 83rd Mid-Summer Classic with me. She hates baseball, and while some might imagine this to be grounds for much conflict in her relationship with a person who writes about baseball for their livelihood, it’s actually a characteristic that I love and appreciate about her.

Like someone who only eats mashed potatoes, immersing yourself in one topic can be dangerous to your own personal development, and I’m grateful to her for being able to pull my mind out of baseball quicksand on multiple occasions with her observations on other topics.

She started with good intentions, watching the game alongside me, but by the third inning, she had a paint mask on and was opening up a rather lethal smelling primer for canvasses. “Is that safe to open up in here?” I asked out of genuine concern as my nose hairs burned. “Will the dogs and I be okay without a mask?”

Likely assuming that the game itself had done far more irreparable damage to my brain cells, she nodded and gave a muffled affirmative through the breathing apparatus attached to her face. She took it off to tell me, “I’m still watching the game, just with less focus. I can hear the commentators.”

By the fifth inning, she admitted she had no idea what was going on, and I honestly couldn’t blame her. Either the game, or the fumes from the canvas primer had driven me to a numb state of mind wherein I was aware of events happening, but was rendered unable to express what those events were immediately following their happening.

I remember Pablo Sandoval hitting a bases loaded triple in the first inning off of Justin Verlander to put the National League up 5-0. And I recall Melky Cabrera hitting a two run home run in the fourth inning off of Matt Harrison to make the score 8-0. I seem to remember Matt Cain pitching well for the first two innings, but I had to look it up to see that Ryan Braun also had a very good game.

Overall, the National League got off to an early start and never looked back – never had to look back – as they cruised to an 8-0 victory over the American League to ensure home field advantage for the NLCS winner in the 2012 World Series. Cabrera won the game’s MVP award, with his previously mentioned home run and a single in the first inning, which he came around on to score the game’s first run.

The Game Within The Game

Here are a list of quotations from last night’s game. Some were said by FOX broadcast Tim McCarver, some were said by my girlfriend who has maybe seen three complete baseball games in her entire life. Guess who said what. With the answers at the bottom of the page.

  1. Regarding Pablo Sandoval’s appearance after he hit a triple: ”He’s going to do a panda dance, now.”
  2. “How do they decide which players play on which team?”
  3. “This Dickey character looks old. How old is he?”
  4. Regarding David Price: “He is the best I’ve ever seen.”
  5. Regarding really good barbacue: “Oh, yeah.”
  6. “Panda. He hit from the other side [of the plate] in the first inning.”
  7. “There are a bunch of really amazing fountains in Kansas City.”
  8. “There is nothing teenager about [Bryce Harper].”
  9. “One’s a sixteen inch pizza, and the other is a twelve.”
  10. Regarding Chipper Jones entering the game to a big ovation: “People like this guy.”
  11. Regarding R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball: “It’s a floater.”
  12. Regarding Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan working together for so many years: “What a beautiful relationship.”

The Win Expectancy Graph

Source: FanGraphs
Analysis Of The Win Expectancy Graph

The Dustin Parkes All-Star Game Interest Graph

The Most Important Play Of The Game

Despite Melky Cabrera winning the MVP of the game, it was actually his San Francisco Giants teammate Pablo Sandoval who had the most positive increase in win probability for his team when he hit that first inning bases clearing triple that put the NL All-Stars up 4-0. The base hit increased the National League’s chances of winning by more than 20%.

The Shamsky Award

Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.

Of the 20 position players who got into the game for the American League, Derek Jeter’s one for two performance increased his team’s chances of winning more than anyone else. However, honourable mention goes to Mike Trout who was the only player on his team to get on base more than once.

The Anatomy Of What Justin Verlander Said

After allowing five runs in the top of the first inning, Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander explained his poor performance thusly:

That’s why I don’t try to throw 100 in the first inning – it doesn’t usually work out too well for me. I don’t want to give up runs, and I know (this game) means something, but we’re here for the fans, and I know the fans don’t want to see me throw 90 and try to hit the corners. So let [it go] and have fun.

Indeed, every starting pitcher who appeared last night, except for Stephen Strasburg, threw fastballs at a significantly higher velocity than they normally do in real game situations. However, none reached deeper than Verlander whose season average on his fastball is 94.6 miles per hour, but averaged 98.5 miles per hour on the 25 four seamers he threw last night.

But what was fun about Verlander throwing so hard was that almost every fastball he threw, which accounted for more than 71% of his repertoire last night, was of the challenge variety, high and in (or just above) the zone.

Unfortunately, the strategy didn’t work out, most notably against the more free swinging National League bats, but it was a valiant effort, and one worthy of more consideration than merely suggesting that the pitcher blew it.

The This Is How Meaningful The All-Star Game Is Swan Song Moment

Chipper Jones has let it be known that this will be his final All-Star Game, and so you can forgive Ian Kinsler for showing something short of maximum effort to run down this polite roller through the infield. Just please don’t try to convince me that the All-Star Game is anything more than an exhibition.

The Three Players We’re Most Likely To Forget Were All-Stars

3. Jim Johnson, RP, Baltimore Orioles.

2. Wade Miley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks.

1. Ryan Cook, RP, Oakland A’s.

Why Robinson Cano Big Leagued Melky Cabrera

No, Robinson Cano didn’t avoid the extended arm of Melky Cabrera during his home run trot in an attempt to avoid the boos and get back into the good graces of the Kansas City crowd. In fact, Royals fans seemed as glad as anyone that Cabrera, the player that the team traded away to the San Francisco Giants for the largely disappointing Jonathan Sanchez, had such a great performance. Even though they’ve shared things in the past, this moment wasn’t because Cano didn’t want to upset any of his current teammates.

He tried to give me a high five, and I know this is the All-Star Game, but I don’t want to look bad out there. It was fun, and if it was a closer game I might be having fun. I didn’t want to upset my teammates. We’re playing to win – whoever wins gets to open the World Series at their place.

That’s almost convincing, Robinson.

The La Russaest Of Endings

The last six outs for the American League were induced by five different National League pitchers. And with that, Tony LaRussa is officially retired.

The Interesting Tidbits You Likely Didn’t Know

Justin Verlander became the third pitcher in All-Star Game history to allow 5+ earned runs in a single inning pitched or less. Atlee Hammaker allowed seven earned runs in two thirds of an inning in 1983, and Sandy Consuegra allowed five in a third of an inning in 1954.

Pablo Sandoval, Rafael Furcal and Ryan Braun all tripled for the National League, marking the first time in All-Star Game history that a single team has collected three triples.

Mike Trout became the youngest player to record a hit in the All-Star Game (20 years, 338 days) since Al Kaline in 1955 (20 years, 205 days). It was also the first time a 20 year old and a 40 year old (Chipper Jones) both got hits.

Tonight’s 8-run margin of victory was the largest ever by the National League and the largest by either side in a shutout since 1946.

The Other Amusing Moment

Kids today. They have no respect for fly balls anymore.

Bryce Harper’s miss in the outfield almost made up for the fact that everyone wanted everyone else to know that everything he did last night was the first time someone so young did it in an All-Star Game. My personal favourite though, was him being the youngest player ever to lose a ball in the air at the Mid-Summer Classic.

The Tweet Of The Night

Stray Observations

Jake Peavy was not only the first player to pump his fist in the air after being announced, he was also the first player to immediately regret his action after being introduced.

Billy Butler’s ovation was incredible, while Robinson Cano received more boos. My favourite thing though is beat reporters tweeting at fan bases to get over something.

At the conclusion of the American national anthem, Batman’s airplane appeared over the stadium.

Matt Kemp doesn’t sound anything like you’d think Matt Kemp sounds like, and I’m not all together unconvinced he wasn’t high as a kite during last night’s game.

For someone with the nickname “Dirty,” Baltimore Orioles reliever Jim Johnson is surprisingly clean shaven.

I really can’t understand how millionaire Bud Selig doesn’t have someone in his life making him look a little more presentable.

Final All-Star Game Thought

Joel Hanrahan looks as though he’s on an extended Rumspringa.

The Answers

1. GF; 2. GF; 3. GF; 4. TM; 5. TM; 6. TM; 7. GF; 8. TM; 9. TM; 10. GF; 11. TM; 12. GF.