It's a bummer that the National League wasn't able to halt its losing streak in front of the St. Louis crowd. But at least the 80th All-Star Game was close and exciting, if not crisply played.
The bottom line is that St. Louisan Ryan Howard, one of the most feared home run hitters in the game, came to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the eighth with a chance to win the game with one swing of the bat. it would have been a storybook ending to see him park one in the right field bleachers. But it wasn't meant to be.
While Albert Pujols seemed to be somewhat overwhelmed by the enormous pressure of being expected to win the home run derby and play a perfect All-Star Game to represent the city of St. Louis, he was a gracious host and he provided one of the best moments of the entire All-Star week when he was seen to mouth the word "wow" in reaction to the cheer when his name was announced. Seriously, the guy is the most celebrated player in baseball and he has heard his fair share of cheers. It had to be something pretty remarkable for him to be surprised by the response.
Yadier Molina and Ryan Franklin did a good job on the field. Molina had a clutch hit to drive in a pair of runs and then scored later in the inning, making him responsible for all three of the NL's tallies. Franklin pitched a scoreless frame... although it was earlier in the game than he is used to pitching...
My biggest disappointment was the fact that more wasn't done to honor Stan Musial. I was expecting something like the Ted Williams All-Star Game appearance a decade ago: Musial on the field with all of the modern players while a video montage played on the big screen. For some reason, all Stan the Man did was ride out in a golf cart and hand the first pitch ball to the President.
I wonder if Stan didn't want the attention or if he was in too frail health to be exposed too long. If the rumors that the Musial program was cut short because Fox TV demanded it were true, it would be disgraceful. But I doubt that's the case because a touching moment with one of the greatest players in the history of the game would seem like something made for TV coverage of the All-Star Game.
All in all, I was suprised by the buzz of the All-Star Game. I truly think the crowd noise -- the murmur in the background -- was louder than it was at the 2006 World Series. And the peak volume of the cheers seemed to be louder too, which is remarkable when you consider there were so many non-Cardinals fans in the stands when Albert Pujols was taken aback by the cheering.
Hopefully, we won't have to wait another 43 years to see another All-Star Game.
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