Excuse manager Tony La Russa for only briefly celebrating Cal Ripken's game-winning three-run homer in the American League's 4-2 All-Star victory last night in Toronto.
You see, Oakland is the next stop for Ripken and the Orioles, and after seeing Cal hit 12 homers in a contest Monday and the game-winner in the third inning last night that traveled 416 feet, the A's manager knows just how well he's swinging the bat.
"My thought now is that the game is over, so we have to start getting him out Thursday," La Russa said. "That takes some of the enjoyment out of this game."
For Ripken, last night's MVP award was just another smile in a season of enjoyment. The Orioles shortstop came into the All-Star break leading the AL in hitting (.348) and among the leaders in home runs (18) and RBIs (54). Even Monday's home run-hitting contest, which Ripken was initially wary of, worked to his advantage.
"In batting practice, when you try to hit home runs, you can get in bad habits," said Ripken, who went 2-for-3 with his first RBIs in nine All-Star appearances. "In retrospect, though, the home run-hitting contest worked out well. It made me relax, and the game was just fun."
Even La Russa had to admit it was fitting.
"It was a perfect match," La Russa said. "You have a great player having a great year. And what does he do? Great things."
For complete All-Star Game coverage, see Sports (Section E).