O's Batista enters with big flourish, enjoys stage time

Demonstrative as ever, third baseman contributes key single in 7th inning


All-Star Game

July 10, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

MILWAUKEE - Orioles third baseman Tony Batista has always marched to the beat of a different drummer, and those paying close attention at last night's All-Star Game caught a good glimpse.

He went 1-for-3 with a run-scoring single and made four flawless plays in the infield, but what stands out about his night were two unique little celebrations and that he almost got plowed over during the Sausage Race.

The Sausage Race is a Milwaukee Brewers tradition, and fans at Miller Park are used to seeing four costumed sausages come out for a race behind home plate.

This time, Batista was taking his warm-up swings in the on-deck circle before the ninth inning when the sausage in the white chef's hat came around and nearly sideswiped him.

"It was a scary moment," Batista said, smiling. "Because I didn't see it."

During pre-game introductions, while the rest of the American League reserves stoically doffed their caps, Batista heard his name, hoisted both arms into the air and shook them with excitement.

Batista entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, and singled to left off Arizona Diamondbacks closer Byung-Hyun Kim. Batista struck out in the ninth and flied to right in the 11th.

After taking his position at third base in the seventh, he performed the ritual the Orioles have seen in the first inning of every game this season.

Looking as if he were catching an imaginary pop fly, Batista looked heavenward, raised both arms toward the sky and lowered them in two half-circles. He said he does the ritual to offer thanks to God and ask for blessings for everyone on the field.

"It feels great to be here," Batista said. "I think everybody played good. We showed why we're All-Stars."

Robinson probably done

Montreal Expos manager Frank Robinson, who hinted to The Sun earlier this year that he might like to return for another season next season, downplayed that possibility yesterday.

"I don't want to do it again," said Robinson, who won a Triple Crown with the Orioles during a Hall of Fame playing career. "This is it. I didn't go in saying, `Well if we do good ... ' It's a one-year thing.' "

Ripken honored

Before last night's game, Major League Baseball treated fans to a video presentation of the game's 30 greatest moments. There were highlights of Lou Gehrig's farewell speech, Willie Mays' famous catch, Hank Aaron's 715th home run and Cal Ripken's 2,131st consecutive game with the Orioles.

Mays emerged from center field, Aaron emerged from left field, and Ripken emerged at third base, wearing his white Orioles jersey. It was the first time in 20 years Ripken did not play in the game, but fans still got to show their appreciation, giving him a long ovation.

Ballots will now be available at games for fans to vote on their all-time favorite moment, with the results announced during the World Series.

Two sides of steroids talk

Steroids have become a hot topic this season, but as Diamondbacks left fielder Luis Gonzalez said yesterday, fans had their suspicions before. He hit 57 home runs last season after never hitting more than 31 in a season. This year, he has 16.

"Last year, when I was hitting all those home runs, I weighed the same as I do now - 195 pounds," he said. "In San Francisco, half the crowd was yelling steroids at me, and the other half was calling me stick man."

Williams tribute

For the second time in three years, baseball's All-Stars paid tribute to Ted Williams - although this time it was a much more understated ceremony than the poignant one at Fenway Park three years ago.

Boston Red Sox All-Stars Nomar Garciaparra, Johnny Damon and Ugueth Urbina unveiled Williams' No. 9 painted into the grass in left field - his position in 18 All-Star Games.

Baseball also formally announced that the All-Star Game MVP will be named after Williams, who died Friday at age 83.

Highlights of Williams' career played on the video board before the unveiling, and Garciaparra, Tony Gwynn, Sammy Sosa and Shawn Green talked about the impact Williams' All-Star appearance at his home stadium in 1999 had on them.

At the end of the video, the scoreboard simply said, "Ted Williams, 1918-2002, `The Greatest Hitter That Ever Lived.' "

Awards must go on

There will be Cy Young and MVP awards given even if a work stoppage ends this season.

The Baseball Writers Association of America voted 33-13 yesterday to give out its annual awards no matter what happens with baseball's labor situation.

The BBWAA gives the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year awards in each league. The BBWAA handed out awards after the strike-shortened 1994 season, as well.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Today OFF

Thu. A'S 7:05 p.m. CSN

Fri. A'S 7:05 p.m. CSN

Sat. A'S 7:05 p.m. 13, 50

Sun. A'S 1:35 p.m. 13, 50

Mon. MARINERS 7:05 p.m. CSN

Tue. MARINERS 12:35 p.m. CSN

Radio: All games on WBAL (1090 AM)

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