Game stoppage: 7-7 tie

Baseball opts to call game after 11th inning, creating 2nd tie in All-Star history

AL and NL run out of pitchers

Selig: `This is not ending that I had hoped for'

Bonds, Soriano hit HRs

All-star Game

July 10, 2002|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

MILWAUKEE - The 73rd All-Star Game had everything you could want in a midsummer classic - lots of runs, lots of hits and a couple of bonus innings, which isn't bad when you paid up to $175 for your seat.

What it didn't have was an outcome.

The game went into extra innings and both the American and National League teams ran short of pitching, prompting hometown baseball commissioner Bud Selig to huddle with the managers and umpires in the middle of the 11th inning and order the game to be called after 11 with the score tied 7-7.

The announcement was made over the public-address system at Miller Park in the bottom of the 11th, as the National League tried in vain to scratch out a decisive run. The sellout crowd of 41,871 booed loud and long, then broke into a lusty chant.

"Let them play! Let them play!"

No such luck.

What a perfect allegory for a season threatened by a possible work stoppage.

The one baseball event that is devoted almost entirely to the fans was called off after a meeting of baseball management.

Too bad, because it really was an entertaining evening. There were 25 hits, including a home run and a near miss by Barry Bonds, but there was no All-Star MVP for the first time since the award's inception in 1962.

"I want to take this opportunity to apologize to the fans that are here," Selig said after the second tie in All-Star history. "Obviously their unhappiness was understood by all of us, but in the middle of that inning, both Joe Torre and Bob Brenly came to me and said they were out of players, they were out of pitchers."

Poor Selig. He waited years to unveil his new stadium and play host to the All-Star Game in his hometown, only to see it turn into a public relations disaster.

"In your wildest dreams, you would not have conceived that this game would end in a tie," Selig said. "But given the health of the players and where they were, frankly, at that point I had no choice."

Selig is certain to receive criticism for the decision, but it was made in consultation with the two managers as well as Sandy Alderson, Major League Baseball's vice president of baseball operations. Torre and Brenly both jumped to Selig's defense after the game.

"The last thing I want to do is get a pitcher hurt," Torre said, "and send [the Seattle Mariners'] Freddy Garcia back to Lou Piniella hurt. We all dread something like this happening. That's why you save a pitcher. I apologize, but in making the plan to play the All-Star Game, getting all the players into the game was very important to me."

Hundreds of fans remained in the stands after the game, shouting protests and chanting "Bud must go!" But the players sided with management on this unpopular decision.

"It was a bad move for the fans and the players," said Orioles third baseman Tony Batista, "but I think we understand."

Minnesota Twins center fielder Torii Hunter, who electrified the crowd with a fabulous catch to rob Bonds of a home run, also agreed that calling the game was the right thing to do.

"You've got to think about the players," Hunter said. "You don't want guys getting hurt. I think it was a pretty good call."

All 60 All-Stars had appeared in the game. The pitching staffs had been exhausted, leaving Garcia on the mound indefinitely for the American League and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Vicente Padilla in the same situation for the National League. Brenly was concerned about Padilla going any further because he had struggled to get loose before entering the game.

"These organizations and their managers entrust us with their players," Brenly said, "and the last thing we want to do is send home a guy who is not going to be able to compete for the ballclub that's paying his salary and expecting him to go out there and perform for his home fans."

In the aftermath, Selig speculated that the All-Star rules may have to be changed to prevent something similar from happening again.

"We'll have to review whether to expand rosters or do other things," he said. "That's something that we will have to discuss so we avoid this. This is not the ending that I had hoped for."

This year's All-Star celebration already was tarnished by a lingering steroid scandal and growing labor unrest, but baseball's storied history was on full display in a lengthy pre-game ceremony that celebrated the sport's greatest moments and many of the players who took part in them.

The crowd didn't have to wait long for the game's first magic moment. Bonds launched a towering drive to right-center field in the first inning that seemed destined for the American League bullpen, but Hunter made a leaping catch to rob him - at least temporarily - of his second career All-Star home run.

Bonds, who was not a factor in Monday night's Home Run Derby, accepted this latest setback in good humor. He waited for Hunter to come in from the outfield and playfully hoisted him onto his shoulders to the delight of the fans.

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