July 11, 2002
Those who forget the past are doomed to write silly things

Those who forget the past are doomed to write silly things Allen Barra gives the by-now obligatory outrage about the All Star Game fiasco, then veers off into something really silly.

He starts by giving the managers a pass on their concerns about overusing someone else's pitchers, a concern which Rob Neyer discussed in his All Star Game diary. Here's Barra:

Let's not blame this one on the managers. The managers are always caretakers of their owners' investments, and it is perfectly understandable that a manager wouldn't want to risk overusing (or, just as bad, to be accused of overusing) someone else's pitcher. That's why it was the commissioner's job to overrule the managers' requests -- in other words, to overrule the owners' wishes -- and let the game continue.
Fair enough. But while Neyer suggests that an answer to the extra innings problem is for the fans to name an extra player and pitcher for each team, both of whom are only to be used in "emergencies", Barra takes a detour out into left field:
As for what is to be done if future games go into extra innings, I would have thought the solution to be staggeringly simple: Let the players play. I mean, this isn't the World Series; isn't everyone entitled to a little fun? Why not let the fielders pitch an inning apiece until the issue is settled? Call for volunteers among the players already in the lineup: Who wants to pitch an inning?
Barra is suggesting that any player called on in these circumstances basically throw batting practice, but I still can't help but think of two words here: Jose Canseco. Remember how Canseco blew out his arm pitching an inning of mopup relief in a blowout? However much Lou Piniella might have griped if Freddy Garcia had thrown five or six innings on Tuesday, imagine his reaction if Torre had put Ichiro on the mound, especially if he were to complain of a twinge in his arm the next day.

Neyer's suggestion is for whoever winds up as the last pitcher to throw batting practice. Jim Caple advocates unlimited substitutions, so a guy like Barry Zito, who threw all of three pitches in his appearance, could come back later if needed. I'd say either of these is a better idea.

Finally, Fritz Schranck has the funniest bit I've seen about all this. It should be noted, however, that Tuesday was not the first All Star Game to ever end in a tie. Back when there were two All Star Games per year, the second game of 1961 at Fenway Park was called off after nine innings due to heavy rain with the score 1-1. I strongly suspect there was a whole lot less fuss about it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 11, 2002 to Baseball