By Ivan Berliant
For the first time since 1996, the National League won the mid-season classic and FINALLY regained home field advantage for this years N.L. representative in the World Series.
And apparently not too much of America seems to care.
Tuesday night’s showdown rendered the lowest viewers for an All-Star game EVER. Yes, I said EVER. Perhaps the typical fan is more American League oriented and wanted to see a slugfest, and well after all, “chicks dig the long ball.” But this year’s contest had none of that, and was dominated by much of what we’ve seen for the first half of the season, lights-out pitching.
Personally, there is nothing I like more than a pitching duel, and that’s one of the reasons I will be in attendance for tomorrow’s Marlins game featuring the young phenom Stephen Strasburg and one of my personal favorite pitchers, Ricky Nolasco. Plus, c’mon, it’s STEPHEN STRASBURG… who wouldn’t go!?
Needless to say, I enjoyed Tuesday’s pitching display, which featured some of the greatest young arms in the game. And for those of you who did tune in, you got to see first hand what type of talent fantasy owners have drooled over all season.
Moreover, fans who happened to watch the 3-1 N.L. victory as well as the previous night’s home run derby, witnessed what Marlins’ fans take for granted on a weekly basis– the amazing talents of Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson.
It was business as usual for the Marlins during the All-Star stretch, as Josh Johnson came in for two innings of shut-down ball against some of the most revered hitters the American League had to offer. JJ (as we refer to him here in South Florida) started the fourth inning by getting the Rays’ Carl Crawford to line out to third, followed by two consecutive strikeouts of Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki.
You thought that was impressive?
Well Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero went down in order in the fifth! That’s a stretch of six hitters no pitcher would ever want to see, and Johnson made it through without the bat of an eyelash.
Josh Johnson’s talents overshadowed Hanley Ramirez’s day at the plate, who went 0-3 throughout the night, but I’m sure Hanley wasn’t too disappointed.
In fact, I believe his previous nights work at the home run derby was more than sufficient for Ramirez’s ego, as he just fell short of David Ortiz for the slugging crown. Hanley knows he’s the man and being in a small market such as Florida he was able to showcase his skills to a national audience.
I’m sure his efforts at the derby will resonate more so with baseball fans who might only be familiar with Ramirez and the Marlins due to a well documented clubhouse controversy.
The Marlins still could be buyers in the second half of the season, and with these all-star talents likely locked in the organization for some time (suprising Marlins’s fans I know), I can see the Marlins developing some momentum as they attempt to make a Second Half Push.