MILWAUKEE – At every turn, this All-Star game is tinged with trouble.
Tom Glavine pulled out of playing, but plans to follow the progress of a union meeting where major leaguers will talk about possible strike dates.
Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Richie Sexson showed up Sunday at Miller Park – on the scoreboard, at least. In baseball’s own ad, they appeared as crazed, puffed-up cartoon characters, making them look as if they were on steroids.
Even the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provided a rude welcome as the event came to commissioner Bud Selig’s hometown. A headline in the newspaper’s business section read: “For all we owe Seligs, it’s time they left.”
Not exactly a classic fun-fest going into Tuesday night’s midsummer classic.
“I think that we’re in a sport that is as tumultuous as baseball has been for nearly a decade,” former Brewers star Paul Molitor said before managing the U.S. team in Sunday’s minor league Futures Game.
“Being the commissioner of baseball is certainly not an enviable job at this particular juncture,” he said.
“Different storms have made their way over baseball at different times, and he’s the man on top, so he’s going to receive the brunt of the criticism, whether it’s about Yankee dominance, interaction with steroid use, whatever it’s going to be.”
Truth is, the most memorable part of All-Star night might be the tributes to Ted Williams, Darryl Kile and Jack Buck.
Baseball was still working Sunday to put the finishing touches on its remembrance of Williams as a great hitter and military hero.
The Hall of Famer, who died Friday, was always linked with the All-Star game. The Boston Red Sox great played in 18 of them and drove in a record 12 runs, three with a two-out, bottom-of-the ninth homer in 1941 that sent him skipping around the bases at old Briggs Stadium in Detroit.
In fact, Tuesday night will be the 56th anniversary of the 1946 game at Fenway Park, where Williams went 4-for-4 with two home runs, including a shot off one of Rip Sewell’s famed “eephus” pitches.
No chance, by the way, that Boston pitcher Derek Lowe will consider tossing a blooper pitch against the NL to evoke memories of Williams.
“No way,” Lowe said. “I wouldn’t know how to throw it.”
There are plans for a pregame tribute to Kile and Buck. Kile tragically died last month a day before he was scheduled to pitch for St. Louis; earlier that week, Buck died after a Hall of Fame career as an announcer for the Cardinals.
Pitcher Matt Morris was the only St. Louis representative on this year’s NL team, but decided Sunday to pass up playing.
Morris has given big leads in his last two starts, and allowing 11 runs in 10 2-3 innings, and has struggled since Kile’s death.
“It’s just better for me for the second half not to pitch,” Morris said. “Mental, emotional, physical – all drained into one.”
Morris, however, intends to be on the bench at Miller Park for the game.
Glavine, who has been bothered by a blister on his index finger on his left hand, will be absent. Pitchers Robb Nen of San Francisco and Vicente Padilla of Philadelphia were added to the NL roster.
Glavine, the NL player representative, does not plan to attend Monday’s union meeting in Rosemont, Ill. But he’ll be paying close attention to developments, as will all of baseball.
“I just hold out optimism for some reason,” the Atlanta ace said Sunday, “but I have nothing to back that up.”