All-Star Game falls victim to the sun
It was a dog of an All-Star Game even though the National League won for the first time since 1996 with a boring 3-1 victory. Everyone, today, wants to point at how scoring has gone down since Major League Baseball has cracked down on performance-enhancing drugs. But it's something natural that killed scoring last night -- the sun.
The game started just before 6 o'clock in Anaheim, meaning a dropping sun caused shadows between the pitcher's mound and home plate and hitters seemed helpless in picking up 99 mph fastballs that darted from light to shadow back to light. (Oh, speaking of 99 mph fastballs, didn't you wonder if the radar gun was running a tad on the high side? Rays starter David Price was clocked at 100 mph. Maybe he was jacked up for the All-Star Game, but I can't remember a Rays game when he regularly was in the 98-99-100 mph range.) When Ichiro is looking silly, you know there's something is wrong.
Anyway, let's go back to the 1984 All-Star Game when there were 21 strikeouts, a record at the time for a nine-inning All-Star Game. That's the year when the Dodgers' Fernarndo Valenzuela struck out Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson and George Brett in the fourth inning and then 19-year-old Doc Gooden struck out three in the fifth. Know where that game was played? On the West Coast in San Francisco.
The 1987 game in Oakland was scoreless until the 13th inning and finished with a 2-0 final.
The 2001 game was in Seattle and produced a 4-1 final with only two of the game's five runs being scored in the first five innings.
The 2007 game returned to San Francisco did have a normal score (5-4), but just one run was scored in the first four innings.
We will never know how much steroids are playing a role in lower-scoring games of late, but it is plain to see that West Coast All-Star Games are a recipe for low-scoring games. MLB needs to make some decisions about the future games on West Coast. Should they start them later in the day? Earlier, making it a day game? But something has to change.
By the way, ratings for baseball's All-Star Game were down slightly from a year ago. Tuesday's game drew a 9.3, meaing 9.3 percent of U.S households with televisions were tuned into the the game. Ratings from last year's game were a 10.4