David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
KANSAS CITY, Mo.
With everything that is supposedly wrong about the All-Star Game, leave it to David Wright, who suffered one of this year's biggest injustices, to restore some perspective to the Midsummer Classic.
Wright first appeared Tuesday night in the bottom of the fourth, wearing his Mets road grays, and sported a pair of fluorescent orange spikes that made him look like an extra from "Tron."
"I don't think you can get any brighter than that," Wright said.
Wright went 0-for-2 with a strikeout, but played six innings as the National League bashed the American, 8-0, at Kauffman Stadium. The sixth All-Star Game of his relatively young career was history, and being the backup to Pablo Sandoval didn't matter much, as he explained earlier tuesday.
"You wouldn't be where we are today if you didn't say you wanted to start," Wright said. "It would just be a lie. But the system works for a reason and the system is the way it is for a reason and I respect that.''
It was as if the script was prepared by Bud Selig, the man responsible for attaching artificial meaning to the All-Star Game for the benefit of television ratings. Selig has been under fire ever since his controversial decision to use the outcome to determine home-field advantage for the World Series. But the commissioner has no regrets and remains satisfied that it was the best thing for all parties.
"I really like it," Selig said. "There's no perfect solution. There's nothing unconstitutional about keeping your broadcast partners happy and I do think the game has been played in a different way."
Perhaps. But that's not what the players take from it, and especially a first-timer like R.A. Dickey, who initially was upset Monday when Tony La Russa passed him over to start Matt Cain instead. After Dickey pitched a scoreless sixth inning, however, he could barely contain his glee.
"It's been an incredible apex to an incredible narrative," Dickey said. As for being hungry for another, he laughed, adding: "I don't want to think too much into it. But it sure does kind of whet your palate because it's a neat experience."
That's what counts the most. Deciding home-field advantage for the World Series? Besides answering questions on the subject, the players didn't spend much time thinking about it. Before Selig's mandate, home field simply alternated between the AL and NL. Sort of anticlimactic, right? The commissioner actually mocked what had existed before.
"It ain't Einstein's theory of relativity," Selig said. "I mean, what the heck? There's no genius in that. So you take a game that's clearly the best of all the All-Star Games and you give it some meaning.''
What really tangles up the All-Star Game in a web of inconsistencies is the fan voting, as the Giants loyalists showed. Lobbying for reform, however, isn't going to work on this commissioner. "You know, there's no perfect system," Selig said. "I think fans should vote.''
Also, the most controversial elements of the game actually worked out. Sandoval hit a bases-loaded triple and Cain pitched two scoreless innings.
In Tuesday's showcase, um, showdown, Selig's sport delivered. The underdog NL pounded Justin Verlander for four hits and five runs in the first inning and kept piling on from there. Robinson Cano continued to get booed, Derek Jeter got his infield hit and Dickey left smiling.
"He was so happy that he got his shot, his chance," said Terry Collins, who even got to make a pitching change. "It's an honor to be in the game -- period."
Maybe the night wasn't perfect for everyone. But it was close enough.