Posted: Wednesday July 12, 2006 2:14AM; Updated: Wednesday July 12, 2006 11:37AM
Michael Young (right) celebrates with Miguel Tejada after the Rangers infielder delivered the game-winning hit in the ninth inning.
There was, for instance, a beautiful one-hop throw from Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells to Detroit catcher Ivan Rodriguez to nail Washington's Alfonso Soriano at the plate. Picture perfect, a play only a pair of All-Stars could make.
There was a leaping grab by Pittsburgh's Sanchez, playing shortstop, in the fifth inning. There was Boston designated hitter David Ortiz, for goodness' sake, digging out an errant throw at first base. There was Penny striking out the side in the top of the first with heat that reached 99 mph.
And, of course, there was the game-winner, a two-out, two-strike, two-run triple by Texas' Michael Young, maybe the quietest great player in baseball. With his team down 2-1 and men at second and third, Young fouled off two pitches from San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman and ripped the next one into right-center field for the clincher.
Several players in the AL dugout -- well, whoever was left in the AL dugout -- actually jumped up on that one.
"I'm so happy for Mikey," said his teammate, Texas outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. "He's one of the most underrated players in the game. You don't hear a lot about him, but to me, he's one of the best in the game."
Young, to be certain, has put together a streak of seasons that is truly All-Star-caliber. Since the beginning of the 2003 season, the shortstop is hitting .317 and has ripped off three straight 200-hit seasons. He already has 118 this season, too, which puts him behind only Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki on the hit list for that period.
Young may still be a secret to a lot of the country, but his AL teammates were so sure that he would come through for them Tuesday that several of them, including Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, called the game-winner.
"That means a lot to me," said Young, named the game's MVP, "knowing your teammates have your back and are out there pulling for you."
The All-Star Game has come a long way since the first one was played in 1933, and you could argue that it's simply not as good as it used to be. Lots of people do. But if you don't measure it against its predecessors, the All-Star Game is still plenty worthwhile, even without the phony tie-in to the Series. Young showed us that the All-Star Game still can give us plenty of memorable moments.
And from an exhibition game, what more can you ask?