Better late than never (cont.)
MLB controversy count very low
Another never-ending All-Star game would have been a mess. But as it is, Selig had a very small number of controversies to confront at his annual All-Star Game press briefing. His message was that the sport is thriving, and it's tough to argue. This will mark the fifth straight year for record attendance.
And as for baseball's latest blips, well, there really wasn't much to talk about. Here's a wrap-up of the few controversies:
The scout skimming scandal is being investigated by MLB as well as the FBI, but Selig said he doesn't see evidence that it's widespread.
Barry Bonds' continuing unemployment is no plot to get back at the tainted slugger, Selig said. He called his agents' claims of a "conspiracy'' (aka collusion) "baseless.''
The plethora of breaking bats seemed to be the biggest splinter in Selig's side right now. He acknowledged concern, especially for players on the field and in the dugout, who are in harm's way, and said the results of their own testing of the bats would be known in a month or so.
If broken bats are baseball's biggest problem, it's fair to say it's a great time to be commissioner.
Notes from All-Star Tuesday
Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon was wrong to say he believed he deserved the ninth inning. Francona had it right. That was Rivera's time. The Yankee Stadium crowd awoke for Papelbon, chanting, "Mar-i-a-no,''' during Papelbon's one-run eighth inning. Then Rivera followed with 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Even putting aside sentimentality, Rivera has simply been better than Papelbon this year.
Hurdle showed mercy by not pulling poor Uggla, who could have been outplayed by the average fan (three errors, three whiffs and a GIDP made his the worst All-Star performance ever -- or any game performance, perhaps). Uggla booted another ball in addition to the three errors and appeared to be overwhelmed by the moment. Hurdle would have been better off moving Russell Martin to third base and Cristian Guzman to second when he inserted Brian McCann behind the plate than he was continuing with Uggla at second. Maybe it was mercy. But it looked like another example of the NL manager not playing to win.
Ex-Mets manager Willie Randolph, who was there as a guest of the Yankees and the Steinbrenner family, ignored a group of five Mets beat writers who waited to talk to the ex-Mets manager. When Randolph got near the beat writers, he didn't even look at them. And he continued to ignore them as they tried asking him questions. According to people who've spoken to Randolph, he has a lot of anger over losing his Mets job, and a long list of perceived enemies. Mets people seem to think Randolph will wind up working for the Yankees (while being paid the $3 million remaining on his contract by the Mets through '09). But the Yankees didn't give him a job Tuesday, just a seat.
Overheard at the pre-All-Star Game bash out on Randall's Island. The contending Cardinals might even consider parting with top outfield prospect Colby Rasmus, a major surprise. If so, it may put them in line to land Pittsburgh's Xavier Nady, or even Jason Bay.
Also heard: A.L. All-Star starting pitcher Cliff Lee was nearly traded this winter.
Also heard: The Diamondbacks may bring back Tony Clark. They don't appear as interested in Richie Sexson, who still may wind up a Yankee.
Some Yankees people were to hold their own service for Bobby Murcer in a parking lot adjacent to Yankee Stadium at noon Wednesday, the same time Murcer's funeral is being held in Oklahoma. Murcer died Saturday of a brain tumor at 62. As Yankees official Ray Negron said, "When the Yankees were bad, the only good thing was Murcer.''
All-Star celebrity watch: Regis Philbin, Katie Couric and Melania Knauss looked fab in George Steinbrenner's box, while Donald Trump looked like he needed his rest (not to mention a new hair color). Then Trump went home early, as usual. He only missed the last nine innings.