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1999 MLB All-Star Game

All-Star Notebook

Green Monster escapes unscathed

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Posted: Wednesday July 14, 1999 01:57 AM

  Nomar Garciaparra (right) and Derek Jeter are part of an elite group of AL shortstops that includes Alex Rodriguez and Omar Vizquel. AP

BOSTON (AP) -- With Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa starring for the National League, Tuesday night's All-Star game was expected to be an assault on Fenway Park's cozy confines.

It didn't turn out that way.

The pitchers dominated the game, striking out an All-Star record 22 batters while allowing 13 hits and no homers. AL pitchers fanned 12 batters and NL pitchers fanned 10.

McGwire and Sosa, the stars of last year's home run race with 70 and 66 homers respectively, each struck out twice.

"I hit some good yesterday," said McGwire, who hit 13 homers in the first round of Monday night's home run contest -- many of them far above Fenway's famous Green Monster. "... When you see the best of the best, you know ... he's going to go right at you with nasty stuff."

Long on shortstops

The debate over who's the best shortstop in the American League is sure to be a hot topic for years to come. It certainly caught the attention of this year's All-Stars.

"What these guys are doing is really exciting," said Cal Ripken, who defined the role of power-hitting shortstop more than a decade ago. "The best thing about it is they're doing it both offensively and defensively."

With much of the focus on the fans picking Boston's Nomar Garciaparra to start over New York's Derek Jeter on Tuesday night, what's lost is that perhaps the best shortstop is home watching.

Alex Rodriguez, who missed one month with a knee injury, is coming off a 40 homer-40 stolen base season and is hitting .316 with 18 homers and 48 RBIs this year.

Those used to be unheard of numbers for a shortstop. Now, he's just one of the pack with Garciaparra and Jeter.

"They hit the ball for power, put up numbers, steal bases; those guys can do it all," said Cleveland's Omar Vizquel, who beat out Rodriguez this year. "To have three like that in the same league is really exciting."

They each have their own unique accomplishments. Jeter has won two World Series in three years, Garciaparra is the first shortstop to hit more than 30 homers in each of his first two seasons, and Rodriguez is the first infielder to be a 40-40 man and has won a batting title.

"We push each other," Jeter said. "You can't let down, not when there are guys out there as good or better than you."

Short memories

Red Sox fans made their feelings known toward former Boston ace Roger Clemens, who now pitches for the hated Yankees.

Some fans wore T-shirts saying, "Hey Roger Clemens, we're at the All-Star game at Fenway Park and you're not."

Clemens, the career victory leader for the Red Sox, did in fact show up to be honored as one of the 100 greatest players this century. Most of the Fenway fans booed his introduction.

Souveniers here

Larry Walker doesn't know when he will get another chance to play in Fenway Park. So he wasn't about to leave Boston empty-handed.

"I hope the grounds crew doesn't get too mad, because I tore this piece of grass out of right field," Walker said, holding a chunk of turf. "I'm taking it home, and I'm going to have it forever.

"I struck out and hit a comebacker to the mound at Fenway Park and I'm pretty proud of it."

A league of his own

Dave Nilsson is one of the few players who could truly understand both sides of labor issues. Not only an All-Star catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, Nilsson bought the struggling Australian baseball league for $3.5 million.

Nilsson's goal is to start a South Pacific version of winter baseball in the Caribbean. American players will be allowed to play, but the focus will be on the local talent.

"The players there are good enough that unless there are very good pro players coming over, we don't want to take away a spot," Nilsson said. "Pros won't take the place of local kids."

Nilsson's devotion to baseball in his homeland runs so deep that he might pass up the riches of free agency next year to play for Australia in the Olympics.

"I love major league baseball, but I also want to play for my country," he said. "I'll make a decision at the end of the year when the emotions die down."

Still no support

Even an All-Star lineup couldn't give Randy Johnson any run support.

Johnson was 0-4 in his last four starts for Arizona despite allowing a total of five earned runs and striking out 54. The Diamondbacks scored no runs in the 34 innings he was in the game.

Johnson pitched a perfect third inning before being replaced by Kent Bottenfield. The NL stars loaded the bases in the top of the fourth but still couldn't score.

Family tradition

San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman heard all about Fenway Park from his older brother, Glenn, who played in Boston.

So he took the opportunity this week to show his two sons the inner workings of Fenway. After playing a game of Whiffle ball in left field, Hoffman took his son, Quinn, into the Green Monster.

He searched for Glenn's name carved on the inside of the wall and added his beneath it. Then he gave Quinn a piece of pink chalk and told him to add a 'Q.'

"Now you're up there," Hoffman said. "It's awesome."

Big Mac's big shots

How impressive was Mark McGwire's Home Run Derby performance? Carlton Fisk said even a new Fenway Park 618 feet from the original location couldn't hold Big Mac's shots.

"Some of those balls that Mark McGwire hit last night, if they hit them in the new ballpark, they would have gone out of the old ballpark," Fisk said.

Base hits

Although the park was sold out, the attendance of 34,187 was the smallest since 31,851 saw the 1961 game at Fenway Park. The smallest crowd ever was also in Boston, when 25,556 watched the 1936 game at Braves Field. ... Pedro Martinez became the first pitcher to strike out the first four batters in an All-Star game and tied the AL record with five Ks overall. ... Kenny Lofton singled and stole second to lead off the first inning of the All-Star game for the third time in four years. ... AL manager Joe Torre improved to 10-1 in All-Star games as a player or manager. ... Roberto Alomar is the fifth player to make the All-Star game for four teams, joining Walker Cooper, Rich Gossage, George Kell and Lee Smith. Alomar has played for San Diego, Toronto, Baltimore and now Cleveland. ... Commissioner Bud Selig, who helped force former commissioner Fay Vincent out in 1992, sat in front of his predecessor Tuesday. Selig has tried to patch up their relationship in the past year.


 
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