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All star Game wrap-up:       Share

14 July 2010

NL breaks the streak!  For the first time since 1996, the National League won the annual All Star Game!  The big hit came with two outs in the seventh inning as Braves’ catcher Brian McCann drove in three runs with a double to right field.
The American League hadn’t lost since 1996, building a 12-game winning streak during that time.  Thanks for checking my math, but it’s correct – there was a 7-7 tie in 2002 when both teams ran out of players. 

Speaking of tie games, for a while it looked like baseball was going to take a page from the World Cup playbook and put up another 1-0 score.  Last night’s game was uncharacteristically low scoring.  Well into the seventh inning, it was 1-0 in favor of the American League. 

Even the infamous Rally Monkey wasn’t enough to bring the AL back.  This annoying little gimmick that Anaheim (the host of this year’s game) puts on the video board in key situations late in games in an attempt to spur on the game was made memorable during Anaheim’s 2002 World Series win.  The Rally Monkey made an appearance in the bottom of the seventh when hometown player Torii Hunter came up in a key situation, but Hunter struck out, ending the threat.     

And of course, as NASG writer Leroy pointed out last week, “this time, it counts.”  The slogan refers to the spoils awarded to the victor.  Even though the game is an exhibition and does not affect any current standings, when the World Series rolls around in October, the winning team at the All-Star game will get home field advantage.  This means the team from the National League that gets to the World Series gets to host up to four World Series games instead of the three that the other team will host.  This gives them a decided advantage if the World Series comes down to a winner-take-all seventh game.  This fact was not lost on Brian McCann, with his Braves currently in first place.  "The game counts," McCann said. "It means more to me this year than years past, because we are in first place. You think about it more when you're sitting in that position instead of coming here 10, 12 games out. Home-field advantage is exactly that. It's a home-field advantage." 

One liner:  The AL’s streak is dead; maybe now they’ll kill that stupid Rally Monkey. 

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The Basics

Baseball Regular Season:
Major League Baseball (MLB) is divided into two leagues, the American League (AL) and the National League (NL).  Each league is further divided into three divisions, west, central, and east.  The regular season lasts from early April through early October.  While NL teams mostly play other NL teams and vice versa with the AL, there are occasional times in the regular season that NL teams will play AL teams.  During the regular season, each team plays 162 games.   These games determine who will go to the playoffs—each division winner and one “wild card” team from each league.   
Baseball is a statistics crazy game—true fans will quote batting averages, fielding percentages, slugging percentages, and just about any stat that you could think of for their favorite teams or players.  We’ll explain the ones that you need to know throughout the season. 


Win (for a pitcher):  A pitcher must complete five innings of pitching and his team must be leading when he exits for him to get a win.  A pitcher with 15 wins in a season is doing well; 20 wins is the recognized plateau of excellence.

ERA:  Earned Run Average.  A statistic which measures how many runs a pitcher averages surrendering to opposing teams based on pitching nine innings.  For instance, a pitcher with an ERA of 2.00 would on average give up 2 runs over the course of 9 innings.  ERA’s are always measured to the hundredths.  An ERA of under 3.00 is considered good.  An ERA under 2.00 is excellent and only a handful of pitchers are able to sustain an ERA under 2.00 for an entire season.

Pinch Hit:  when a player that did not start the game comes in to bat for a player that did start the game. 

Batting Average:   How often a player gets a hit.  Batting average is calculated by dividing the number of hits by total chances to hit.   If a player walks or is hit by a pitch, such actions are not counted as a chance to hit in calculating the batting average.  A .300 batting average (getting a hit 30% of the time) is considered to be above average for a MLB player.

Mendoza Line:  A euphemism for a .200 batting average.  The term came from a reference to Mario Mendoza, a light hitting infielder in the 1970s that usually batted around .200.  A player that is hitting around the Mendoza Line is lucky to still have a job in the Major Leagues.