Futures Game ends in a tie after eight innings. A tie? Eight innings?

By Morris Phillips

CLEVELAND — The last time a game ended in a tie on All-Star Weekend all hell broke loose.

This time the mood was considerably lighter.  Here’s how:

The 21st addition of the showcase for the top prospects in each big league club’s stable promised to be different, and it was. For the first time, instead of the USA vs. the World format, the teams were split traditionally, National League versus American League. Also, the ballgame was shortened from nine innings to seven, in part to limit the exposure to the pitchers, in keeping with how the precious commodities are treated on the minor league circuit where young arms routinely–but sparingly–hit 100 mph on the radar gun.

Home runs, wild innings? Sure, after last year’s 10-6 slugfest in Washington D.C. in which the clubs combined to hit eight home runs, why not run it back?

Well, the slugfest never materialized. Instead, the hard throwing proliferated, and the two clubs did all they could to scratch out some runs, but after eight innings–one more than scheduled–the game ended in a 2-2 tie.

In a nod to how things are currently done at the minor league level, extra innings began with a runner at second base to promote a quick ending, again to spare young arms, and minimize the number of marathon ballgames.  But in this case, neither club was able to push across a run in the eighth.

“Guys need their (mid-season) break, so you can’t play forever, and you only have so many pitchers here,” said Nationals prospect, shortstop Carter Kieboom.

So instead of a dramatic ending, all the late drama was contained in one at-bat from Rangers’ prospect Sam Huff, who came up with a 418-foot home run off Colorado’s Ben Bowden with one on and one out in the seventh to break up a 2-0 NL shutout. Ironically, Bowden was 20 for 20 in save chances at the Double-A level this year. But on Sunday night, he walked the leadoff man, Jo Adell, then one out later, gave it up to Huff.

“He got a pitch to hit and put a great swing on it,” said Jim Thome, the legendary Cleveland slugger who managed the American League squad.

Huff was named Futures Game MVP for his dramatic homer that exited Progressive Field at more than 109 mph.

Last year’s Futures Game MVP, Cincinnati prospect Taylor Trammel knocked in a run in the fourth to put the NL up 2-0. Then with Trammel on third, and lefty Kris Bubic on the mound, Trammel attempted to steal home. But Bubic recovered from being unaware and threw a perfect pitch low and outside that garnered an out call from the home plate umpire. But replay showed that Trammel got his hand across the bag just ahead of catcher Jake Rogers’ tag. But without a replay system legislated into the Futures Game, the call stood.

The Giants’ two top prospects–catcher Joey Bart and outfielder Heliot Ramos–got into the game, but didn’t factor into the headlines. Ramos grounded a single through the middle of the infield in his only at-bat, and Bart–wearing matching, rainbow-themed gloves and cleats–went 0 for 2.

Bart did make his mark defensively, throwing out Wander Franco trying to steal second base. Franco, only 18 years old and considered the consensus, number one prospect in baseball as a Rays minor leaguer, currently plays at the Double A level. But Bart’s release and throw were perfect, reaching second base in fewer than two seconds, faster than the current, effective standard for major league catchers.

A’s prospect, Jorge Mateo, a shortstop ranked as Oakland’s eighth-best minor leaguer, singled in his first at-bat, but came up empty as one of the batters in the eighth inning given an opportunity to end the game with a runner placed on second base at the beginning of the inning.

2019 NHL All-Star Game Feature

Photo credit: @NHL

By Pearl Allison Lo

SAN JOSE — The 2019 NHL All-Star Game, played on a Saturday for the first time in years, also debuted Parley Ocean Plastic™ jerseys and player tracking at home on TV and on the Jumbotron inside the arena.

Asked if it felt different having the game being played on a different day, Calgary Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau uttered, “It didn’t feel too different, just get out of here one day earlier. It was a fun weekend. Had a blast. Wish we could have kept playing here, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. The Central division has some pretty skilled players right there, so I think they played well.”

The game jerseys were the first-ever NHL jerseys featuring repurposed and upcycled materials developed in partnership with Parley for the Oceans. The white and black jerseys, matching the on-ice elements, also marked the first time team logos were used for NHL All-Star jerseys. An ad after the second game, showed players commenting about the joint initiative with Adidas, including “plastic doesn’t belong in the ocean,” and “turning threat into thread.”

After the first game, Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid asked if the jerseys felt any different and the idea behind them, replied, “I think the jerseys felt the same. I l love the idea behind it. It’s good for the environment. It’s pretty remarkable what they can do with turning plastic into those jerseys…”  

On the Jumbotron below the score, it showed the top three on-ice time for either side. Also shown on the screen was the puck speed and players’ names and numbers at times. The score and on-ice time glitched out during the Championship game, with the score returning eventually, but not the on-ice time stats.

“The San Jose boys turned it on for a bit. 10-5 is better than 10-1,” Edmonton’s Leo Draisaitl mentioned, as Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and Eric Karlsson combined for three goals and two assists.

During the beginning of the game, “Let’s Go Sharks!” was chanted and when Karlsson scored the first goal for the Pacific with a clutch breakaway and every Pacific goal after, the hometown team’s goal song buzzed inside the building.

Asked the percent of how much that made it feel like home, versus an All-Star Game, Burns replied, “The chants were pretty cool. Making it 3-on-3 is a totally different atmosphere. The crowd was awesome. It was good energy. Terrible outcome,” interjected Karlsson to raucous laughter.

Draisaitl gave Anaheim Ducks’ goalie John Gibson a reassuring stick tap after the Central Division scored their sixth goal versus him. “Ducks Suck” chants were also heard from the crowd.

On the booing from the crowd perspective, Draisaitl offered, “At the end of the day, it’s all for fun, so I think those fans enjoyed watching the best players in the world. Obviously, if they can make a joke or little fun..it’s all good.”

For Gibson, Gaudreau commented, “well yeah, it’s not his fault. He’s got 12 superstars coming down on him, 2-on-1s, 3-on-2s, breakways, can’t blame him. That’s what happens when you put 10-12 guys who can shoot the puck and make plays like that, so it kind of got away from us there for a little.”

Gaudreau’s dad was behind the Pacific bench as a Special Assistant. On how he would describe his dad as a coach during the game, Gaudreau conveyed, “He was quiet, first, for a little bit, but he hates losing more than me, so he started off, just giving guys little pushes on the back, saying “Let’s go, let’s go…He had a lot of fun with it.”

Another great announcement by the NHL was made during the second game intermission: To celebrate the contributions of Renata Fast (Team Canada), Brianna Decker (Team USA), Kendall Coyne Schofield (Team USA) and Rebecca Johnston (Team Canada), the NHL will donate $25,000 in each of their names to charities or hockey programs of their choice.  

Sidney Crosby made his return to the All-Star celebration triumphantly, named the All-Star MVP by the fans with four goals and four assists, scoring two goals and one assist in Game Two and two goals and two assists in the Championship game.

On being able to play, Crosby remarked, “It was fun to be with the guys” and about his success here, “got some great memories here for sure.”

2019 NHL All-Star Game News and Commentary

Photo credit: @NHL

By Pearl Allison Lo

SAN JOSE — The “hub of innovation,” as proclaimed by Commissioner Gary Bettman earlier in the day to media, kicked off 2019 NHL All-Star weekend for the first time since 1997, with the Skills Competition Friday.

Players who did not make Media Day on Wednesday were made available to the press before the Skills showcase. These participants included Braden Holtby (WSH), John Carlson (WSH), Marc-Andre Fleury (VGK), Kris Letang (PIT), Drew Doughty (LAK) and Nathan MacKinnon (COL). Sidney Crosby was absent due to illness and did not play in the competition.

Doughty, set to play in Accuracy Shooting, on his chances, replied, “I doubt I’ll win. Yeah, I don’t know. I have a decent shot, but I can say I’ve never just stood in front of the net and shots pucks at targets before, so this’ll be my first time, and I’m sure the crowd will probably be booing me, so I’ll probably be super nervous, and embararssed a little bit…Hopefully the shoot goes well.” Doughty ended up in third out of eighth place with a time of 14.423 seconds.   

First time NHL All-Star Carlson’s game was the hardest shot. Before, he said, “I’m looking forward to giving it a try. I haven’t ever been registered before, so I think we all have a chance this year with some of the guys that are in here…I like watching all of them (the competitions). I think they all showcase the talent of these great players in the league and that’s what it’s about and I like seeing some of the ways that our guys can handle the puck.” Carlson was the $25,000 winner, finishing with the top two quickest shots at 102.8mph and 100.6mph.

MacKinnon, an All-Star Captain for the first time, was on the shelf as well for the contest. HE responded, “I was forced, but I love coming here. It’s still fun. I’m still the captain…It’s just a bruise on the inside of my foot…we know it’s not broken…I’ll be good to go against Vancouver (February 2). Regarding not participating in the fastest skater competition, McKinnon replied, “I get killed every year…Connor’s so fast…McDavid won his third straight fastest skater contest with a time of 13.378 seconds.

The replacement for MacKinnon was the first woman to ever compete in the Skills match. Kendall Coyne from the U.S. Women’s National Team skated first and beat out Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes. With chants of “USA,” Coyne gushed she was “super, super excited, super, super honored. Thanks for the NHL’s support.” Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames commented, “She was fast. I didn’t expect that…It’s pretty impressive, obviously…she’s American, which is even better.”

Going back to MacKinnon on his favorite skill, he said, “probably the shooting. I always have to do the skating, but I’d love to do the shooting one year for sure.”

Regarding his teammates’ chances in the skills competition, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, MacKinnon analyzed, “Gabe has to do puck handling, so I don’t know. I don’t like his chances. He’s more of a forechecker.” For Mikko, he verified, “He’s got over 50 assists, so I think he’ll do pretty good at passing.”  Landeskog finished fifth out of eighth in puck control with 33.425 seconds and Rantanen got second out of eighth with 2 minutes and 17.379 seconds.

Sharks’ defenseman Erik Karlsson did participate in the All-Star Skills, despite his status being questionable due to recent injury. On being able to participate, he replied, “It’s great, especially being here in San Jose, I think it’s a great thing for this fan base and for this organization and community, so I’m happy I can be here.”  He finished seventh out of eighth in Premier Passer with 1 minute and 58.824 seconds. Teammate Joe Pavelski described the event well, “It seems like one of those events where you need a little momentum going in, and if you get a couple early, that’s good, if not, it’s pretty tough.”

An especially great moment of the competition for the hometown crowd, was when Toronto Maple Leaf’s Auston Matthews, playing in the last event of Accuracy Shooting, removed his jersey to reveal that of his now teammate and former Sharks’ legend Patrick Marleau, which he wore while partaking in the event.” Afterwards, he, along with San Jose’s representative of Karlsson, Pavelski and Brent Burns, took a picture with Burns’ and Pavelski’s boys.

2019 NHL All-Star Skills Competition Results

Photo credit: @ScoutingTheRefs

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The 2019 NHL All Star Skills Competition featured six events in front of a big crowd at SAP Center Friday evening. In the first event, the Fastest Skater, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid won for the third time in a row, this time with a time of 13.378. In second place, Buffalo’s Jack Eichel completed the course in 13.582, with the Islanders’ Matthew Barzal third at 13.778. The first skater in the competition was Kendall Coyne Schofield of the US Women’s National Team. Her time was 14.346.

The second event was demonstrated by Rebecca Johnston of the Canadian Women’s team. The Puck Control race started with a stick handling test, followed by a puck carrying exercise though cones. The third test was to put the puck through three variable gates. One of three gates in each pillar would light up as the skater finished the preceding test. At the end, they had to put the puck in a regular net. Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau took the prize with a time of 27.045. Chicago’s Patrick Kane skated first but came in second with a time of 28.611. Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux finished third with a time of 30.270.

In the Save Streak competition, each goaltender would face a shot from each skater on an opposing team, with the order of go to repeat if the goalie stopped a shot by a Divisional Captain. If he did not stop that shot, his turn was up. Henrik Lundqvist went last and won with 12 saves against the Atlantic Division.

Pekka Rinne was in the net first, making two saves in a row but no longer streak than that against the Pacific Division. Andrei Vasilevsky made 8 saves before Seth Jones scored from the Metro Division. John Gibson made 3 saves against the Central Division. Devan Dubnyk made 7 saves against the Pacific Division. Braden Holtby defended against the Atlantic Division but did not make more than 2 saves in a row. Jimmy Howard made 2 saves against the Metropolitan Division. Marc-Andre Fleury got the extra shots by making a save on the Central Dvivision captain, but he let in the very next shot and did not reach the eight-save threshold set by Vasilevsky.

Briana Decker of the USA Women’s National Team demonstrated the Premier Passer race. Contestants had to hit the sticks of three cutout skaters with a pass, then put pucks in four mini nets with a saucer pass over a low barrier. Finally, the skater had to hit five of six targets which would light up, signalling him to shoot at that one. If he did not hit the target before the light changed, it did not count. Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl won it with a time of 1:09.088. The second best time was 1:18.530 from Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, and the third best was St. Louis’s Ryan O’Reilly with 1:25.897.

Washington’s John Carlson won the Hardest Shot contest with a 102.8 mph shot. San Jose’s Brent Burns came next with a 100.6 mph shot, while Columbus’s Seth Jones was third with a 99 mph shot. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos was the only other shooter and his best was 96.2 mph. San Jose’s Sharky won the mascot hardest shot with 85.2 mph.

The Final Event was Accuracy Shooting. Renata Fast from the Canadian Women’s National Team demonstrated the new setup. Instead of plates that break, the targets were LED lit and they only stayed lit for 3 seconds before going dark. Of course, they had to be hit while lit or it did not count. The standing record for five-target accuracy shooting is 11.1. Boston’s David Pastrnak won it this year with a time of 11:309. Kris Letang and Drew Doughty came in second and third with times of 12.693 and 13.591 respectively. San Jose’s Joe Pavelski finished with a respectable 14.423.

The NHL All-Star Game will start at 5:00 PM PT Saturday.

My Memories of the 2007 Futures Game

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

By Jeremy Kahn

SAN FRANCISCO — It is hard to believe that it has been nearly 11 years since AT&T Park hosted their only All-Star Game.

Yes, it will be best remembered for Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners hitting the inside-the-park home run, as the American League defeated the National League 5-3 before a crowd of 43,965 at AT&T Park.

Just two days prior to the Midsummer Classic, the Minor Leaguers were on Center Stage, or the baseball field, as they showed off their skills under San Francisco Giants legend Orlando Cepeda and Dave Winfield, who was born on the same day (October 3, 1951) that Bobby Thomson hit “The Shot Heard Round the World” home run off of Ralph Branca to give the New York Giants a 5-3 victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers that propelled the Giants to the World Series, where they lost to the New York Yankees.

There were some notable players on the field on that Sunday afternoon in July of 2007 that have made a big splash on the game since then.

Joey Votto, who would go onto win a National Most Valuable Player Award for the Cincinnati Reds, hit a home run for the World Team off of future Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz, as the World team defeated the U.S. team 7-2.

Clayton Kershaw, a multi-time Cy Young Award winner for the Los Angeles Dodgers gave up a home run to James Van Ostrand to give the World team a commanding 6-2 lead in the top of the seventh inning.

“I took a good swing and got a good pitch to hit,” Votto said. “It was a fun day. I had a good time. I just had an awesome timeplaying with all these guys. I love playing with these guys. Playing against the U.S. team was just fun. Great stadium and thefans were awesome.”

Justin Upton put the U.S. on the board, as he hit a solo home run off of Faustino De Los Santos in the bottom of the third inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who played in six games for the Boston Red Sox prior to getting sent to the minors on the Friday prior to the game replaced Cameron Maybin of the Detroit Tigers, who was unable to play due to an injury.

“It’s been a crazy week,” Ellsbury said. “It means a lot tome to play with these guys. There are a lot of guys who will be inthe big leagues in the near future.”

There were players with Giants ties then and now, as current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria played for the U.S. team, as he represented the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez played for the World team, as he was a member of the Detroit Tigers organization and was later named the Midwest League Most Valuable Player, while playing for the West Michigan Whitecaps.

Both Brian Bocock and Henry Sosa played in the game, as they represented the Giants’ organization. Bocock and Sosa played for San Jose that season.

ESPN.com contributed to this story.

Kucherov scores first 3-on-3 hat trick, Pacific wins 5-2 after loss in 2017 All-Star Game

~ Photo credit: NHL.com

~ By Pearl Allison Lo

~ Nikita Kucherov, one of four Tampa Bay Lightning players represented, scored the first hat trick of the new format, and the Pacific Division beat the Atlantic 5-2 Sunday.

Kucherov, who came into the game with a regular season slump, ended the second semifinal game to hats on the ice in front of his home fans.

The Pacific Division lost to the Metropolitan Division in 2017 by a score of 4-3. This time, they got the $1 million dollar prize as they won both of their games 5-2.  All three games were decided by three.

Neon colors connected the four teams. The jerseys described as futuristic, the Central and the Pacific wore orange and the Metropolitan and the Atlantic going with yellow.

First-time rookie All-Star Brock Boeser from the Vancouver Canucks won the MVP and a Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid. He scored in both his games, with the game-winner in the first and added an assist in the second.

The All-Star players hit a lot metal throughout the games, but most in the first game.

In the final, the Pacific scored all three of their goals in the first half and never trailed.

Rickard Rakell (Pacific) had two goals and an assist, Mike Green (Atlantic) had two goals, the Pacific’s Johnny Gaudreau and Drew Doughty scored and Brad Marchand (Atlantic) and Anze Kopitar (Pacific) each had two assists.

All three games’ first goal came with less than two minutes of start time, Rakell’s the fastest at 50 seconds into a wide-open left side.

Boeser made it 2-0 with the rebound off Gaudreau’s shot at 5:05.

Green, in his first All-Star appearance since 2011, got the Atlantic on the board at 6:08 when he scored from the faceoff circle.

Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was able to fend off a Pacific Captain Connor McDavid breakaway.

Doughty got a direct assist from Los Angeles Kings teammate Kopitar as he scored down the slot with the help of Auston Matthews’ screen at 8:35.

The Pacific got their biggest lead when Gaudreau got his own goal to make it 4-1.

The Atlantic went without a shot on goal from Green’s first goal to right before Green’s second goal when Atlantic Captain Steven Stamkos from Tampa had a shot on goal. Green scored right above Mike Smith’s glove at 3:26.

Rakell brought the game full circle when he scored his second with a patient shot to the top right of the net against Carey Price at 7:24.

Game #1
The first game pitted Team Black (Central) versus White (Pacific). Although the Central had a 7-2 shot advantage at one point, the Pacific won for the third time in as many years, by a 5-2 advantage.

Team Pacific scored all five of their goals in the second half.

James Neal (Central) had two goals, Nathan MacKinnon (Central) and San Jose Sharks’ Brent Burns (Pacific) had a goal and assist, Doughty, Central Captain P.K. Subban and Boeser also scored and McDavid had four assists along with a game-high +4 and four takeaways.

MacKinnon had the game’s first shot and first goal for the Central as he scored almost straightaway at 1:47. His goal was aided by Blake Wheeler against Marc-Andre Fleury.

Burns had two missed shots off the goalpost one second away.

Nearing first half end, McDavid picked up a turnover and missed the net, followed by a shot two seconds later. Less than 20 seconds later, Pekka Rinne made a save with McDavid’s shot going over his back.

Doughty tied the game on a breakaway at 4:13. His goal was helped by McDavid against Connor Hellebuyck.

The Pacific started outshooting the Central after and Neal gave the Pacific their first lead at 6:57. Burns got the takeaway and passed across to McDavid.

All the following goals came in quick succession, under a minute of each other.

Subban scored the Central’s last goal, on a breakaway against Smith to retie the game.

Boeser and Burns’ goals were the quickest of Game #1, coming within 24 seconds of each other. Burns’ was the first of two empty netters.  Regarding his goal, Burns commented, “I was trying to make a move, lost the puck and it went in.”

Neal scored the last goal of the game at 9:18 to seal the win.

Game #2
Team Metropolitan (gray) faced off versus Team Atlantic (dark blue), with the Atlantic taking the game in the second half, 7-4, with four straight goals, the first one establishing the matchup’s third tie.

The Atlantic’s Jack Eichel had a goal and two assists. Matthews, Brayden Point (Tampa) and Marchand each had a goal and assist. Erik Karlsson had three assists.

The Metropolitan’s Sidney Crosby, Captain Alex Ovechkin, Claude Giroux and Kris Letang scored.

Game #2 had a more active first half in terms of scoring than Game #1. Each team traded goals for the most part.

Crosby scored with help from Ovechkin at 1:09. Crosby replied, “Right after that goal, emotions start.”

The shot advantage started out more even until the Metropolitan shot advantage got to 8-2. Crosby then had two shots followed by Noah Hanifin.

Henrik Lundquist missed the second shot as Matthews scored at 5:30. Two seconds before the goal, Lundqvist saved Eichel’s wrist shot. Matthews was helped by Eichel and Aleksander Barkov.

Giroux gave the Metropolitan back a 2-1 lead on another breakaway after faking a pass to Brian Boyle.

Ovechkin then broke the back-and-forth between the teams with his own goal at 8:16.

The Atlantic was quick to respond. 11 seconds later, Kucherov got his first as the puck slid next to Lundqvist’s jersey.

Kucherov got his second in a row at 2:12 of the second half, stringing together the Atlantic’s first two goals. It came by way of a spin-o-rama pass from Kucherov to Eichel and then a behind-the-back pass back to Kucherov.

Kris Letang made it 4-3 at 3:17 and then the Atlantic went off to the races with their four straight goals, starting with Point at 4:33 off Braden Holtby.

Actually, if it was not for an offsides challenge that the Atlantic won, the Metropolitan would have had another goal from Erik Karlsson.

Eichel scored at 6:40, Marchand received initial cheers for his goal at 7:41 and Kucherov finished at 7:56.  

Game notes: Burns also had an assist in the Final.

DeMarcus Cousins is an All-Star for the third consecutive season

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings
DeMarcus Cousins is now a three-time All-Star Photo: NBAE

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento — The NBA announced the reserve members of the 2017 Western Conference All-Star Team on Thursday and DeMarcus Cousins was named to the squad. This is the third straight season that Cousins has been selected to the All-Star team.

For the Kings star center, this has to be some welcome news in what has been a chaotic, frustrating and often disappointing season. Cousins has had to carry the team at times and now that Rudy Gay has been lost for the year, the big man they call “Boogie” is going to have the burden of carrying the team on his shoulders for the rest of the season. The recognition of his talent and production should serve as some positive motivation for Cousins.


The numbers tell the story of the selection

  • Cousins is averaging a career-high 28.0 points per game
  • He has a 44.9 Field Goal %, 36.5 3-point % and a 77.3 Free Throw %
  • The big man averages 10.3 rebounds per game which means he is averaging a double-double for the season
  • Add in 4.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks in 34.4 minutes per game and looking at that stat line you can see that an All-Star selection was more than appropriate

Cousins and Russell Westbrook are the only two players in “the association” averaging at least 28 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Cousins has royal company

Cousins is the first Kings player to be selected to an All-Star team for three consecutive years since Peja Stojakovic was chosen as an All-Star from 2002-2004. He is the sixth player in the Sacramento era of the Kings to named as an All-Star. The other Sacramento Kings to be selected as All-Stars were Mitch Richmond (6), Chris Webber (4) and Peja Stojakovic (3). A total of 23 players have been selected as All-Stars in franchise history which includes teams playing as the Kings and Royals.

Reaction and happenings in the Tweetosphere 


Royal mistreatment: Cueto roughed up as the American League captures the All-Star Game for the fourth straight year

Cueto shinin

By Morris Phillips

In the pantheon of performances by Giants’ pitchers chosen to start the All-Star Game, Johnny Cueto’s wasn’t the cakewalk Juan Marichal experienced in 1967, or the walkover Matt Cain enjoyed in 2012. Instead, Cueto, who admitted to feeling under the weather before the game, had an outing that most approximated Vida Blue’s 1978 start, also in San Diego:

Sudden fireworks at the Giants’ starter’s expense, a bit of embarrassment, and in Cueto’s case, a loss.

Cueto allowed home runs to former teammates, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez in the second inning, early offense that held up in the American League’s 4-2 win over the National League on Tuesday night.

“I think it was two pitches I left up, and I paid the price,” Cueto said through an interpreter following his stint in which he allowed five hits in a 1 2/3 innings of work.

The AL win gives the American League champion home field advantage in the World Series for the fourth consecutive season, no insignificant development for the NL Giants, who hold the league’s best record with 90 of the season’s 162 complete. Of course, the Giants overcame the home field advantage in 2014 when Madison Bumgarner led his team past the Royals in Game 7 in Kansas City.

The K.C. connection played big on Tuesday, as Hosmer and Perez became only the second pair of teammates to homer in the same inning in an All-Star Game joining Jimmy Wynn and Steve Garvey of the Dodgers who achieved the feat in 1975.

“It’s a dream come true, and it felt like my first big league homer right there,” Hosmer said in an interview with FOX during the game. “It was special.”

Hosmer’s home run came with one out in the second inning, tying the score 1-1, a rapid answer to Kris Bryant’s homer off Chris Sale that gave the NL the lead in the first. Mookie Betts singled, then with Hosmer being interviewed in the dugout following his homer, Perez took Cueto deep to left, and the AL led 3-1.

Did familiarity aid Hosmer and Perez against Cueto, their teammate on the Royals’ World Series winning team of last season? Or were the duo’s home runs payback for Cueto departing for the deeper-pocketed Giants?

Cueto, in a good mood despite his outing, downplayed both scenarios, emphasizing the presence of his entire family, and the opportunity to represent the first-place Giants. The nine-year veteran appeared to have everything in his favor: snazzy lime and orange cleats, his current catcher, Buster Posey, behind the plate, and the bright sun and shadows that hamper hitters with a 5pm West coast, mid-summer start time. Instead, Cueto suffered, perhaps feeling ill, elevating a pair of pitches to the Kansas City duo and surrendering hard hit balls to Mike Trout and David Ortiz.

With Trout looming in the on deck circle, manager Terry Collins elected to remove Cueto with a runner on, and two outs in the second inning.

Hosmer added an RBI single in the third, and was named the game’s MVP. It was the first time a Kansas City player captured the award since Bo Jackson in 1989. That year, Jackson homered in the first inning off Giants’ starting pitcher Rick Reuschel.

It was Hosmer’s first All-Star appearance and he couldn’t contain his excitement after circling the bases.

“We’ve been here before. We’ve been on a stage before!” Hosmer said to no one in particular as he approached the Royals’ dugout.

Cueto suffered the loss, only the second time he’s done so in a San Francisco uniform after going 13-1 in his first 18 starts as a Giant. His All-Star performance may have lacked, but not like Atlee Hamaker’s relief appearance in 1983 in which he allowed a grand slam and seven earned runs in less than an inning.

Marichal started All-Star games in 1965 and 1967 and cruised both times. Cain started in 2012, and picked up the win, departing after two innings with a 5-0 lead.

But Blue, like Cueto, saw things deteriorate fast, allowing a triple to Rod Carew, then a double to George Brett, the first two batters of the game. Unlike Cueto, Blue escaped a loss as the NL rallied that year, overcoming Blue’s 3-0 deficit to win 7-3 at Jack Murphy Stadium.

ALL STAR NOTES: Tuesday’s game was played in a tidy 3 hours, 5 minutes as both teams had nine pitchers pitch and record at least one out… There were 18 hits in the game, but no scoring after the top of the fourth… The American League was designated the home team as an NL club hosted the game for the fourth straight season. In acknowledgement of the string of NL cities hosting, the American League was designated as the home team, wore white uniforms and hit last… Bryant was 0 for 6 with six strikeouts against Chris Sale, before homering off Sale in the first inning. Bryant played the game in front of friends and family, gathered nearby University of San Diego, where Bryant starred collegiately… Ortiz was removed for a pinch hitter in the third after drawing a walk off Miami’s Jose Fernandez. In his final All-Star game appearance, Ortiz was greeted with a standing ovation while all of his All-Star teammates came out of the dugout to greet him… Fernandez’ tongue-and-cheek promise to groove fastballs when facing Ortiz didn’t materialize.  Fernandez started Ortiz with a changeup, then walked the slugger on a 3-2 pitch.


2015 NHL All Star Weekend Recap

By Mary Walsh

Team Black won the Skills Competition, Team White won an All Star Game marked by more goals than ever and two plus hat tricks. Ryan Johansen was the MVP, Alex Ovechkin got a car (but not the one he asked for), the first ever All Star Draft trade took place. It was a busy weekend in Columbus Ohio.

The NHL opened the 2015 All Star Weekend in Columbus by announcing that a World Cup of Hockey will take place in September of 2016. Last held in 2004, the 2016 tournament will include teams from Canada, the USA, Russia, the Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden. In addition, two All Star teams will be assembled of players from countries not represented in that group. Future tournaments may be expanded to include qualification rounds to determine which countries will participate. The tournament is expected to last about two weeks and will start on September 17, 2016 at Air Canada Center in Toronto.

The NHL also announced that the 2016 Winter Classic will be held at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, with the Boston Bruins hosting the Montreal Canadiens. Two more outdoor games are scheduled for 2016. The first will be between the Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks, on February 21 at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. On February 27, the Colorado Avalanche will host the Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado.

On Friday, January 23, the All Stars gathered to draft their teams in Columbus Ohio. Alex Ovechkin said that he wanted to be chosen last, because he needed the car. He made this point repeatedly, with hand-written signs held up to the camera and in statements during interviews. His motives could have been guessed at but he kept the secret well enough that his fellow All Stars did not take the hint, and picked him third to last. It was eventually revealed that he wanted to give the car to a program called Nova Cool Cats Special Hockey. Learning this, Honda decided to help him out. Read all about that here.


Team Black captain: Nick Foligno. Alternates: Patrick Kane and Drew Doughty. Coach: Darryl Sutter.

Team Foligno, with the first overall pick,  chose the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Ryan Johansen. It was a wise choice. Johansen went on to win the Breakaway Challenge and the MVP award.

The rest of the team was drafted as follows: 3rd: Duncan Keith (CHI), 5th: Anze Kopitar (LAK), 7th: Steven Stamkos (TBL), 9th: Tyler Seguin (DAL), 11th: Carey Price (MTL), 13th: Claude Giroux (PHI), 15th: Dustin Byfuglien (WPG), 16th: Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT), 17th: Brian Elliott (STL) (replacement for injured Sergei Bobrovsky), 19th: Brent Burns (SJS) (“The second best 88 in the league” per Patrick Kane), 21st: Kevin Shattenkirk (STL), 23rd: Bobby Ryan (OTT), 25th: Radim Vrbata (VAN), 27th: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (ARI), 29th: Zemgus Girgensons (BUF), 31st: Alex Ovechkin (WSH), 34th: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (EDM).

Team White captain: Jonathan Toews. Alternates: Ryan Getzlaf and Rick Nash. Coach: Peter Laviolette.

Team Toews drafted Phil Kessel (TOR) first. Commenting on their choice, Jonathan Toews made reference to Kessel being the last All Star drafted in 2011:

We know that Phil had a tough one a couple of years ago, I think he deserved to be at the top end of the draft this year. And I think, the three of us were just talking, that he’s one of the most coachable players out there so we’re happy to have him on our team.

About half way through the draft, Team Toews traded Kessel for Tyler Seguin. Asked if he saw the trade coming, Seguin said: “You never expect it, you never expect to get traded. It’s tough to swallow right now but I’m really excited. A big opportunity over there with White, so it’ll be fun.”

The rest of Team Toews was drafted as follows: 4th: Shea Weber (NSH), 6th: Jake Voracek (PHI), 8th: Corey Crawford CHI), 10th: John Tavares (NYI), 12th: Roberto Luongo (FLA), 14th: Brent Seabrook (CHI), 16th: Vladimir Tarasenko (STL), 18th: Patrice Bergeron (BOS), 20th: Jaroslav Halak (NYI), 22nd: Aaron Ekblad (FLA). 24th: Patrick Elias (NJD), 26th: Ryan Suter (MIN), 28th: Marc Giordano (CGY), 30th: Justin Faulk (CAR), 32nd: Tyler Johnson (TBL), 34th: Filip Forsberg (NSH)

In a little rule change, both of the last two picks (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Filip Forsberg) received Honda Accords.

On Saturday, the Skills Competition was won by Team Foligno 25-19. Both Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson and Colorado’s Erik Johnson were unable to play due to injury. It appears that Johnson was an unlucky name for All Stars in 2015.

The winner of the NHL Breakaway Challenge, as chosen by fan vote, was Ryan Johansen. Johansen left the puck in the slot, skated back to the bench and brought one of the training staff’s sons out with him to take the shot. A few rounds later, Jakub Voracek did the same thing, but brought out Johnny Gaudreau out instead of a child.

In the accuracy competition, the home team’s Patrick Kane had the fastest time overall.

The highlight of the Skills Relay was Ryan Getzlaf’s turn in the mini-net passing drill. He hit the four targets in five tries. The extra try was a second shot at a net he had already hit.

In the hardest shot competition, Shea Weber’s second shot (his first missed the net) won with 108.5 mph. That is just behind Zdeno Chara’s standing record of 108.8. Ovechkin came in second with 101.4. Brent Burns, shooting against Florida rookie Aaron Ekblad, lost his heat with a 93.3 mph shot. Ekblad’s shot was clocked at 95.3 mph.

In the shootout, Team Foligno won with 25 goals to Team Toews’ 19. Brent Burns scored once and missed once.

The All Star Game itself took place on Sunday. The final score was 17-12 Team Toews. The game set an All Star record with 29 goals scored. During the second period, a new All Star record was set with 11 goals. For every shot on goal, the NHL gave 200 dollars to the Ronald MacDonald House Charities. 92 shots produced a donation of $18,400.

The MVP award went to Ryan Johansen. The prize was a Honda Accord.

The forward lines for Team Toews were Nash-Toews-Vorcek, Tarasenko-Getzlaf-Seguin, Elias-Bergeron-Tavares, Gaudreau-Forsberg. (Tyler Johnson was out with a lower body injury.)

The defense pairs for Team Toews were: Suter-Weber, Faulk-Ekblad, Giordano-Seabrook.

For Team Foligno, the forward lines were Nugent Hopkins-Girgensons-Vrbata, Foligno-Johansen-Ovechkin, Ryan-Kopitar-Stamkos, Kane-Giroux-Kessel.

Team Foligno’s defense pairs were Keith-Doughty, Burns-Shattenkirk, Ekman Larsson-Byfuglien.

Jakub Voracek, Ryan Johansen, Rick Nash, Tyler Seguin, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, Filip Forsberg and John Tavares all had multi-goal games. Tavares was the first to get a hat trick, and he went on to tie the All Star record with four goals. Voracek also had a hat trick.

The Sharks’ Brent Burns had a goal and an assist for Team Foligno.

Roberto Luongo played the first period for Team Toews, Corey Crawford played the second, and Jaroslav Halak played the third. Corey Crawford led Team Toews in saves with 14 on 18 shots.

Carey Price played the first period for Team Foligno, Marc-Andre Fleury played the second, and Brian Elliot played the third. Carey Price led Team Foligno in saves with 12 on 16 shots.

Four players on Team Toews were tied for the team lead in assists with four each: Aaron Ekblad, Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Alex Ovechkin led Team Foligno in assists with three.

Entertainment notes: Locksley played The Whip (aka the CBJ goal song) in the pregame show. Fall Out Boy performed during the first intermission, beginning with Light Em Up. The second intermission featured O.A.R. performing Love and Memories and Two Hands Up.

A Pitcher in the Home Run Derby? Why Madison Bumgarner Should Have Been Considered

By Matthew Harrington

Monday night, the annual tradition of launching baseballs into the atmosphere like NASA satellites will commence once again, as the MLB’s greatest current sluggers converge at Target Field in Minnesota for the 2014 Home Run Derby, a rocket launch to the 2014 All-Star Game Festivities in the Twin Cities.

Sure, Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton and Yoenis Cespedes are going to put on a show, launch tape measure bombs and make Chris Berman yell “Back, back, back!” more times than a construction foreman guiding a reversing dump truck. Absolutely the field is filled with deserving candidates worthy of the honor to compete for the superfluous, superlative title of home run champion. The only problem is, National League captain missed a great opportunity to invite an unexpected participant; San Francisco Giants 2014 All-Star Madison Bumgarner.

With Bumgarner having pitched in Sunday’s first-half finale, he won’t be available to perform his duties in the Mid-Summer Classic Tuesday night, he’ll instead be replaced by teammate Tim Hudson. It’d certainly free him up for Monday Night’s fireworks display though, and here’s why he should be included.

Consider this blind sample:

Batter A – 13.33 at-bats per home run
Batter B – 16.81 at-bats per home run
Batter C – 27.46 at-bats per home run
Batter D – 14.76 at-bats per home run
Batter E – 19.05 at-bats per home run
Batter F – 28.58 at-bats per home run

The figures for batters B though F are this year’s National League Entrants in the home run derby Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Morneau, Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Frazier and Yasiel Puig in that order. Subject A, the leader in long ball frequency amongst the above sample group, is Bumgarner. Over 40 at-bats this season, he has exited the park three times.

There are no doubts that Tulowitzki, NL leader in home runs (21, tied with Stanton) selected an entertaining senior circuit squad. Justin Morneau represents the veteran savvy, having won the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium after hitting four balls out of AT&T Park in the previous iteration. While other players were still adjusting to another season on April fourth, Stanton already showed his penchant for the tape-measure poke, launching the longest NL home run of the season an astounding 484 feet. Puig brings the flair, ranking fourth in the Majors in average distance per homer (417.3 feet) while Frazier brings the backstory. Tulowitzki selected Frazier based off a leadoff home run the Reds third basemen hit…for New Jersey in the Little League World Series. Surely, the Colorado shortstop couldn’t be accused of not bringing the best to Minneapolis.

That being said, Despite playing in the very homer-unfriendly AT&T Park (ranked 6th in the NL in home runs hit this season), Bumgarner has excelled at the big fly at home in 2014. Following Sunday’s grand slam, against the Arizona Diamondbacks, a 387-footer off starter Matt Stites, the Giants All-star collected all three of his first-half dinger on the banks of McCovey Cove this season. None came cheap, with the average distance for MadBum blasts measuring in at 402 feet. That matches or is better than Morneau (402), Frazier (398.6) and Tulowitzki (398.4). Sure, it’s a small sample size, but it’s an impressive one no less, and one that started the train of though to invite the lefty-throwing, righty-hitting starter.

If a small statistical pool is troublesome, let’s shed some light on what Bumgarner has done with the bat in comparison to some of his teammates. The Hickory, NC native currently sits in seventh place amongst Giants hitters in offensive wins above replacement, ranking above Brandon Belt, Tyler Colvin and Brandon Hicks as well as five other position players with more at-bats than Bumgarner. In only 1/5th the numbers of opportunities of many of his teammates, Bumgarner and his .275 batting average and 12 runs batted in have proven he’s no slouch with the stick. Throw in that he’s pitched brilliantly, going 10-7 with a 3.47 earned run average and 127 punchouts over 128 innings.

While selecting a pitcher in the home run derby sounds outlandish in theory, in practice it would create quite a buzz for the event. No pitcher has ever participated in the event, a far more significant first than the change in format implemented this year. A move to segregated league brackets that will culminate in an AL bracket-winner vs NL bracket-winner final sounds mildly interesting for the sake of it being something new, but it still represents the same old Derby concept of mashers pummeling baseballs ad nauseum till someone emerges a victor.

Inserting a starting pitcher as a combatant into the fray would draw buzz. Fans would tune in, if not to watch with intrigue of what the seldom offensively-gifted could do, at least for the train wreck aspect. The fun of watching the Derby for some isn’t the amount of success the participants have, but rather the lack there of. Who didn’t have a laugh when Robinson Cano couldn’t clear the fence even once amidst a rousing round of jeers from those in attendance at Kauffman Stadium in the summer of 2012?

There are plenty of hurdles to even considering a pitcher for the annual laser show. First and foremost is the production from the position. Bumgarner is one of only seven NL pitchers with a homerun, and only Chicago’s Travis Wood has multiple jacks to join Madison. Bumgarner is also the only hurler with more than 10 RBIs this season meaning there’s a severe lack of offensive output league-wide from the NL’s ninth spot in the order. So forgive Tulo or any other future captain for not tabbing a starter to the team.

Dim positional offensive positivity aside, imagine the resistance a general manager and manager would offer. It’s hard enough to convince star hitters to take part for fear of ruining their swing for the second half. Now picture the long list of pitchers who have injured themselves over the years taken hacks at the plate. No front office would want to see their pitcher, whom they have invested millions of dollars in, injured in a meaningless exhibition for a skillset none to prevalent at the position with no consequence other than a hollow title.

But the All-star game isn’t about managers, or GMs, or the players to some degree. It’s about the fans, rewarding them with a chance to watch the best of the best, to dream about what an All-World outfield of Mike Trout, Bautista and Adam Jones. It’s about seeing the never-before-seen, the never-to-be-seen-again. Hopefully, one day, it’ll be about seeing a starting pitcher take his long ball hacks with the best of them in the Home Run Derby.