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Fault Lines: Who Lives, Who TIES, Who’s Responsible for the 2002 MLB All-Star Disaster

The infamous Midsummer Classic that changed the way we view the MLB All-Star Game forever is now on trial.

Selig Statue by Pepsiwithcoke is licensed under CC BY SA-3.0

Fault Lines: Who Lives, Who TIES, Who’s Responsible for the 2002 MLB All-Star Disaster


Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Usually, when a massive mistake happens it’s not the fault of only one person. There are frequently many cooks in the kitchen that produce this bowl of shit soup. Here at the Turf, we want to examine how many people are to blame for some of sports’ biggest miscues, and identify all who deserve a slice of the blame.

And now let’s dive into the culprits who played a role in the 2002 MLB All-Star Game ending in a tie.

Bud Selig

Stop standing on ceremony!

Yes, the game was still tied at the end of the 11th inning, and letting any of the pitchers throw another pitch would have put them at injury risk.

However, why not think outside the box? You’re the commissioner of the game and it’s understandable you don’t want to make a mockery of the sport in your hometown, but you kinda did that anyway.

Instead, bring the two managers to your seat and say, “Any position player who wants to pitch, give them a shot!” These are still MLB players. Sure, it’s “against the rules” to allow a player who has left the game to return. But this isn’t saying let the hot dog vendor try a knuckler.

The game ended in a tie! Be better.

Joe Torre

You have 11 pitchers.

You do not know how long the game will go.

Joe, you cannot use one (Barry Zito) for one batter in the 6th inning and then replace him with another left-handed pitcher. I don’t care what the splits are.

Over-rated (clap-clap-clap clap clap)

Bob Brenly

The 7th inning is atrocious here.

There are stats and theories that will tell you that it doesn’t matter when a reliever enters a game. Then you can look at the large sample of closers who do not perform as effectively when they are brought in mid-inning or in non-save situations.

Brenly had one reliever (Mike Remlinger) who made the team as a non-closer and he (for whatever reason) chose to start the 7th inning with him.

The NL team starts this half-inning with a 5-2 lead and leaves it trailing 6-5.

It doesn’t matter what happened, this can all be traced back to using a middle reliever to start an inning when he had three closers waiting in the wings (including Brenly’s own!).

Actually, never mind, here’s what happened.

Remlinger gives up a single to Johnny Damon. He steals second while Omar Vizquel is batting. Vizquel lines out to right field and Damon goes to third. Garret Anderson grounds out which scores Damon, and then Randy Winn walks. 5-3 NL.

Brenly brings in Byung-Hyun Kim.

Winn had 27 steals in 2002 and he steals 2nd.

Kim allowed a 1.062 OPS in 2002 with a runner on 2nd and 2 outs. This was 12 appearances in the season, but still, this is trying to build a narrative.

Also, Kim allowed a .557 OPS during the 2002 season, but allowed a .699 OPS when he had one day’s rest. He pitched on July 7th, 2002 and the All-Star game was on July 9th.

These are things his manager maybe should have known and considered when trying to put him in the best position to succeed.

Tony Batista singles to left and Winn scores. 5-4 NL.

Miguel Tejada singles to center, Batista to second.

Paul Konerko doubles to left, Batista and Tejada score. 6-5 AL.

Arch Ward

The former sports editor of the Chicago Tribune is credited with creating the MLB All-Star Game in 1933. While this is a monumental achievement in Ward’s legacy and one all MLB fans should be thankful for, the 2002 tie can still be blamed on Ward.

To explain, a key component of the MLB All-Star Game is how every team is represented with at least one player. The idea behind this is likely to motivate all fan bases’ interest, and later, when television is created, their desire to tune in. As such, it’s incredibly important the All-Star team managers see to it that every player on their bench/bullpen gets into the action.

This mandate had to play a role in many of the decisions each manager in 2002 made and is why they had no pitchers left to come into the game after the 11th inning.

Arch, thank you for all you did. We could have used a bit more foresight here.

A.J. Pierzynski

If you’re looking for one man to blame, one singular entity to place all your anger and strife onto, you’re in luck.

In the 8th inning, Detroit Tigers right fielder Robert Fick singles off Robb Nen. Good for Robert Fick. The guy is playing in his first and only All-Star game – he’s putting himself into the box score. Good for you, Robert Fick!

The next batter is Johnny Damon. The Red Sox offseason acquisition is doing nicely in Boston, hitting .308 going into the All-Star break. However, Damon was not a lock to play in this game. Beating out future Hall of Famer Jim Thome in the “Final Spot Vote.” And now he’s at the plate with the tying run on first.

Nen, the Giants closer, takes Damon to a full count. A 3-2 fastball comes towards the plate and Damon gets a piece of it, fouling it out of play, but Joe Buck makes a note that Fick takes off running. Sure, it’s a 3-2 count, so runners are going to move, but with no outs and the tying run on, surely you’d throw down to second, right? If Damon strikes out, you have to come up throwing.

I most certainly would.

A.J. PIERZYNSKI doesn’t.

Damon strikes out swinging on the next pitch and Fick takes off for second.

There is no throw.

Fick takes second standing.

In his entire MLB career, Fick has stolen six bases.

In the first half of 2002, Pierzynski caught 35% of base stealers.  

That’s an easy battle for A.J. to win. In the first inning of this game, we saw an amazing defensive display from Torii Hunter. Why couldn’t Pierzynski have shown off his arm?

The next hitter is Omar Vizquel, who rockets a triple, allowing Fick to score from second. The score is now tied 7-7, in the top of the 8th.

If A.J. throws to second, he more than likely gets Fick. Omar Vizquel doesn’t get the RBI-Triple, and this game looks a hell of a lot different.

Anastacia

This isn’t her fault. I just needed to remind you that Anastacia sang the National Anthem. Do you remember who she is? Neither did I.

Moving on…

Eugene “Bud” Selig

Yes, we’re counting him twice.

All Eugene Selig wanted to do was impress his friends, and help heal the country. Is that too much to ask?

The 2002 All-Star Game took place in Selig’s backyard at Miller Park. Once the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, Selig was now the Commissioner of America’s Pastime. What a riches-to-riches story!

After 9/11, baseball helped heal the country, and in 2002 with the world still reeling, Selig attempted to use the All-Star Game as a reminder of what this country stood for. How else do you remind the world that the USA is A-Okay than a midsummer baseball game?

So when things go awry in this game, just remember that Eugene “Bud” Selig was just trying to do his best for the country and for his hometown Brewers fans.

Do you think he wanted a tie? No way! He just didn’t want to disappoint everyone with a shitty game. He took his eye off the ball for one second, and the whole thing crumbled.

By putting too much stock in this All-Star Game going well, Selig torched his chances of saving it.

Torii Hunter

If Torii Hunter doesn’t rob Barry Bonds of a home run off Derek Lowe, then none of this happens. Think about that.

That’s science.

The Players and Coaches*

The All-Star rosters are selected in a few ways. First off, the fans pick the starting lineups and the “Final Spot” winner. In between, the players vote for their All-Stars, and the coaches also submit a ballot.

My issue is with the latter groups.

After being selected to represent their teams, a few players dropped out. From the National League, three starting pitchers: Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson, and Matt Morris, all declined their invitations. Instead of replacing them with three starters, the NL players and coaches voted in starter Vicente Padilla and two relievers in Robb Nen and Mike Remlinger.

Adding Remlinger and Nen made the NL pitching staff closer heavy, and that’s a problem. In this game where you need pitchers to go 1 inning, and possibly more depending on the outcome, none of these arms were ready to do more than that.

You can argue that Vicente Padilla and Odalis Perez could go more than 1 inning, but how long can you push John Smoltz or Kim or even Eric Gagne? You can’t do more than an inning. It’s a nightmare. If the NL had more starters, they might not have been in the position they ended in.

But then again, the American League had a more even split, and they still ended up in the same spot. So, perhaps this is conditional.

Who’s the worst offender?

The 2002 MLB All-Star Game ended in a tie. That probably bears repeating. The 2002 MLB All-Star Game ended in a tie.

Clearly this was not one person’s fault, but a variety of missteps from several people led us to this outcome.

We have laid out all the suspects, tell us in the comments who you think is the most to blame!

*- This piece was written by Justin Colombo and Terry Cudmore.

Terry is from Massachusetts and is a passionate fan of the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins. He also will admit he only pays attention to Syracuse basketball when they're good. If there's a Twitter trade rumor even remotely associated with one of his teams, he's likely fallen for it. Finally, he believes 100% that if the Celtics had beaten the Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals they would have swept the Thunder in the Finals.

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