Monday, July 6, 2009

Baby, you're a big star now

So, this All-Star roster, it's amazingly inoffensive, right? Sure, there are a couple eyebrow-raising omissions, as always. Either the fans or Joe Maddon should damn well have made sure Ian Kinsler made the AL squad, and hey, even Charlie Manuel more or less admitted that Ryan Howard is there because he's popular, not because he's more worthy than a certain Kung Fu Panda out West.* But, by and large, it seems like the right people are going to be there in all the right places, with the double-play combination of Jeter and Pedroia once again freaking out a large chunk of the Eastern Seaboard.

The lack of ballot controversy leaves us free to focus all our energy on sighing happily in Tim Wakefield's direction. We have a documented fondness for the knuckleball and its practitioners, and for Wake** in particular, and we were horribly worried at Fenway on Friday night that a Fan Who Shall Remain Nameless had snatched Wake's All-Star chances right out of Youk's glove. We're so thrilled for the man. He's earned his spot--we've seen him start in person a few times this season, and for the vast majority of those innings, he was dealing--and it's also something he clearly values. Honestly, how can anyone sound so humble and endearing while basically saying, "I damn well deserve this recognition"? Wake should bottle that stuff, and send a six-pack to City Hall.

Our favorite part of this, the feel-good sports movie of the summer, is that Terry Francona attempted to psych Wake out by calling him into the office just as the team's other five all-stars (and we congratulate them, too, obviously) left with their packages. First of all, we imagine the look on both their faces was completely adorable. Secondly--

Hang on, packages? Brown paper packages, tied up with strings? Just what gifts does Bud Selig bestow on good little boys who make it to the Midsummer Sorta Kinda Classic? Here are our totally intrepid guesses:

  1. Free samples of the most commonly-advertised products on baseball telecasts. Guys who've been making All Stars for years must simply be swimming in Coors Light and smoothies from Sonic. And we don't even want to think about the Viagra stockpiles.
  2. A clue--one per player--to some sort of epic, Da Vinci Code-style scavenger hunt. Will the players be able to work together and find the hidden shards of Abner Doubleday's magical baseball bat? I guess we'll know if any albino monks show up. Or Tom Hanks.
  3. A flying bird hat. Hey, it's at the Cards' park, so it kind of fits. We just hope the All-Stars are careful about wearing these--they might get hunted by an overexcited Jonathan Papelbon.

Now that we've solved the mystery of the Suspicious Packages, we're settling in to watch the Return Of Nomahhh. We can't understand why there's any debate about how to react to his presence--if you're not applauding the guy for what he did here, you're doing it wrong.

Also, a word of advice that never gets old***: "Don't look directly at him! He's got a HEAHHHT MUHMUHHH!"

*And isn't Kung Fu Panda the best baseball nickname to come along in a long time? It's especially great when you forget about the movie, as history surely will, and just imagine it engraved on a plaque--or, more likely, popping up in searches in a few decades.

**Speaking of nicknames, we're not sure whether or not to be ashamed of this, but we occasionally think of him as "Eggs'n'Bakey."

***And that's the only time we'll ever say that about anything involving Jimmy Fallon.

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