What, too political for you?
OK, so you're getting the story as a prelude to the thread, which I realize is as silly as allowing the All-Star Game to determine home-field advantage in the World Series.
Going to run down a few A's highlights from All-Star Games past before we get to the main event where the American League looks to extend its dominance: 11-0-1 since 1996 and the MVP plaque awaits Andrew Bailey.
The first All-Stars in Oakland A's history were third baseman Sal Bando, outfielder Rick Monday, and pitcher John "Blue Moon" Odom. While A's batters were hitless in 3 trips to the plate, Odom was effective if not dominant in two innings of work. He pitched a 1-2-3 third, and retired a pair of Giants in the process; Willie Mays on a ground ball, and Willie McCovey on strikes. Odom opened the fourth by striking out Hank Aaron, yet another future Hall-of-Famer. Reality sunk in for a moment as Blue Moon walked the next two batters, but he escaped without a runner crossing home plate.
All eyes were on Vida Blue, the Louisiana-born southpaw who had turned the baseball world on its ear with 17 wins at the All-Star Break, including 5 shutouts. Blue would go on to win both MVP and Cy Young award honors, and after earning the starting nod for the American League at Tiger Stadium, he looked to reverse a disturbing trend: the Senior Circuit had won the previous eight Midsummer Classics.
Vida pitched three innings, allowing three runs, but ultimately earned the win thanks to a teammate who managed to do what few had done during the 1971 season: grab the headlines from Vida Blue.
With a man on and no one out in the bottom of the third, Reggie Jackson strode to the plate. He launched a Dock Ellis offering that would have left the stadium had it not struck a light tower. The 500-foot blast was the first homerun, run scored, and RBI by an Oakland player in an All-Star Game, and propelled the American League to a 6-4 victory.
It also put Reggie in the conversation of other great sluggers of his day.
As far as All-Star Games go, this one was a dud, a 7-1 win for the bad guys. And to make matters worse, starter Jim "Catfish" Hunter fractured his thumb, and would be lost for a month of the season.
But the one thing I'll never forget is the player introductions.
Kansas City was host to the game, and let's just say there was still some bad blood between the A's and Royals that stemmed from a bench-clearing brawl in May (the divisions rivals would engage in another scuffle in September that lasted some 15 minutes).
So when members of the World Champion A's were introduced- at the home of an American League team, mind you- they were booed relentlessly. The A's, for their part, laughed it off. I think they enjoyed being disliked.
The A's set several club records at the All-Star Game: most players (7), at-bats (12), and hits (5).
Rickey went 3-for-4, stole a base, and scored the AL's only run in a 4-1 loss.
1984: Quick, name the A's pitcher to strike out the only 3 All-Star batters he ever faced. Come on, it's Bill Caudill. Duh.
Who can ever forget a sell-out crowd in Oakland showering Jay Howell with boos, just moments after giving rookie Mark McGwire a thunderous ovation? Did I mention that Howell played for the A's that season? Yikes. Poor Jay did nothing to endear himself to the locals; he allowed the game's only two runs in the 13th inning.
Terry Steinbach wasn't even "supposed" to be there when the Stars gathered at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium. Lucky for him, enough people thought enough of Steinbach to vote him in as starter despite a .217 batting average. So naturally the A's backstop homered and drove in another run on a sacrifice fly in the AL's 2-1 triumph. Dennis Eckersley retired the side in order for the save, his first of three in All-Star Games, but the day belonged to Steinbach, who walked away with the MVP award.
A little Bay Area history: Oakland's Dave Stewart and San Francisco's Rick Reuschel were appointed starting pitchers of the 60th All-Star Game in Anaheim. A few months later, their teams would meet in the World Series.
And one for the younger crowd: Mark Mulder started and earned the win. Of course that 6-spot in the first couldn't have hurt.
Enjoy the game, folks.