It was business as usual Tuesday night for the American League All-Stars, as they made quick work of their National League counterparts to win a 12th Midsummer Classic in 13 years (let's not speak of the fateful 2002 tie that caused Bud Selig to go absolutely bonkers).
In the shortest All-Star Game since 1988, just 2 hours 31 minutes, the beleagered NL lost by one run, 3-4.
They also saw the end of a 4-game winning streak they've enjoyed when sitting Presidents have thrown out the first pitch. Barack Obama did his part -- and even got respectably within reach of presidental pinch-catcher Albert Pujols -- but after getting off to a 3-2 start through the second, the National League boys cratered at the plate.
22 of the final 24 batters were sent off in short order by the AL's dominant bullpen. After starter Roy Halliday closed out the 2nd down 2-3, a cadre of relievers including winner Jonathan Papelbon and Joe Nathan retired 18 straight before Nathan walked Adrian Gonzalez in the 8th.
Meanwhile, they were getting a little help. The AL still trailed by one run when Derek Jeter scored on a Joe Maur RBI double in the 5th to tie. Then game MVP Carl Crawford contributed "definitely probably my best catch I've ever made" with a fantastic leaping snag over the 8' left field wall to steal a home run from Brad Hawpe in the 7th, and Curtis Granderson was sent home in the top of the 8th on a sacrifice fly for the lead.
Mariano Rivera then punctuated their effort by notching a record-tying 4th All-Star Game save, and it was over.
Part of the spoils of inter-league war: the American League gets World Series advantage once again, its 7th in as many All-Star games with those rights on the line. Such weighty assignations have no business being directed by what ought to be nothing more than a celebratory exhibition game, but that's Selig for you.
One thing the Commish did pull off as intended was infusing the game with as much distinctly American hoopla as viewers could stand: Cards great Stan Musial was wheeled out to thunderous applause to present the president with a ball to toss. A stealth fighter jet failed to be stealthy on flyover and was caught on camera by Fox, who couldn't even manage to get a decent angle on Obama's first pitch. Sheryl Crow and Sara Evans repped for the midwest at the mic, while Tim McCarver and Joe Buck put the United States to sleep with their own special, shallow droning.
The real fun came when all four living presidents joined
in honoring "all-stars among us," everyday Americans tackling hunger and disease and other icky stuff, before putting them on the field with men who get paid eleventy billion times as much money to toss a ball around while saving no one or improving anything.
That's even more traditionally American than a National League loss. Look out, apple pie! Selig is coming for you next.