Plenty of troubles at All-Star Game

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 8, 2002

MILWAUKEE -- These surely aren't the sweet sights and sounds Bud Selig wanted for his All-Star game.

Pitchers Curt Schilling and Tom Glavine talking more about strike dates than strike zones.

Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Richie Sexson showing up at Miller Park -- on the scoreboard as crazed, puffed-up cartoon characters, making them look as if they were on steroids. In baseball's own ad, of all things.

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel providing a rude welcome as the Bud Bowl comes to the commissioner's town. A headline in the newspaper's business section Sunday read: ''For all we owe Seligs, it's time they left.''

Hardly the festive mood that accompanies most All-Star games.

''I think that we're in a sport that is tumultuous as baseball has been for nearly a decade,'' former Brewers star Paul Molitor said before managing the U.S. team in Sunday's minor league Futures Game.

''Being the commissioner of baseball is certainly not an enviable job at this particular juncture,'' he said. ''Different storms have made their way over baseball at different times, and he's the man on top, so he's going to receive the brunt of the criticism, whether it's about Yankee dominance, interaction with steroid use, whatever it's going to be.''

Selig was at Sunday's game, signing autographs as the World team won 5-1.

At least Selig, the Brewers' former owner, caught one break: Boston pitcher John Burkett, who said he'd boycott the game if picked for the AL roster, wasn't chosen. Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez was selected, but declined the invitation.

On Sunday, Arizona star Randy Johnson also backed out. The Big Unit said he wanted to spend the break preparing for the second half of the season.

Truth is, the most memorable part of this All-Star game Tuesday night might be the tributes to Ted Williams, Darryl Kile and Jack Buck.

Baseball was still working Sunday to put the finishing touches on its remembrance of Williams as a great hitter and military hero.

The Hall of Famer, who died Friday, was always linked with the All-Star game. The Boston Red Sox great played in 18 of them and drove in a record 12 runs, three with a two-out, bottom-of-the ninth homer in 1941 that sent him skipping around the bases at old Briggs Stadium in Detroit.

In fact, Tuesday night will be the 56th anniversary of the 1946 game at Fenway Park, where Williams went 4-for-4 with two home runs, including a shot off one of Rip Sewell's famed ''eephus'' pitches.

At the 1999 game, Williams made an emotional return to Fenway, with Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn and other stars gathering on the mound to greet the ''Splendid Splinter.''

Not a chance, by the way, that Boston pitcher Derek Lowe will consider tossing a blooper pitch against the NL to evoke memories of Williams.

''No way,'' Lowe said. ''I wouldn't know how to throw it.''

There are plans for a pregame tribute to Kile and Buck. Kile tragically died last month a day before he was scheduled to pitch for St. Louis; earlier that week, Buck died after a Hall of Fame career as an announcer for the Cardinals.

Pitcher Matt Morris was the only St. Louis representative on this year's NL team, but decided Sunday to pass up playing.

Morris has given up big leads in his last two starts, and allowing 11 runs in 10 2-3 innings, and has struggled since Kile's death.

''It's just better for me for the second half not to pitch,'' Morris said. ''Mental, emotional, physical -- all drained into one.''

Morris, though, intends to be on the bench at Miller Park for the game.

Glavine, who has been bothered by a blister on his index finger on his left hand, will be absent. Pitchers Robb Nen of San Francisco, Vicente Padilla of Philadelphia and Mike Remlinger of Atlanta were added to the NL roster.

Glavine, the NL player representative, does not plan to attend Monday's union meeting in Rosemont, Ill. But he'll pay close attention to developments, as will all of baseball.

''I just hold out optimism for some reason,'' the Atlanta ace said Sunday, ''but I have nothing to back that up.''

Schilling feared for baseball's future if there was another work stoppage.

''It wouldn't come back, it wouldn't recover, it wouldn't be what it is now during our careers, which is my concern,'' Schilling said. ''I want to play five or six more years. I don't want to play five or six more years in front of 7,000 people.'' The Associated Press