Brian McCann helps the National League finally end 13 years of misery

National League All-Star catcher Brian McCann (L) of the Atlanta Braves celebrates with relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton of the Los Angeles Dodgers after the National League won Major League Baseball's All-Star Game in Anaheim, California July 13, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Down 1-0 heading into the seventh inning, you got the sense of “here we go again” for the National League in the All-Star Game. The pitching was excellent (the one run that the AL scored was unearned), but nobody was hitting and it appeared that the NL was destined to spend the rest of its existence in All-Star Game hell.

Then Braves’ catcher Brian McCann came to the plate with bases loaded and promptly unloaded them with a double to give the NL a 3-1 lead. The Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, the Giants’ Brian Wilson and the Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton followed with scoreless innings in the seventh, eighth and ninth to give the NL its first ASG victory in 13 years.

The pitching in most All-Star Games is usually good, but the NL’s staff was excellent on Tuesday night. They allowed just six hits and one earned run, while walking three batters and striking out eight. Roy Halladay had the most trouble in his 0.2 innings of work by allowing two hits, although neither run crossed home plate.

The pitching for the AL was also solid outside of the Yankees’ Phil Hughes, who had decent stuff but was smacked around in the fatal seventh inning. In just 0.1 innings of work, he gave up two runs on two hits, including McCann’s double.

Also noteworthy was how base running came into play late in the game for both sides. Down 1-0 in the seventh, Scott Rolen (who had reached on a single) took second and third on only a single by the Cardinals Matt Holliday because he read the ball off the bat perfectly. While he eventually scored on McCann’s double, Rolen’s savvy base running play was potentially huge because it put a runner at third with less then two outs and the NL down by one run.

On the flip side, the AL was threatening in the bottom of the ninth when David Ortiz singled to right to start the inning and John Buck hit what looked to be another single two batters later. But Ortiz didn’t read the play well enough and while the ball dropped in front of outfielder Marlon Byrd, he still had enough time to pick it up and make a good throw to second to nail Ortiz for the force out.

While it was a tough play for Ortiz to read, the gaff killed any momentum that the AL had built in the ninth and Broxton was able to retire Ian Kinsler to give the NL its first victory in over a decade.

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Chris Kaman doesn’t think Pau Gasol should make the All-Star Game

“I don’t think Gasol should be in it at all. He’s only played like 20 games (he played Thursday in his 25th out of 42 Lakers games) this year. I think there should be a number of games you should play. I think you should have to play like 80 percent of the games. It shouldn’t be 50 percent over a guy who plays 90 percent and who has better numbers. Not just me. Zach Randolph, a power forward, he has better numbers (than Gasol). But he’s not on the Lakers.”

— Chris Kaman, via FanHouse

Players don’t usually comment about whether or not another player deserves to play in the All-Star Game, so there might be some blowback on Kaman.

He is averaging 20-9-2 with 1.4 blocks per game and 50% shooting from the field. But it’s hardly Gasol’s fault that he got injured, and he’s played well when healthy (17-11 with 54% shooting). He has played in almost 60% of his team’s games, and if he plays in the 10 games before the All-Star break, then he would have appeared in 67% of his team’s games. Is that enough? Seems to me that 60% or two-thirds would be enough. We are talking about the team with the best record in basketball.

Kaman goes on to say that he realizes it’s the Lakers, but if the Clippers had Kobe Bryant they’d have a better record. But it works both ways. If the Clippers had Kobe, Kaman wouldn’t be averaging 20-9. He can’t have it both ways.

Shaq’s idea to revamp the dunk contest

“As his manager, I will only allow ‘Bron to do the dunk contest if Vince Carter comes back out. If Kobe comes back out and if another big name comes back out. If we could get a big prize and have half of the money go to the people of Haiti and the other half to the winner. The guys that are in it, no disrespect to them, but there won’t really be any competition for LeBron. I want to see Kobe. I want to see Vince and I will allow my client to enter. I’m saying it now. So tweet it. Facebook it. E-mail it and hopefully it gets out. Vince, we’re calling you out. Kobe, we’re calling you out. We’re calling everybody out. If those guys step up in the dunk contest, then I will allow my client to step up.”

Shaquille O’Neal (via the AP and ESPN)

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