x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

San Francisco Giants players proved their worth as All-Stars

They were derided for voting their players into the All-Star game, but the judgement of the San Francisco fans proved right, writes Carroll Rogers.

Paolo Sandoval, left, did the San Francisco Giants proud in the MLB All-Star game.
Paolo Sandoval, left, did the San Francisco Giants proud in the MLB All-Star game.

The fans from San Francisco must have been onto something. For all the complaints levied at them about "stuffing the ballot box" and voting three Giants' players into the starting line-up for last week's MLB All-Star game, those very players made the biggest difference for the National League.

Pablo Sandoval, the Giants third baseman was not supposed to be worthy of starting over New York Mets' third baseman David Wright.

Sandy Alderson, the Mets general manager, tweeted that a city of eight million (New York) should not get out-voted by a city of 800,000 (San Francisco). He poked fun that Sandoval was a fan favourite for his nickname, "Kung Fu Panda" after the computer-animated movie character.

But "Kung Fu Panda" drove in three runs in the first inning of the National League's 8-0 win, with the first ever bases-clearing triple in an All-Star game.

"I had a goal, after all the comments, to try to do my absolute best in the All-Star Game, and to show that the San Francisco Giants fans had done a good job," Sandoval told USA Today in Spanish. "What better way to do that than to have a game like this?"

Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera was criticised for starting over the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun, after he had hit only eight first-half home runs to Braun's 24. But it was Cabrera's two-run home run in the fourth inning that gave the National League a five-run cushion, helping him earn the Most Valuable Player award.

Votes from San Francisco fans made Buster Posey the starting catcher over Yadier Molina of the St Louis Cardinals and Carlos Ruiz of the Philadelphia Phillies, both of whom had better statistics. But it was also Posey's start which influenced manager Tony La Russa to start Giants right-hander Matt Cain on the mound.

While the rest of the America wanted the intrigue of seeing Mets knuckleballer RA Dickey start the game, after an 12-1 with a 2.40 ERA in the first half, La Russa chose Cain in part because he did not want the starter Posey catching Dickey's knuckleball, a difficult pitch to snare.

La Russa wanted Ruiz to catch Dickey, and he did not match them up until the sixth inning.

Cain went out and pitched two scoreless innings to Posey, allowing only a lead-off single to Derek Jeter, and walked away with a win.

For all the complaints, Commissioner Bud Selig gave his endorsement of the selection process, before the game had even taken place.

"I think fans should vote," he said. "It only shows San Francisco, sold out for every game, has great intensity there."

No team had any more impact than the Giants, and no fanbase more reason to be proud.

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