The Major League Baseball All-Star Games of the 2000s

As the calendar turned to the new century, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game results started to become redundant. Now it was the American League’s turn to thump the National League upside the head in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Although the contests were hotly contested, the best that the National League could do was salvage a tie in the Major League Baseball All-Star Games of the 2000s. Not since Michigan State and Notre Dame tied in an epic college football game in 1966 did “kissing your sister” have such drastic repercussions.

2000- Atlanta’s Turner Field hosted the first Major League Baseball All-Star Game that didn’t have “Nineteen something” in front of it as a year. The July 11th tilt was missing some of the game’s biggest names, as injuries held out such stars as Pedro Martinez, Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, Ken Griffey Jr, and Alex Rodriguez. Alex’s sub, New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter, made the most of his future teammate’s absence. He became the first Yankee to be named the Major League Baseball All-Star Game MVP based on his 3 for 3 performance. Jeter stated after the game, “In due time, when I sit down and get a chance to reflect on it, then you realize how special it is. And I wasn’t aware that no Yankee, no other Yankee, had won this award, and it’s kind of hard to believe.” The award had only come into existence in 1962, which could explain why such legends as Ruth, DiMaggio, or Mantle never took it home. Atlanta’s Chipper Jones homer was the NL’s high point as he became the thirteenth ballplayer to knock one out of the park in front of the home folks at a Major League Baseball All-Star Game, as the AL prevailed 6-3.

2001- 51,000 baseball crazy fans at Seattle’s Safeco Field gave the soon-to-be retiring Cal Ripken Jr one of the greatest displays of respect and affection any player had ever received at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Ripken was starting at third, but Alex Rodriguez motioned him before the first pitch was thrown to take over his usual shortstop position; Cal moved there as Alex went to third base. The fans greeted Ripken with thunderous applause as he came to the plate to lead off the third inning, grateful for the hard-nosed work ethic he brought to the sport that allowed him to play in more consecutive games than any other player. In one of the most magical Major League Baseball All-Star Game moments ever, Cal Ripken Jr knocked the first pitch he saw from the Dodgers’ Chan Ho Park out of the park! The place went wild, and Ripken went on to be named the Major League Baseball All-Star Game MVP. When things settled down, the AL took control on home runs by Derek Jeter and Magglio Ordonez of the White Sox, en route to a 4-1 triumph. Ripken remembered thinking, before he came to bat that first time, “I was a little worried with the shadows. I went up there and said, ‘God, it’s hard to see. Let me just keep things short and put the ball in play.'” Did he ever.

2002- Another gathering of baseball legends, specifically called together to highlight the celebration of the great game of baseball after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, were on hand for the Major League Baseball All-Star game on July 9th at Milwaukee’s new Miller Park. Little did anyone know what was about to transpire. Thrills abounded during the actual playing of this Major League Baseball All-Star Game, but in the end everyone left bitter. AL skipper Joe Torre and NL manager Bob Brenly, in an effort to get everyone in the game, ran through all of their pitchers like a child eating all his candy before someone might ask him for some. The resulting stomachache was that Commissioner Bud Selig had to declare the contest a tie at 7-7 after 11 innings. Home runs by Barry Bonds and the Yankees’ Alfonso Soriano were wasted, as was the Twins’ Torii Hunter’s spectacular grab of a Bonds’ drive that was ticketed for beyond the fences. Further adding to baseball’s embarrassment was that the MVP trophy, now named after Ted Williams, who had passed away a scant week before the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, was not even awarded. An embattled Selig sternly announced afterwards, “This will never happen again”.

2003- The late Billy Martin would have been pleased as could be when baseball adopted a rule that said the league that wins the Major League All-Star Game would receive the home-field advantage in the World Series. No longer would a manager feel obligated to get everyone into the game, as the sport’s new slogan for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game became “This time, it counts.” The turnstiles counted over 47,600 fans at Chicago’s U. S. Cellular Field on July15th. Major League Baseball All-Star Game MVP Garret Anderson of the Angels, already with a single and a home run, doubled off of Dodgers’ relief ace Eric Gagne with one out in the eighth and the score 6-4 in favor of the NL. Toronto’s Vernon Wells doubled in pinch runner Melvin Mora, and the Rangers’ Hank Blaylock completed the comeback by homering to right to give the AL a 7-6 lead. The A’s Keith Foulke pitched a hitless ninth, and the National LLague was left scratching its head. As for the home field advantage garnered by the AL, their Yankees would lose the Series to Florida in six games, shut out by Josh Beckett at home in the clincher.

2004- The July 13th Major league Baseball All-Star Game, staged at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, was over before it started. NL starter Roger Clemens had dominated hitters all season long after signing with the Astros, but on this night, the “Rocket” failed to lift-off the launching pad. first inning home runs by Boston’s Manny Ramirez and Texas’ Alfonso Soriano contributed to Clemens giving up more runs in one inning, six, than he had in his entire Major League Baseball All-Star Game career. Boston’s “Big Papi”, David Ortiz, smashed his own two run clout later on, and the American nine cruised to a 9-4 Major League Baseball All-Star Game cakewalk. Game MVP Soriano went 2 for 3 with three runs batted in. Long time Major League Baseball All-Star Game participant Tom Glavine of the Mets defended Clemens performance. “It goes to show you that on any given night, anything can happen. We’re all human in this game. For Roger, he’s had such a storied career, it hasn’t happened much, if at all. I’m sure he’d tell you that if he was going to have a bad outing, I’m sure he would rather it be a (Major League Baseball) All-Star Game rather than one in September in a pennant race.” The St. Louis Cardinals, who had to start the World Series in Boston thanks to Clemens’ batting practice-like outing, probably didn’t see things Glavine’s way while they were being swept by the Red Sox.

2005- Staked to an early 7-0 lead, thanks in part to homers by Major League Baseball All-Star Game MVP Miguel Tejada of the Orioles and the Rangers’ Mark Teixeira, the AL found themselves holding on for dear life on July 12th in Detroit. Luckily, AL manager Terry Francona had Mariano Rivera in his bullpen. The Yankee closer came in to strike out the only man he faced and end an NL threat, and the AL emerged with a 7-5 Major League Baseball All-Star Game success. They had now won eight of the last nine Major League Baseball All-Star Games, with the lone blemish the 2002 deadlock. Below are the decade by decade standings of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game between the American and National Leagues.

1933-1939 AL 5 wins NL 2 wins
1940-1949 AL 7 wins NL 2 wins
1950-1959 AL 4 wins NL 7 wins
1960-1969 AL 1 win NL 11wins 1 Tie
1970-1979 AL 1 win NL 9 wins
1980-1989 AL 4 wins NL 6 wins
1990-1999 AL 7 wins NL 3 wins
2000-2005 AL 5 wins NL 0 wins 1 Tie

Overall- AL 34 wins NL 40 wins 2 Ties

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