As the baseball season has taken its midseason pause, I thought back to when the All-Star festivities visited Turner Field here in Atlanta in 2000. Because I did not have tickets to the actual All-Star game or to any of the Monday Night Home Run Derby, I bought much cheaper tickets for the All-Star Sunday festivities. I roasted to a lobster red in the hot Atlanta sun that day watching both the "All-Star Celebrity Hitting Challenge" and the All-Star Futures Game.
The rosters for the Celebrity Hitting Challenge were, well, interesting:
To be quite honest, though, I remember nearly nothing from this hitting challenge. Couldn't tell you who won, couldn't tell you what the format was, and can't tell you now whether I even watched it.
I went for the Futures Game. It was only the second time that they played the Futures game, and it ended with a 3-2 victory for the USA.
Here's the US Roster from that game:
In retrospect, that is a loaded team in many respects. A pitching staff with Ben Sheets, C.C. Sabathia, and Barry Zito? Not bad at all. An outfield of Josh Hamilton, Vernon Wells, and Brad Wilkerson or Jack Cust or Corey Patterson? Pretty good too. The infield was a bit rough, but even there Marcus Giles didn't have a bad (albeit short) career.
The World Roster is less impressive now, certainly:
That Ramon Castro is the guy who made it to 2011 with the white Sox, I think. Carlos Pena had a couple of decent years, and Felipe Lopez made it to the All-Star game with the Reds in 2005. The outfield...well, in retrospect, that was a car-crash of guys whose prospect status would fade to black within the next few years.
The pitching staff...ouch. Danys Baez made the all-star game in 2005 as a closer with the Rays, which puts him as likely being the guy with the best season of any of his other fellow World pitchers. Tomo Ohka might be the second best pitcher on that staff. Carlos Silva had a 9-year career in which he finished 70-70 with a 4.68 ERA for four teams. Otherwise, there are some interesting stories there -- Anderson, for example, appears to have ended his career in 2011 pitching for Neptunus in the Dutch Major League. Guzman was already 27 when he appeared in Atlanta for this game.
Who was the biggest superstar in this game? I would probably have to say that that title would go either to Josh Hamilton, Josh Beckett, or C.C. Sabathia. And boy, do they look young:
The Futures Game was a lot of fun to see in 2000. I'm glad that I ponied up the money to get those tickets.
As a postscript, on the morning of the All-Star Game, the woman in my office who was responsible for billing for the firm I was with at the time e-mailed me and asked if I wanted to go to the All-Star Game -- free tickets. I grabbed another guy, and we went and enjoyed the game. It was a great experience -- one I'd highly recommend for anyone who can pull it off.