A Midsummer Classic: The Real MLB All-Star Game of 2004

Andrew PargoffCorrespondent IOctober 27, 2008

July 12 truly was a night for baseball. At 9 PM EDT, millions of American television viewers turned to ESPN for the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrities Softball game. Actually, the only ones still watching were the people who were too stupid to figure out the Century-21 Home Run Derby was over.

The Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrities Softball game is the greatest rivalry in all of sports. Yankees vs. Red Sox? Red Wings vs. Avalanche? Lakers vs. Celtics? Packers vs. Cowboys? Nothing comes close to the intensity of celebrity softball.

Teams were managed by ESPN employees Harold Reynolds and Kenny Mayne. Kenny led the N.L. and Harold was at the reigns of the proverbial A.L. sled. All-Star lineups were inevitable, as rosters were packed with stars of yesterday and today.

Nick Lachey (better known as Jessica Simpson's ex-husband), Jimmy Kimmel, Cesar Cedeno, Leeann Tweeden, Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, and Will Clark. Wait a minute, Will Clark? Will Clark, as in the career .265 hitter that played for the Giants and Rangers? That Will Clark? Unfortunately it was him.

Oh yeah, Miss America was there too. No one caught her name because everyone was too busy checking her out as she ran down the first-base line. Did I mention that A-Rod was playing, too? No, no, not Alex Rodriguez, Adam Rodriguez, of CSI: Miami fame. I myself didn’t even know that CSI: Miami was still on the air, but apparently it is.

The game was marred by the fact that some of the players were too old for the mostly teenage audience. Most kids see Rollie Fingers and think, “Look at the fag with the handlebar mustache,” and not, “Look at the 300-game winner.” This game was a travesty.

An example being that the play of the game goes to Rollie Fingers for the diving grab in center field to end the National League threat in the bottom half of the first inning. If you replay the catch in slow motion, you wonder how he did not break his leg. Yes, Rollie Fingers was the center fielder. Now if that doesn’t lead you to stop reading this article, I don’t know what will.

Making his first start in over 10 years, Goose Gossage was shelled in the game’s first three innings, giving up 12 runs to the National League squad. Gossage’s pitching makes Rod Beck look like a hot commodity. Things were not looking good for Harold and the A.L., as his team faced a seven-run deficit going into the top of the fourth.

I do not know what Manager Harold Reynolds was thinking, as he left Gossage in to pitch to the N,L, in the fourth inning. And after former Houston Astros manager Larry Dierker hit a moon shot, scratch that, hit a pop out in any normal baseball field, but since they move the fences in for this, it was called a home run. Yes, a ball hit out of the infield is just about all you need to be trotting around the bases in Houston’s Minute Maid Park.

And if you watch the tape of the bottom of the fourth, and you listen real close, you can hear Harold Reynolds announcing his resignation as Baseball Tonight co-host and Nationwide ESPN affiliate. He was quoted saying, “Hey, maybe if I quit my job, I won’t have to manage this damn team anymore.”

Unfortunately for him, his contract states he must manage the American League team in the Legends and Celebrities game for seven years. That is word for word in Section 12, Paragraph Five, Line Seven of the contract.

As a sad attempt to pull in more viewers, Bill Rancic fired the umpire and brought in 18-time WNBA All Star Sheryl Swoopes to umpire. I know all of you are thinking, “How does this sideshow clown not know his 15 minutes have been up for roughly a month?”

I was asking myself the same thing. But, clinging to the only thing that made him famous, he let the umpire go with Trump’s catch phrase, an emphatic “You’re fired!” This was too much to bare, and then I thought to myself, “It’s only the fourth inning!?!?” This game was so sad. I missed Adam Carolla, Jim McMahon and Chris Chelios, the stars of last year’s game.

I chuckled as Gary Thorne read, “It is prohibited to copyright this broadcast without the express, written consent of Major League Baseball.” Who, in all honesty, who tape this for posterity’s sake? No one. That is about the moment where I was near tears.

And then I recalled the Academy Award Nominated A League of Their Own. “What are you crying about? There’s no crying in baseball!” The tears came to a halt as I have tremendous respect for Tom Hanks and all of his works of cinema.

All you could do was roll your eyes whenever you heard Rick Sutcliffe talk. The man may have been a good pitcher, but come on, watching this game is bad enough. Listening to him in addition is like insult to injury.

No one seemed to notice as Harold Reynold put all 26 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in place of his team. His team did even worse with the Pirates playing. A minor highlight for the Pirates, Jason Kendall reached base due to a throwing error from Miss America.

The game was delayed 14 minutes as Kendall removed first base and asked for the ball saying, “This is my first hit since the ’98 season. This stuff [First base and the ball] is going into a case in my bedroom. I, I just can’t believe it. I’m takin’ the whole team out for dinner tonight.” Well, with his salary I hope they’re using the McDonald’s $1 Menu to its fullest extent.

The game got a little heated as Gossage threw at the head of Cesar Cedeno in the fifth inning. Goose’s reasoning was as follows, “Well, he was already 6-for-6 against me, so I thought I’d spook him by givin’ him a little chin music.” The only thing it accomplished was breaking Cesar’s tailbone as he fell to the ground to dodge the bright yellow ball.

As Cesar was being carried out on a stretcher, he held his hand up, and gave the thumbs down sign to the whole stadium. Which most likely means he’s in Intensive Care right now. Oh well, I’d rather have seen Willie Mays anyways.

Another N.L. victory means one thing. Who will be filling Harold Reynolds place? Maybe Sparky Anderson? Wayne Fontes is desperate for work, he’s a candidate. Hell, Don King has even thrown his hat into the ring, no pun intended. So, as the game came to a close, I can sadly say I was relieved to turn on channel 69 and see Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Challenge.