PrintPrint © 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

All-Star managers stand by decision
07/10/2002 2:27 AM ET
MILWAUKEE -- Managers Joe Torre and Bob Brenly knew trouble was lurking right around the corner. As the game reached the the 11th inning with the score still tied, they saw their All-Star cupboards were bare.

With no pitchers or position players left to turn to, both skippers turned instead to Commissioner Bud Selig, giving him a roster status update at the start of the inning. Selig beckoned for the two managers to come discuss the situation with him on two occasions in the middle of the inning. And Selig, obviously knowing how the crowd would react and not wanting the game to end in eternal limbo, made a decision he truly did not want to make.

"Never in our wildest dreams did we conceive the game would end in a tie," Selig said. "With the health of the players, frankly, we had no choice. As much as I hated to do it, and with all the reluctance in the world, I had no choice but to call the game."

The only other tie in an All-Star game came on July 31, 1961, at Fenway Park. The second Midsummer Classic that summer ended in a 1-1 tie after nine innings, because of rain. The teams waited 30 minutes before the game was called. This time, however, it wasn't natural events that ended the contest. And the Milwaukee faithful were none-too-pleased with the decision, which was announced as the bottom of the 11th inning got underway. Boos cascaded down, along with chants of "Let Them Play" as the National League went down in their final at-bat.

"I want to take this opportunity to apologize to the fans here," Selig said. "Their unhappiness is understood by all of us. It was a no-win situation, and I was sad. I understood the crowd reaction."

Selig obviously did not want to cancel the game while it was still tied, especially in his own backyard. The gravity of having to make such a tough call was easy to read on his face both during the 11th inning, and at the postgame press conference. And while all sorts of ideas on how to continue might have gone through his head -- from re-entry of pitchers to something as zany as bringing in a coach to pitch, Selig resisted the temptation to make the game a joke just for the sake of having an outcome.

"I sat the last half-inning desperately trying to come up with something," Selig said. "My mind was racing. But I can't turn the All-Star Game into something with who knows who was out there. It would have been a farce if we went to some kind of bizarre alternative.

"This is not the way I wanted this to end. It's the first time it's ever happened. It's very regrettable and very sad. At the end, I had no alternative. There's absolutely no one to blame."

But there may be a means to avoid a repeat of Tuesday night's ending. Selig did say that perhaps baseball will have to look at how the managers use their roster in the future, but an expansion of rosters is a more likely solution. An enlargement to 35 on each side has been a concept many have clamored for, mostly to include more deserving players in the game. Selig said adding both pitchers and position players would be considered, and it sounded at least late on Tuesday night, like it was a change Selig would like to implement as soon as possible.

"I think we'd probably do both," Selig said. "If we're going to have everybody play, we have to have more guys on the roster."

The managers, while not pleased with not having a winner, were in complete agreement with Selig's decision. The emphasis, they think, should be on getting everyone into the game if possible, and this was simply an extremely unusual circumstance.

"I feel bad for Bud, especially here," Torre said. "I apologize, however, in making my plan for the All-Star Game, getting everybody in was the most important thing. I know players that come want to play. It's our job to do that."

Torre and Brenly pulled that off almost perfectly, getting all 29 players into the game and leaving just one starting pitcher in the bullpen in the event of extra innings. But in today's Midsummer Classics, starters rarely, if ever, go more than two innings. Once Freddy Garcia and Vicente Padilla had gone those two frames, the managers were stuck. A result would have been nice, but not at the expense of a starter's health, especially one who pitches for a rival.

"The last thing I want to do is get a pitcher hurt," Torre said. "Sending Freddy Garcia back to Lou Piniella and having him say he can't pitch, that's the mortal sin."

"It's highly important not to place blame on anyone," Brenly said. "It happened. Unfortunately, it was tied up. I saved a starting pitcher, and we extended him as far as we were going to.

"It was a great game. There was a lot of excitement. You got everything you wanted...just not a win."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.