07/15/09 1:00 AM ET
Bailey 'living a dream' in St. Louis
Reliever's All-Star experience not diminished by inactivity
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
Bailey, of course, is one of baseball's elite. American League manager Joe Maddon picked Bailey to represent the A's in the 80th All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on Tuesday.
Fine. Sweet. And Bailey certainly appreciates the love.
But that doesn't mean he didn't feel a little bit like a fan who lucked into some sort of secret inside-access pass to all things Midsummer Classic, including Monday's Gatorade Workout Day, the State Farm Home Run Derby and Tuesday afternoon's All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevy.
"At some point -- I don't know if it'll be tomorrow, or on the plane or what -- but I'll realize I've been living a dream the past few days," Bailey said after the AL's 4-3 victory over the National League. "Just being in the clubhouse with all these big names, it's been unbelievable."
Named to the AL team on the strength of his 1.92 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings over 39 appearances before the All-Star break, Bailey wasn't one of the eight pitchers Maddon used in Tuesday's game.
Some guy named Mariano Rivera got to close it out instead of Bailey.
No offense taken, Bailey said. The coaches told him he'd likely be used only to either bail out someone struggling to get the third out of an inning, or to pitch in extra innings.
"I totally understand," Bailey said. "I'm the low man on the totem pole."
It was truly a happy-to-be-here experience for Bailey, an unheralded 25-year-old rookie from New Jersey.
A struggling starter in Double-A ball a little more than a year ago, Bailey went from stealing a few peeks at Josh Hamilton's surreal Derby show on a clubhouse TV in Texas last July to sitting on the field Monday night, surrounded by the game's best players, watching Prince Fielder pierce the muggy Midwestern night on the way to winning the 2009 State Farm Home Run Derby.
"Watching the Derby with all the guys from that perspective is ... that's what I've been wondering about for the past 25 years," Bailey said.
Accompanied to St. Louis by his girlfriend and his parents, Bailey took the advice of A's teammate Nomar Garciaparra, who told him to take time to soak in every part of the All-Star experience.
"Yeah, I think I did pretty good on that," Bailey said. "I went to everything, took video, took pictures -- I got it all documented."
During the Red Carpet show, Bailey sat on a bench in the back of a pickup truck for the 1 1/2-mile ride from the players' hotel to Busch Stadium, blown away by the size of the crowd lining the streets of downtown St. Louis.
Once inside, Bailey shared the clubhouse with not only the AL's top talent, but with the leader of the free world. President Barack Obama made a quick visit to each team before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
"That was amazing," Bailey said. "He walked around the clubhouse, and I said, 'Hi, Mr. President, I'm Andrew Bailey.' And he looked at me and said, 'Bailey -- you're the young guy. You're the youngest guy in here. The rookie.'
"I thought that was pretty cool."
After the game, Bailey packed up the scads of All-Star swag with which he was showered during his 2 1/2 days in town and prepared for a return to relative normalcy; the A's will open the second half of the season on Thursday at home against the AL West-rival Angels.
And as he packed, Bailey knew exactly what would be motivating him during his offseason workouts.
"Now I have to get back," Bailey said. "I'm going to be thinking about that the whole offseason. I've got to work harder -- got to get back here."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.