07/11/12 12:33 AM ET
After stuffed All-Star ballots, Giants stuff box score
By Hal Bodley / MLB.com
The NL, in winning its third straight over the American League, had an easy time of it thanks to Giants fans "stuffing" the ballot box and sending three of their starters to the game at Kauffman Stadium.
Added to that was manager Tony La Russa's controversial choice in choosing Matt Cain as the NL's starting pitcher.
Once again the future Hall of Fame skipper worked his magic.
It was Melky Cabrera in center field, Buster Posey behind the plate, Pablo Sandoval at third base and Cain, of perfect-game fame, on the mound -- all from the City by the Bay.
It was obvious early these Giants were guests of honor, as they crashed what was supposed to be an AL party.
The only thing missing was Tony Bennett singing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."
The AL was sent reeling when the NL blasted Detroit's Justin Verlander, 2011 AL Cy Young Award/MVP winner, vaulting out to a 5-0 first-inning lead before many in the festive crowd of 40,933 found their seats.
By the time the NL sealed the spiffy two-hour, 59-minute contest, there was a lot of quiet at the beautiful ballpark.
Sandoval, the chubby third baseman, who some said had no business starting ahead of the New York Mets' David Wright, delivered the big blow.
Blame it on the landslide of San Francisco votes.
Sandoval's booming triple to right field scored three runs in the first, and moments later he waltzed home on a single to deep shortstop.
And what about Melky Cabrera, who leads the Major Leagues this season with 119 hits?
He singled to start the NL's parade of first-inning hits, then blasted a two-run homer in the fourth that sealed the deal. When it was over, Cabrera became the proud owner of a classy burgundy Camero convertible as the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet. It was via the 2012 All-Star Game MVP vote sponsored by Firestone.
There must be a hidden agenda for the Giants in Kansas City All-Star Games. The last time the Midsummer Classic was played here was 1973, when the NL won easily in a forgettable game, 7-1.
And this is eerie: The Giants' Bobby Bonds blasted a two-run homer and stretched a single into a triple with daring baserunning in the '73 game. Yes, he was also the MVP.
With one down in the first, Melky singled to left and eventually scored the first run. Then in the fourth, he blasted a two-run homer to left field and, frankly, the AL was finished.
"I didn't come to win an MVP," said Cabrera, who played for the Royals last season. "That's just a surprise. It's a great gift that the Lord gave me. But the same opportunity that Kansas City gave me last year is the same opportunity that San Francisco is giving me every day to showcase my talent. Again, I'm just very thankful for the fans that voted for me to come here. "
And, oh, yes.
NL manager La Russa was criticized for starting Cain over Mets' knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Pitching to his batterymate Posey, Cain, after giving up a leadoff single to the Yankees' Derek Jeter, retired the next six batters he faced and was the winning pitcher.
"For those guys to go out there and score five runs in the first inning was definitely a little more relaxing for me," Cain said. "I'm not used to a five-run lead in the first inning; I don't think many people are. And I really appreciate that big time out of the guys, especially the Panda [Sandoval]."
Sandoval added: "When I was standing on third, it felt great. I've never faced Verlander before. The opportunity to give a little run support on the scoreboard was tremendous."
As far as finishing ahead of Wright for the starting nod, he said: "He's a great player. He's had such a great year. I was excited to be part of this team with him."
Without the tremendous turnout by San Francisco votes, you have to wonder if the outcome would have been the same.
Say what you want about stuffing the ballot box, but if anything, it shows tremendous interest in the All-Star Game.
Earlier Tuesday, Commissioner Bud Selig said he wasn't disturbed by Giants fans stuffing the ballot box.
"There's no perfect system," Selig said. "I remember in 1956, the whole Cincinnati Reds team was voted on. After that they had to make a whole bunch of adjustments. Since then, there has always been a debate about fans voting.
"I think fans should vote. It only shows San Francisco, sold out for every game, has great intensity there, and they went to work on it [and voted their players on]."
Selig said with the players' vote and the managers choosing players, "we have protections now."
Selig added that 10-15 years ago, interest in the game was not nearly as high.
"You had to beg the players to come," he said. "The only people who were upset were the players who weren't invited."
It will be years before the All-Star Game returns to Kansas City. If and when it does, maybe the American League should do something to keep Giants players home.
When it comes to All-Star Games, they own Kansas City.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.