Tonight: The 2011 AAA All-Star Game from Salt Lake City
If you had plans this evening, cancel them. If you’re going to be traveling at any point between 6pm-9pm PDT, find a bar with MLB Network and settle in. Tonight’s the AAA All-Star game, pitting the Pacific Coast League’s brightest stars who haven’t been promoted yet against the International League’s for bragging rights and so much more: you see, this one counts too. Like the MLB All-Star game, the winner receives home field advantage for the AAA National Championship. But unlike MLB who drags out their World Series over four-to-seven games, AAA boils it all down to a single championship game. Winning the AAA All-star game allows the team from the winning league to wear their home uniforms in the neutral stadium the game is played in.
You can’t measure that with statistics, but you can see it in the leave-it-all-on-the-field mentality of the player’s in tonight’s match-up. Watch Bryan LaHair (a vet of the 2009 contest) run the bases and tell me this is an exhibition game. Watch Russ Canzler and tell me he isn’t the best IL 3B you’ve never heard of.
Josh Lueke’s is the Mariners/Rainiers sole representative, but he knows all too well how much home field advantage means in a neutral site game. Jason Kipnis does too; he played on the winning side last year, and while no one can prove that the moderately larger ‘home’ clubhouse proved decisive in Columbus’ win, no one can prove it wasn’t.
That last night’s appetizer was the lowest-rated AS Game in history doesn’t surprise me; it’s pretty tough to compete with line-ups like these. Besides, interleague play has sapped one of the only reasons to tune in to the MLB AS Game: to see matchups between players who never got to face each other. But AAA doesn’t have interleague play, so if you ever dreamed of seeing Yonder Alonso or Dayan Viciedo take on Willie Eyre or Dana freaking Eveland, then you had to play it out in your mind. Tonight, our most mundane dreams are made real.
Game time is 6pm, and it’s on MLB Network, and AM 850 on your radio dial (if you’re in the south puget sound, that is). Follow along on the web here, and you’ll be able to get video if you’re an MiLB.tv subscriber or pick up the audio on your computer. Even better, Mike Curto promises to tweet his impressions of the clash throughout the night, so follow him @CurtoWorld. There’s no excuse to miss this one, unless your excuse is tuning in to Taijuan Walker’s start for Clinton tonight at 5pm.
Update: The AAA HR Derby is better, both because it doesn’t include Chris Berman and because it DOES include things like local high schoolers. Very reminiscent of the time a few years ago when retired slugger and local realtor Rob Stratton won it in Albuquerque. Seriously, if you watched last year’s contest between millionaires and you don’t watch/listen to this, you are a midsummer classist. Brad Mills of Las Vegas is completing his warm-up tosses now.
Update 2: Bryan LaHair is mic’ed up for tonight’s game. Just when you think it can’t get any better….