Wednesday, August 18, 2010

2010 NYPL All-Star Game

The New York Public Library held its, wait, that's not right; it was the New York Penn League that played its all-star game last night. The confusion does give me an excuse, however, to publish this very cool picture of the main reading room in the library's 42nd Street branch, made available by David Iliff on wikimedia by Creative Commons Attribution and ShareAlike license.

From the library, a half-hour ride on the number 4 train and another half-hour on the Staten Island Ferry brings you to the Richmond County Savings Bank Ballpark at St. George, to use its full(y paid for) name. The Staten Island Yankees played host, in the truest sense of the word, to the sixth annual league all-star game. One day earlier, the 55 players were taken to Yankee Stadium for lunch and a tour. "It's been non-stop things to do since we got here," Vermont Lake Monsters pitcher Neil Holland told the Staten Island Advance.

It was the fans who were feted the next day. The stadium opened four hours before game time. Fans got the chance to watch the players work out, take pictures of the Yankees' 2009 World Series trophy and bid at a charity auction on baseball memorabilia. The all-stars graciously autographed everything put in front of them. (Above, Batavia Muckdogs starting pitcher Justin Edwards.) As a friend and I arrived at the ballpark, a man was heading back towards the ferry terminal, four brand new bats covered in signatures and no interest in the game. Every fan got a souvenir cap; this lady made hers a keepsake.

My buddy and I timed our arrival for the home run derby. Marcell Ozuna (above), the Jamestown Jammers right fielder, had a league-leading 15 home runs going into the all-star break, but it was David Freitas of the Lake Monsters who launched the most balls over the wall. Then, Staten Island Yankees manager Josh Paul and Brooklyn Cyclones skipper Wally Backman, who some Mets fans hope will be called up to the big league club in September, exchanged the line up cards that soon became obsolete. Like some youth baseball leagues, every able body plays in an all-star game. Anyone who was keeping score in the bottom of the fifth--when a pinch hitter stayed in the game and there was a pitching change and six defensive substitutions--probably decided it was time for a beer run.

What can you say about a game where no pitcher lasted longer than an inning and most players got two at bats or less? For staff reporter Jed Weisberger, the story was Jose Garcia. The Lowell Spinners shortstop made up for a fourth inning throwing error, which let the National League affiliates score two, by hitting a single in the eighth that brought home the winning run. It was a home-town story for Jim Waggoner, on the Internet edition of the Advance. Staten Island had six players on the roster and Preston Claiborne got the win; Chase Whitley earned the save. Joe Anuta, writing for The Brooklyn Paper, also took the local angle despite the absence of good news. The Cyclones players went hitless and Ryan Fraser blew the save.

2005 NYPL All-Star Game
One of the advertising pitches for minor league baseball is, 'see the players of tomorrow, today.' I have previously calculated that, on average, only two or three players on any NYPL team will make it to "the bigs." But what about the all-stars? Another friend and I attended the inaugural NYPL all-star game, held in Coney Island. I was curious how those 50 players (and two who were injured) have fared in the five years since. It turns out about 20 percent of the 2005 roster is playing in the majors. Generally, pitchers got there faster. Kyle Kendrick (Phillies) and Jensen Lewis (Indians) got their first taste just two years later and Chris Volstad (Marlins) and Bobby Parnell (Mets) had playing time in 2008. Wade Davis is in his first season with the Rays this year.

All the position players have been infielders, no doubt a non-stat. First baseman Steve Pearce made the majors in 2007 but has only played in 42 games in four seasons. Brent Lillibridge (Braves, now White Sox) and Jed Lowrie (Boston), both shortstops, and first baseman Gaby Sanchez (Marlins) all got their first call-ups in 2008. Detroit shortstop Will Rhymes is in his first year in the majors. A bit more than half of the 2005 NYPL all-stars appear to be out of organized baseball altogether, leaving a quarter still in the minors. Half are in Triple-A; three are playing at a lower level than last year.

And how did those guys do on August 23, 2005? Sanchez was the most valuable player, hitting a two-run single in the fifth. Pearce was one of the runs to score. Davis gave up four runs in that inning and thereby took the loss. Volstad pitched a perfect seventh. Three unearned runs scored while Kendrick was on the mound in the eighth. We no doubt saw some future major leaguers last night, but it is impossible to guess who from how they played in the game.

NYPL All-Time Team
The league announced its all-time team prior to the 2010 all-star game. I guess this just couldn't wait, since the announcement came in celebration of the league's 72nd anniversary, not your usual milestone. The players were elected by online fan balloting, the bogus method used to pick the major league all-stars, so I won't list the players selected. (You can read it yourself, if you really want.) Pete Rose, of the 1960 Geneva Redlegs, will at least have this accolade to fall back on.

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