The 76th Midsummer Classic returned to Detroit in 2005, but those in attendance (and watching on TV) spread far beyond the boundaries of Comerica Park and the "Motor City." On the eve of this "internationally flavored" All-Star Game, Major League Baseball had announced the debut of the World Baseball Classic in which Major League players from each team would participate in a 16-country tournament in March of 2006.
The proclamation could not have come at a better time as baseball had once again found itself at odds with many of its fans. A Congressional investigation into the illegal use of Steroids, continued disputes between the players and media, as well as the sport itself being dropped as an Olympic event had left many with a bad taste in their mouths - similar to the seasons that had followed labor disputes.
One positive standout during the first half of the 2005 season was the welcome arrival of parody around the league. Similar to the NFL, Major League Baseball finally "shook up the playing field" as the perennial juggernaut known as the New York Yankees struggled to play 500-ball, yet the newly established Washington Nationals dominated their division. The refreshing change in the standings pleased everyone except Yankees fans and of course, Mr. George Steinbrenner.
The Opening Ceremonies echoed those following the events of September 11th as baseball, and ultimately the country, paid tribute to our allies in Great Britain who had suffered a deadly terrorist attack in the week previous. A giant Union Jack waved gloriously on the Jumbotron as a military brass band played their national anthem first.
Fans around the world were anxious to see what the line-ups on both sides would do especially after Monday night's CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby in which Bobby Abreu of the Philadelphia Phillies broke the record for most round-trippers after putting up twenty-four in the first round.
Most analysts agreed that both teams appeared evenly matched on the mound, but that the American League had a distinct advantage at the plate with a roster not seen since the days of Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente and Reggie Jackson. This would later prove true as the American League went on to win its ninth Midsummer Classic in a row and its third home-field advantage ruling for the World Series. (The Nationals had not tasted victory in a Classic since 1996.)
Dominican superstar Miguel Tejada of the Baltimore Orioles got things started right away with a home run - then got the defense rolling with a Gold Glove-caliber play - and later walked away with the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. He was the fifth Latin American-born player among the last eight MVP winners and just one example of the stellar play by the American League.
With Abreu, on first base for the Nationals after a leadoff single in the first inning, Carlos Beltran knocked a scorcher off American League starter (and winning pitcher) Mark Buehrle up the middle for what appeared to be a surefire single. Immediately Tejada sprang a few feet to his left, knocked the ball down and flipped it to his Orioles teammate, Brian Roberts, while on the ground for a rally-stifling, highlight-reel double play. It would not be his last effort to end up on the "Plays of the Week" segment at ESPN.
Showing what it truly means to be a "complete player," Tejada got the scoring going with an epic solo shot off Atlanta Braves ace John Smoltz, crushing an 0-1 fastball over 436 feet into the left-field seats for his first career All-Star Game home run. World Champion Red Sox slugger David Ortiz added to the American's lead with in the third with an RBI single off the wall in right field against Roy Oswalt. Tejada returned to the plate and drove another run in that inning with an RBI fielder's choice, and Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners kept the pressure on with a two-run single in the fourth against Livan Hernandez.
After two quality shutout innings by Buehrle, manager Terry Francona gave the ball to the Anaheim Angels ace Bartolo Colon who threw a strong third inning before yielding to Johan Santana, Matt Clement and Jon Garland. All three kept the Nationals quiet through the sixth, while their line-up continued to wreak havoc on their opponent's pitchers.
Batting righty, switch-hitting, first baseman Mark Teixeira of Texas Rangers slammed an opposite-field, two-run home run off Dontrelle Willis, who was in the middle of an epic season. Surprisingly, Teixeira was leading the league at the All-Star break with 25 round-trippers, but every one of them had been hit left-handed.
It was just one example of the modern day "Murderers' Row" that sported the AL logo and included the league's Most Valuable Player, Vladimir Guerrero, and Alex Rodriguez, who was an annual 50-homer threat.
Even though the Americans had built an early lead, the game still managed to provide a few dramatic moments such as when the host-team Tigers staged a moving video tribute to their longtime, Hall of Fame radio man Ernie Harwell which was met with a standing ovation.
In stark contrast, cheers turned to boo's after the door to the AL bullpen opened for baseball's newest "Public Enemy #1", Kenny Rogers, the Texas Rangers pitcher who caused controversy and garnered a 20-game suspension after a recent physical confrontation with television cameramen.
Justice was served though after Rogers was tattooed by the Braves' Andruw Jones, the Major League leader in homers at the All-Star break with 27. The blast cut the American League's lead to 7-2.
Things continued to favor the Nationals in the eighth when Miguel Cabrera hit an RBI fielder's choice off Joe Nathan to make it 7-3, and his teammates added two more in the ninth on a Luis Gonzalez double against B.J. Ryan and a Carlos Lee fielder's choice.
Just as things were starting to get interesting, enter "The Sandman", closing legend Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, who proceeded to step atop the mound and throw three blazing cutters for the final out and a 7-5 victory. It was his second All-Star save.
In the end, there was no denying the domination of the American League who were more likely to produce runs at six of the nine offensive positions. (The Nationals still led overall in the contest from their own stretch of dominance from the mid-1960s into the early 1980s.)
The following day, one reporter captured the essence of the 2005 Midsummer Classic. He wrote, "There is no overstating how good this (American League) lineup was. It looked like it was drawn up, not by a manager, but by a higher power, an entity with even more sweeping powers than the Commissioner."
"Tonight was a great game for the American League. We brought a lot to the table. We had guys that could hit the ball out of the ballpark at any time, in any direction. It was a fun game for us." - American League third baseman Alex Rodriguez on MLB.com (Doug Miller, 07/13/2005)
2005 All Star Game
|2005 All-Star Game Capsule|
|N.L. Pitcher(s)||A.L. Pitcher(s)|
John Smoltz (L, 2 nd )
Roy Oswalt (3 rd )
Livan Hernandez (4 th )
Roger Clemens (5 th)
Dontrelle Willis (6 th )
Brad Lidge (7 th )
Jake Peavy (8 th )
Chad Cordero (8 th )
Bartolo Colon (3 rd )
Johan Santana (4 th )
Matt Clement (5 th )
Jon Garland (6 th )
Kenny Rogers (7 th )
Joe Nathan (8 th )
Bob Wickman (9 th )
B.J. Ryan (9 th )
Mariano Rivera (S, 9 th )
|N.L. Home Runs||A.L. Home Runs|
Mark Teixeira (6 th )
2005 All-Star Game
National League All-Star Squad
|1.||Bobby Abreu (2)||Philadelphia Phillies||RF|
|Moises Alou (6)||San Francisco Giants||OF|
|2.||Carlos Beltran (2)||New York Mets||LF|
|Jason Bay (1)||Pittsburgh Pirates||OF|
|Miguel Cabrera (2)||Florida Marlins||OF|
|Chris Carpenter (1)||St. Louis Cardinals||SP||Starting Pitcher|
|Luis Castillo (3)||Florida Marlins||2B|
|Roger Clemens (11)||Houston Astros||SP|
|Chad Cordero (1)||Washington Nationals||RP|
|9.||David Eckstein (1)||St. Louis Cardinals||SS|
|5.||Jim Edmonds (4)||St. Louis Cardinals||CF|
|Morgan Ensberg (1)||Houston Astros||3B||Replaced Rolen|
|Brian Fuentes (1)||Colorado Rockies||RP|
|Luis Gonzalez (5)||Arizona Diamondbacks||OF|
|Livan Hernandez (2)||Washington Nationals||SP|
|Jason Isringhausen (2)||St. Louis Cardinals||RP|
|Cesar Izturis (1)||Los Angeles Dodgers||SS||Replaced - Injury|
|Andruw Jones (4)||Atlanta Braves||OF|
|8.||Jeff Kent (5)||Los Angeles Dodgers||2B|
|Carlos Lee (1)||Milwaukee Brewers||OF|
|4.||Derrek Lee (1)||Chicago Cubs||1B|
|Brad Lidge (1)||Houston Astros||RP|
|Paul Lo Duca (3)||Florida Marlins||C|
|Felipe Lopez (1)||Cincinnati Reds||SS|
|Pedro Martinez (7)||New York Mets||SP||Chose Not to Participate|
|Roy Oswalt (1)||Houston Astros||SP||Final Man|
|Jake Peavy (1)||San Diego Padres||SP|
|7.||Mike Piazza (12)||New York Mets||C|
|3.||Albert Pujols (4)||St. Louis Cardinals||DH|
|6.||Aramis Ramirez (1)||Chicago Cubs||3B|
|Scott Rolen (4)||St. Louis Cardinals||3B||Chose Not to Participate|
|Jimmy Rollins (3)||Philadelphia Phillies||SS||Replaced Izturis|
|John Smoltz (7)||Atlanta Braves||SP|
|Billy Wagner (4)||Philadelphia Phillies||RP||Replaced Martinez|
|Dontrelle Willis (2)||Florida Marlins||SP|
|BOLD = Fan's choice to start the game (Manager chooses pitchers).|
2005 All-Star Game
American League All-Star Squad
|Garret Anderson (3)||Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||OF|
|Danys Baez (1)||Tampa Bay Devil Rays||RP|
|Mark Buehrle (2)||Chicago White Sox||SP||Starting Pitcher|
|Matt Clement (1)||Boston Red Sox||SP||Replaced Halladay|
|Bartolo Colon (2)||Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||SP|
|1.||Johnny Damon (2)||Boston Red Sox||CF|
|Justin Duchscherer (1)||Oakland Athletics||RP|
|Jon Garland (1)||Chicago White Sox||SP|
|6.||Vladimir Guerrero (6)||Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||RF|
|Roy Halladay (3)||Toronto Blue Jays||SP||Replaced - Injury|
|Shea Hillenbrand (2)||Toronto Blue Jays||1B|
|Paul Konerko (2)||Chicago White Sox||1B|
|Melvin Mora (2)||Baltimore Orioles||3B|
|Joe Nathan (2)||Minnesota Twins||RP|
|3.||David Ortiz (2)||Boston Red Sox||DH|
|Scott Podsednik (1)||Chicago White Sox||OF||Final Man|
|4.||Manny Ramirez (9)||Boston Red Sox||LF|
|Mariano Rivera (7)||New York Yankees||RP|
|9.||Brian Roberts (1)||Baltimore Orioles||2B|
|2.||Alex Rodriguez (9)||New York Yankees||3B|
|Ivan Rodriguez (12)||Detroit Tigers||C|
|Kenny Rogers (3)||Texas Rangers||SP|
|B.J. Ryan (1)||Baltimore Orioles||RP|
|Johan Santana (1)||Minnesota Twins||SP|
|Gary Sheffield (9)||New York Yankees||OF|
|Alfonso Soriano (4)||Texas Rangers||2B|
|Ichiro Suzuki (5)||Seattle Mariners||OF|
|Mike Sweeney (5)||Kansas City Royals||1B|
|7.||Mark Teixeira (1)||Texas Rangers||1B|
|5.||Miguel Tejada (3)||Baltimore Orioles||SS|
|8.||Jason Varitek (2)||Boston Red Sox||C|
|Bob Wickman (2)||Cleveland Indians||RP|
|Michael Young (2)||Texas Rangers||SS|
BOLD = Fan's choice to start the game (Manager chooses pitchers).
For the third time in his career, Pedro Martinez chose not to play in the Midsummer Classic and became the eighth player in All-Star history to be named to three (3) different All-Star teams and then replaced. The other seven players were: George Brett , Jose Canseco , Rod Carew , Ken Griffey, Jr. , Mark McGwire , Eddie Miller & Carl Yastrzemski .
What do the 1943 , 1976 , 1992 & 2005 All-Star Games have in common? Those are the only Midsummer Classics in history where not one of the top ten active home run leaders started the game. Too easy? What do the 1941 , 1978 , 1997 & 2005 All-Star Games have in common? Each had a player with at least a twenty-five game hit streak coming into the contest and each of those players got a hit during the contest. Those players respectively were: Joe DiMaggio , Pete Rose , Sandy Alomar, Jr. and Johnny Damon .
Future trivia might include: Game Sponsor = Chevy. The distance seen on the GM Building in the skyline = 4,612 Feet. Home run oddity = Mark Teixeira who went deep in the sixth inning batting right-handed / all twenty-five of his home runs during the season were hit left-handed.