NEW YORK Joe Morgan looks at what's happened to the All-Star game, and he doesn't like what he sees.
The Hall of Fame second baseman remembers when the top stars played all nine innings, when the All-Stars drew huge ratings.
"Part of the reason the game doesn't bring that energy is it's a different game now. Now it's considered an exhibition, where as before it was considered life and death," he said Thursday during an ESPN conference call to preview its All-Star coverage.
The last time the All-Star game was at Yankee Stadium, in 1977, Morgan led off the game with a home run off Jim Palmer. A 10-time All-Star with the Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros, Morgan's National League teams were a perfect 10-0 against the American Leaguers.
"If you had Willie Mays and those guys with the attitude that they had playing now, you'd have that same awareness," Morgan said. "I don't say the players don't play hard. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying here. I'm saying that before, Willie Mays might play the whole game. Hank Aaron might play the whole game. Now it's, you know, two innings, three innings and everything is changed. By the sixth inning or something, you do not have the same type of stars in the game that you had before."
Mays went the distance in 11 All-Star games and Aaron nine, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. When Carlos Beltran went all nine innings at Pittsburgh two years ago, it marked the first time a player had started and finished an All-Star game since Ken Griffey Jr., Brady Anderson and Ray Lankford in 1997 at Cleveland.
Now, there's more of an emphasis of getting in as many players as possible. In 1986, Jose Canseco complained when AL manager Dick Howser didn't get him into the All-Star game at Houston's Astrodome.
"You play under the parameters that you're expected to play," said Boston's Terry Francona, this year's AL manager. "So we try to do everything. In '05, we were very fortunate. It worked out very well. We got almost everybody in the game and we won the game."
LONGORIA, HART ELECTED ALL-STARS: Tampa Bay rookie third baseman Evan Longoria and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Corey Hart were elected All-Stars by fans in Internet balloting that ended Thursday. Longoria received 9 million votes and was followed by Jermaine Dye of the Chicago White Sox, Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees, Brian Roberts of Baltimore and Jose Guillen of Kansas City. Hart got 8 million votes and was followed by the New York Mets' David Wright, Philadelphia's Pat Burrell, San Francisco's Aaron Rowand and Houston's Carlos Lee.
Major League Baseball said a record 47.8 million votes were cast, more than double last year's 23.1 million.
HOLLIDAY REPLACES SORIANO: Colorado's Matt Holliday will replace injured Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano in the National League starting lineup for Tuesday's All-Star game at Yankee Stadium. "I thought I had a chance with Soriano not being able to play," Holliday said after the Rockies' 11-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday. Soriano has been on the disabled list since June 12 because of a broken left hand from being hit with a pitch from Atlanta's Jeff Bennett. Soriano was one of three outfielders elected to the starting lineup in fan voting, joined by Cubs teammate Kosuke Fukudome and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun.
BOONE GOES ON DL: Infielder Aaron Boone was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday, making him the 15th Washington Nationals player to be shelved this season. Boone strained his left calf while pinch running in Saturday's game at Cincinnati. He is batting .258 with five home runs and 17 RBIs. "We have been short a couple of days," manager Manny Acta said. "And we're not anticipating him getting any better before the All-Star break, so we made the decision instead of being short."
WELLS ON 15-DAY DL: Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Vernon Wells is expected to miss four to six weeks with a strained left hamstring after being placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday. A move to replace Wells is expected before the Blue Jays begin a three-game series against the New York Yankees on Friday, their last before the All-Star break.
BULLINGTON CLAIMED BY INDIANS: Right-hander Bryan Bullington, the No. 1 pick in the 2002 amateur draft, was claimed on waivers Thursday by the Cleveland Indians from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh had planned to reassign the 27-year-old Bullington to Triple-A Indianapolis if he cleared through waivers. He was 4-6 with a 5.52 ERA in 15 starts for Indianapolis this season.